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Visitors' guide to the Library: Find books

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.

Performing searches

You can search Library Search like you would a search engine on the web. 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 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.

Finding a book

Signing into 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.

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.

Using Favourites

The Favourite option allows you to save and organize items that you find in your search results. To view your Favourites click on the link at the top of the results page. 

Saving items to Favourites

To add an item in your results to your Favourites, click on the pin icon.  You will see the pin icon and the background colour change.

Removing items from Favourites

To remove an item from your Favourites, click on the pin icon a second time.  

Alternatively, click on the Favouries link at the top of the search results page.  A list of the items on your Favourites will appear.  Select the pin icon next to the items you want to remove.

Search results page

The search results page displays all the items that match your search terms. For each item in the results, you can see the following information:

  • Resource type - the format of the item, such as whether it's a book or a journal article.  This is represented by a small image.
  • Title 
  • Author, creator, and publication date
  • Source - journal articles will display details of the journal they are from
  • Availability information

Screenshot of brief results page

On the right of each item of the list you will also see some icons

  • Citation icon - click to view a citation of the item in several formats that you can cut and paste into a bibliography.
  • email icon - click to email the details to yourself or a colleagues 
  • Pin icon - click to add the item to your Favourites.‚Äč
  • Click the three dots to reveal some more options

Journal articles may also display an icon to indicate that it is from a peer reviewed journal. 

The View Issue Contents link allows you to explore other articles from the same journal.

Full display

In Library Search, click on a title in the Search Results list to view the full details of the item and some more options.

Find online

The Find online option is displayed for items that are available electronically.  If you click on it, you will usually see a list of links to sources where you can view the full text. Click on any of them to get to the full text.

Find in library

The Find in library option appears when an item has physical copies in the Library. Details of the location and availability of individual copies are displayed.  

You can use the Filter and Expand options to show more details of each item.



The Details section shows more information about the item, including a description of its content.

Request options

If none of the copies are available you can use the Request options to put a hold on the next copy returned or, if it is an item that is unavailable at SHU, you can request a copy from another library through our Document Supply Service.

Virtual Browse

The Virtual Browse displays for books in the library and allows you to find other books on similar subjects, by showing other titles that are shelved at similar subject numbers.

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