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Start Here: How do I pick the right materials for my research?

Why? Why Not?

Why? For an overview of a topic, for a detailed discussion of a topic, books are usually proofread, edited, and fact checked more extensively than other types of sources
Why not? Not for very recent topics, or very specific topics, may not contain multiple perspectives


TIP: Check your spelling or typing if you're not getting any results, or not getting what you expect. Ask for help if you’re still not sure!
Our Research Guide and Video Tutorial give even more details and tips on how to use OneSearch. 

Tips for finding and choosing books

Person holding a pile of booksOneSearch, lists all books,e-books, periodical titles, and non-print material (like DVDs ) that the library owns when you choose the "Physical Materials" option. If you do not choose that option, it will also show you articles an other format materials.

  • You can also choose a general "MultiSearch and then use the tools to narrow down by "Resource type" where you can choose "Books"

  • We have several locations in the library so when you find a listing in OneSearch note the title, author (if any) and FULL collection/call number (e.g. Main Stacks HD62.5 .M387 2005) to find the item on the shelf. Some books are also available in ebook format and they will show "Available Online".

  • Subject headings and keywords can help you get better results
    When you search OneSearch in the "physical items"  option, you are looking for all the words you've typed to be found in some combination of the title of the book/item, the author's name, the publisher's name, chapter headings or summaries that might be part of the record, and the subject of the book/item.

    • Sometimes that will get you good results, but sometimes you'll get too much, or too many irrelevant-looking items listed. Instead, you can choose an advanced search to search by subject (instead of "all fields") which are specific words--like tags--assigned to describe an item.

    • "Subjects" are like tags but are sometimes longer and use more formal language. They are mostly assigned by the Library of Congress, and are standardized for most college and university libraries in the US.

    • They may or may not be the words you would use to describe something, but it allows most books on a subject to be found by searching a few specific word(s) or phrase(s) without having to try endless combinations like you might have to do on a Google search

    • There are some useful lists of subject headings or ask a Research Services Librarian for help if you can't figure out what word or phrase would work best. For example, there are OneSearch book listings under all of the following subject headings covering a huge variety of topics:

      • Art deco

      • Clothing trade -- Directories

      • Costume – England

      • Melville, Herman

      • Metropolitan Museum of Art

      • Psychology

      • Small business

      • Versace, Gianni

  • Looking for books with good images?

Just want a overview of a topic?

You can use a general ENCYCLOPEDIA.or a specialized subject ENCYCLOPEDIA, DICTIONARY, OR HANDBOOK

  • In OneSearch, type your basic topic, along with the word or phrase “dictionaries”, “encyclopedias” or “handbooks, manuals, etc”.   For example:

    • Canada Encyclopedias

    • Personnel management Handbooks, manuals, etc.

    • Textile fabrics Dictionaries

  • Try searching for online ones through the FIT Databases like

Have a question or comment about these guides? Contact: