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Women's History: Using the Catalog & Library

Use this guide to learn more about researching women's history.

How to Find and Access E-Books: Interactive Tutorial


1 Starting from the Library's homepage, scroll down to find the catalog search. 

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2 The SLC Library recently changed its search function to make electronic materials much easier to find.   

To look for e-books in the catalog, simply select the E-Books tab before performing your keyword search. 

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3 Type the title of the book you're looking for into the search bar and either click Go or hit Enter. 

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4 Instead of narrowing your results to only what is in the SLC Library's collection, we suggest leaving your search set to Libraries Worldwide.   

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5 Because of campus closures due to COVID-19, many publishers have made their collections freely accessible. 

This first result says it's Held by other libraries, but you are still able to access the e-book by clicking on the View eBook button. 

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6 To find out more information about the book, click on the Title

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7 From here, click on View Description to get more bibliographic information.

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8 Here you will find details about the book, such as publication information, as well as what edition it is.  

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9 If it's not the edition you're looking for, click on Explore Editions and Formats to see other editions of the book.

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10 To access the e-book, simply click on the View eBook button. 

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11 This will bring you to the e-book within whichever database is providing access to it. 

In the case of the Internet Archive, you will have to create a free account to borrow the book for 14 days. 

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12 If you were not able to find the e-book you were looking for, the Library may be able to purchase it for you.   

To suggest a purchase, go back to the Library's homepage by clicking on the link for Sarah Lawrence College. 

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13 Click on the Suggest a Purchase button on the right-hand side of the page.    

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14 Then, fill out the Suggest a Purchase form with as much detail as possible. 

On the form, you are given the option to be notified when the e-book comes in.     

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15 Have questions? We're here to help! 

Email us at

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Here's an interactive tutorial

Search the Catalog

Librarian Tip: You can search the catalog for a variety of items (articles, books, DVDs, and more). Looking for a specific article? Just search for the title of it in the catalog, just like you would for a book or DVD.

Keyword and Subject Searching

Keywords Subjects
Natural language words that describe your topic Pre-defined "controlled vocabulary" that describe what an item is about 
More flexible search - looks for anywhere the words appear in the record Less flexible search - only the subject fields will be searched
Broader search, but may yield irrelevant results Targeted search; results are usually more relevant to the topic, but may miss some variations

Keyword searching is how we normally start a search. Pull out important words or phrases from your topic. 

Subject Terms and/or Headings are pre-defined terms that are used to describe the content of an item. These terms are a controlled vocabulary and function similarly to hashtags on social media.

We are indebted to the MIT What are subject headings and keywords? box for some concepts displayed here.

In the Catalog, subject headings are displayed under "Description" in the record of an item. Click on the arrow to the left of "Description" and then scroll down to the section called "Subjects."



In the Databases, subject headings may be listed as Descriptors, Subjects and/or Subject Headings and are typically located in the Abstract and/or Details of an article.

Create a Search Using Commands

1. Isolate keywords from your topic.

2. Narrow your search results to include both of your keywords using AND.

librarian AND “active learning” AND “information literacy”

3. Continue building onto your search, and expand your options using OR to find similar terms.

librarian AND “active learning” AND “information literacy” AND (student OR researcher)

Combining search terms with AND:

  • Narrows your search, reducing the number of results.
  • Makes the search focus more specifically on your topic.

For Example

A search for librarian yields 172,745 results

A search for “active learning” yields 16,358 results

A search for "active learning" AND librarian yields 1,243 results

Combining search terms with OR:

  • Expands your search and increases number of results.

For Example

A search for student yields 3,698,871 results

A search for researcher yields 1,425,100 results

A search for student OR researcher yields 4,690,553 results

Combining search terms with NOT:

  • Narrows your search, decreasing your search results.
  • Tells the search to exclude certain terms.

For Example

A search for college yields 3,378,136 results

A search for college NOT “high school” yields 2,916,582 results

Use Quotation Marks to:

  • Narrow your search.
  • Combine search terms that are more than single worlds.

This shows the search engine that you want the terms to be found together. The search will look for exactly what you place in the quotation marks, so be sure there are no mistakes.

For Example

A search for information literacy yields 147,695 results

A search for "information literacy" yields 13,038 results


Use Truncation to:

  • Expand your search.
  • Give your search tool flexibility to find alternate endings for your search term.

Search engines match your terms to results; they will not automatically find an alternate version of it. Truncation tells the search to match the root of your term and gives it freedom to find whatever endings it can.

For Example

A search for Librarian yields 172,775 results

A search for Librar* yields 1,887,533 results

These commands are called Boolean Operators.


1. denoting a system of algebraic notation used to represent logical propositions, especially in computing and electronics.

What does that mean for you?

If you are having a hard time finding what you need, use the Boolean Operators outlined here to more efficiently search databases.

No matter where you are searching - the catalog, Google Scholar, a database you will want to use Boolearn Operators to refine your search to your specifications.

We are indebted to the Butler University Library's And/Or/Not box for some of the content displayed here.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

If we don't have an item here at Sarah Lawrence you can request it through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). This means we will look to see if another library has the item and if we can borrow it from them. If we can borrow it you will get an email when the item arrives here at the Library. To request an item through ILL, find it in the catalog and click on the blue Request button.



To find out more about Interlibrary Loan see our Guide.