Search catalogues and databases

How to find books and e-books

Use LibrarySearch to find out what books (print and e-books), DVDs, videos, print journals, teaching materials and other items are held by the Library. Learn how to use Library search with the following guides:

For help with reading and downloading e-books, check our E-books page.

How to search using keywords

You can use the same general principles of searching for any subject database, LibrarySearch, and even Google.

  • In the search box, type your keyword e.g. football.
  • You can type in more than one keyword: you can either type them in the same box or you can type them in separate search boxes if the database has them.

Combine your keywords like this:

  • Football OR soccer - this search finds articles that mention either one of these subjects
  • Football AND knee injury - this search finds articles that mention both subjects together
  • If you want to find a phrase, you can often search using quotation marks, like this: “American football”

Every database will have its own search tips and help section.

For more help with choosing keywords, when searching, follow this guidance:

  • Check the meanings of any unfamiliar words or concepts in a dictionary.
  • Identify the different concepts or elements of your topic.
  • Make a list of relevant keywords for each element.
  • think of broader (more general) and narrower (more specific) terms. Broader terms might include the context (see examples below)
  • use synonyms and related terms (other words with the same or similar meaning)
  • include any geographical keywords needed (e.g. country or city name)
  • identify and include any key authors or theorists
  • include any relevant scientific tests/theories or legislation
  • use both abbreviations and the full version (e.g. UN and United Nations)
  • consider if case studies are useful and include ‘case study’ or specific name of case study if known

Here are some examples:

Topic: Children and gardening (in the context of occupational therapy)

The main concepts or elements are:

  • children
  • gardening
  • occupational therapy

Based on these concepts a list of keywords (search terms) can be made:

  • children, child, boys, girls, young people
  • gardening, outdoor activities, play, recreation, physical, extra-curricular
  • occupational therapy, wellbeing, benefits, health, recovery, rehabilitation

Topic: Open space in the city - a waste of space? (in the context of urban design)

The main concepts or elements are:

  • open space
  • city
  • waste of space - is it, or isn't it?
  • urban design

Based on these concepts a list of keywords (search terms) can be made:

  • open space, park, square, green
  • city, urban, town
  • waste of space, land use, shortage, housing, economic benefit, recreation, health, wellbeing, leisure, social, community, crime prevention
  • urban design, layout, sustainable, planning, regeneration

How to search databases for journal articles

If you have a topic and want to find journal articles which have been written on it, you should use a database.

All databases will give you the bibliographic information (e.g. author, title, journal name) about an article, some will give you an abstract (brief summary) of the article, and some will also give you the full text as well.

To find the most appropriate database for your topic, go to your course resource help page to see which databases are suggested by your Academic Liaison Librarian.

Get help

Library staff are always ready to help you with guidance on how to search for and use resources. Visit the Library Help Zone, JHB Level 1 (Library Enquiry Desks at other Brookes libraries).

+44 (0) 1865 483156