Skip to Main Content

Getting Back into Study: Refresher Guide for Students (HWLS): First Steps - Library Search

What is Library Search?

Library Search is a powerful search engine that you can use to find and access high quality academic resources. With Library Search you can find results from our book collection, our full text journals and many other sources, and return them in one integrated list that can be refined to show just the kind of resource you need.

Library Search box image

It's also a great starting point if you are returning to education as it is really easy to use. You can use it to find what resources we have for your subject area, or a particular topic you may be interested in. Running a 'scoping search' in Library Search is a really good way to find out how much information and literature might be out there on your chosen topic!

The information in this section guides you through some of the key features of using Library Search and will also help prepare you for moving on into searching the more specialist resources we provide for your studies.

Library Online and Library Search

Library Search can found on the homepage of Library Online. The best way to navigate to Library Online is to log into MyHallam and then go to the Library link in the top right-hand corner.

Once you have found the link, you will land on Library Online homepage, which has lots of useful information in it, too. You can access your Subject Guide and all of our help and support from the Library Online homepage, so please take some time to familiarise yourself with it.

Performing basic searches

You can search very easily in Library Search. Just type one or more words you are looking for and click the 'Search' button. Library Search assumes that you are searching for all the words you type unless you put OR or NOT in between them.  (Note: OR or NOT must be UPPERCASE).

Once you are familiar with the basic search, you can do more using the search box or use the Advanced Search feature. Both of these options offer numerous ways of making your searches more precise and enable you to get results that are more relevant to your interests.

Doing more with the search box in the new Library Search

You can do more than just a simple search with the search box. Try the following search options to get the best results for your search.

Searching for a phrase

To search for a phrase, type quotation marks around the phrase. You can combine both words and phrases in your search. For example, to search for global warming as a phrase, type "global warming" into the search box.

If you don't enclose the phrase with quotation marks, the system will find items that contain the individual words in the phrase, regardless of whether these words are located next to each other in the order specified.

Searching for any specified words or phrases

You can search for items that contain at least one of the words or phrases you type in the Search box. To do so, type OR between the words or phrases. For example, to search for items with the word Irish or the word Celtic, type Irish OR Celtic into the search box.

If you search for words or phrases without specifying OR or NOT, Library Search assumes that you are searching for all the specified words or phrases. To use Boolean operators (ANDORNOT) within search phrases, you must enter them in uppercase letters. Otherwise, Library Search removes them and performs a simple search that includes all search phrases.

Excluding words or phrases

You can exclude items that contain specific words or phrases. To do this, type NOT and then type the word or phrase to exclude. For example, to search for items with the word Celtic and exclude any of these items with the word Irish, type Celtic NOT Irish into the search box.

If you search for words or phrases without specifying OR or NOT, Library Search assumes that you are searching for all the specified words or phrases.

Searching using Wildcard characters

You can include the following wildcard characters in your searches:

  • Enter a question mark to perform a single character wildcard search. For example, type wom?n to search for resources about woman and women.
  • Enter an asterisk to perform a multiple character wildcard search. For example, type cultur* to search for resources including the words culturecultural, and culturally.

The system ignores wildcard characters placed at the beginning of search terms. For example, the system treats the search terms ?aying and *aying as if you had searched for aying.

Grouping search terms

You can use brackets to group terms within a search. For example, to search for art and either Ireland or Eire, type art (ireland OR eire) into Library Search.

Signing in to Library Search

Why should I sign in?

  • To get better search results. Some sources will not return results to Library Search if you are not signed in.

  • To get access to licensed electronic resources

  • To request books and other resources

  • To set your preferences, e.g. choose the number of search results you would like to see on each page

  • To add items from your search results to your Favourites and save whole searches to look at again later

  • To set up alerts so that you receive an email automatically if there is a new item that matches your search criteria

Remember to sign out, though, so your searches remain private and your personal settings cannot be adjusted by anyone else.

How do I sign in?

Click on the My Library Account link at the top of the Library home page before you start searching.

Alternatively, if you have done a search already, click on the Guest link at the top of the Library Search results page.


And then click on the Sign in link.

About SHU Links

SHULinks logo 

is a software product which automatically links together online databases. It takes information from one resource and uses it to build links to other services that have related content.

For example, we can link results of searches in indexing databases to the electronic journals which contain the full text of the articles found.

Whenever you see the button simply click on it to see a menu of options. These options may include links to the full text of an article.

Saving searches

If you have signed into Library Search and carried out a search, you will see a green pin icon at the top of the brief results page.

If you click on Save search, this will save your entire search so you can use it again it later.  

You can set up a notification for the search so that you will be emailed automatically any time new items are found.

To view your saved searches, click on the Favourites link at the top of the page and then select the SAVED SEARCHES tab.

What's Next?

In the next tab, you will learn about searching for your literature and evidence, moving on to using the more specialist resources we provide to support your course. The specialist resources require a set of skills to use effectively and our job is help you to acquire these skills. 

It's really important that you learn these skills as they are not only applicable to using the specialist resources but are transferable into your workplace too.