The good, old fashioned book is often a good place to start your research, but how will you know which books will you need? How will you find them? Here Helen Yendell provides a guide to optimising your book searches, both at the Library and worldwide.

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The Library Catalogue

The University of Warwick Library is a good place to start. The Library Catalogue can be accessed here.

The Library Catalogue has a “Help” section, with more information on its advanced features:

  • Storing your own lists of books
  • Accessing your reading history
  • Saving searches and setting up alerts
  • Exporting records to your reference management software
  • Mobile access for smart phones

Index searching

You can search the Library Catalogue by keyword (which is the default option), but you can also search within an index on the Library Catalogue (eg by subject or author’s name), by clicking on ‘Change type of search to’ and choosing title, author, subject or another option.

Finding books at other libraries in the UK

It’s unlikely that you’ll find all the books you need at Warwick’s library. You can search for books held at other libraries through the Copac library catalogue.

Copac offers free access to the merged online catalogues of many major university, specialist and national libraries in the UK and Ireland, including the British Library. It also allows you to create an account for storing/exporting references, or to set up an RSS feed.

Worldwide catalogues

WorldCat is a world-wide library catalogue that lets you search 10,000 library catalogues simultaneously. This may be especially useful for finding information on rarer items. You can access WorldCat off-campus by entering your Athens username and password.

Global Books In Print gives access to information (including pricing) on millions of books, audio books and video titles from around the world. Note: you can only search Global Books in Print from Warwick campus computers.

Google Books used to be known as ‘Google Print’ and ‘Google Book Search’. Google Books is a subscription service from Google. Unlike library catalogues and booksellers’ sites, Google Books searches within the full text of the books themselves – although it will not show you the entire text unless the book is out of copyright or the owner has given permission.

Accessing books not in the Library

There are generally two options for accessing a book not held in Warwick library.
The Library’s document supply service can try to find a copy of the book somewhere in the UK or Ireland and have it sent to Warwick for you to use.

If you need many books from another library, however, or if a book you need is not available in the UK/Ireland, you may need to visit that library yourself.

Using book reviews

Book reviews from journals are usually included in databases, so this can be a great resource for locating relevant books. There is often a search filter on the databases that will allow you to search only for book reviews.

Publishers’ websites

Who are the main publishers in your discipline? You can visit their websites to see if they are advertising any forthcoming books. You may be able to sign up for alerts about new publications.

Image Andy Mabbett