Skip to main content Logo

Geography: searching for books: Search for books

Version 1.2 (2012) Learn how to search the Library catalogue for books on geography.


        There are several approaches to searching for books starting from our Library Home page:  

  • Summon.  Searches both our library catalogue and selected journal, newspaper and magazine article databases for relevant materials but does so in a somewhat superficial manner.  Learn more about Summon from our guide.

You may miss important resources if you search only Summon. If you search Summon, we also suggest you search our Library catalogue.

  • Catalogue: The Library catalogue offers a number of options you can use when looking for books relevant to your geography assignments.  This tutorial will cover a few of these search options:  Title, Keyword Anywhere and Keyword Boolean.  The emphasis will be on the two types of keyword searching since these are the searches you’ll most likely need to use. We suggest that you do each step in this tutorial on a computer. You’ll learn a lot more that way than you will by just reading it! 

Search the library catalogue

To begin, go to the Library Home Page and click on the Search/Find Option on the left-and side of the page.



Click on Catalogue.



The next page opens in Basic Search.  There are 3 elements on this search page:


Title searching

Enter the Title of the book into the search box. 
Set the drop-down menu to search within Title.
Click Search.

Example:  Community, environment and health: geographic perspectives.

Hint:  Do not include punctuation when entering the title into the search box.

If the title begins with an article such as “the” or “a”, omit it.



  If the Library has the book you are looking for, a bibliographic record will appear.  Looking at the record gives us more information about the  book.

The blue hyperlinked Subjects show the main topics covered by the book.  This will give you an idea of whether of not the book might contain information relevant to your topic.  As well, clicking on any of the subject headings will take you to any other books on the same subject. 

 Below the subject headings is information on where the book is Located.  The library catalogue lists the holdings on all campus libraries:  Archer, Campion, Luther and First Nations University (FNUNIV). You may also see Sublocations in some libraries.  For example, Location: Archer micro.  means that the item is in our micromaterials collection which is housed in the Audiovisual / Micromaterials section on the main floor.  If you are unsure of any location, ask at the Information Desk.

 The Call number is a unique series of letters and numbers assigned to the book.  You’ll need to write down this call number in order to find the book on the shelf.

 Books showing Location: ARCHER are shelved on the 3rd and 4th floors, depending on the call number.  Books with call numbers beginning with letters A to M are on the 3rd floor.  Books beginning with N to Z are on the 4th floor.  Check to ensure the Status of the book is available.

 In this example the Call Number begins with R and the location is ARCHER. This book would therefore be found on the 4th floor.

Keyword Searching

Keyword Anywhere and Keyword Boolean are the types of searches you will use most often.  In most of your assignments, you will not usually have a list of titles or authors, but will be given a topic to research.

1)  Keyword Anywhere

Example topic:   You are taking a class in regional geography and you’ve been asked to “Discuss the geography of the Palliser Triangle in a short research paper. “

 The first step is to map out a search strategy by identifying the main ideas in your topic. 

Palliser triangle” is the main concept here.  This is a simple keyword search.

Enter palliser triangle in the search box. 
Check to ensure that the drop down menu says Keyword Anywhere.
Click Search.

NoteIf you have a phrase, such as “Palliser triangle”, use quotes around it.    Other common phrases are “United States”     “World Health Organization”    “First Nations”.  

This search retrieved several resources which could be useful for a geography paper. Click on any title to obtain Location, Call number, etc.

2)  Keyword Boolean

 For a more complex topic, try Keyword Boolean.  Boolean searching allows greater flexibility in your search.

 Example topic: You are taking a class in urban geography. Your assignment is to “Discuss the relationship between urban planning and human health.”

 Once again, the first step is to identify the key concepts in the topic.

Concept 1                                                Concept 2

 urban planning                                         health


In Boolean searching, different concepts are joined with the word AND, which is called a Boolean operator.  Combining concepts using AND tells the computer that you want only those records which contain all the terms.

 Using the concepts from our topic, a simple Keyword Boolean search would look like:

                                                 “urban planning” and health

Enter the search terms into the search box. Don’t forget, phrases, such as urban planning, need quotation marks around them.
Select Keyword Boolean from the Search within list and Click Search.


This search retrieved nineteen results.  This is a good start, but we want to see if there might be more books on our topic.  We need to broaden our search. To do this, we need to think of related terms or synonyms for our main concepts (where applicable).  We can also truncate words so that different word endings are retrieved.  The truncation symbol for the Library catalogue is a ?.

 Concept 1                                                Concept 2

 urban plan?                                              health
 city plan?                                                well-being
 urban sprawl                                            obesity

We now have several related concepts in addition to the original ones.  [There are other terms that could be generated under each concept.  To demonstrate, let’s keep this search fairly simple.]

Terms that are related are joined with the Boolean operator  OR  and are grouped together using parenthesis  (   ) .  This is called nesting and it tells the computer that these terms are related.

 Using the concepts from our topic, our new search would look like:

 (“urban plan?” or “city plan?” or “urban sprawl”) and (health or “well being” or obesity)

 Broadening the search retrieves 63 items.



Download this guide