You can use these databases or any others listed on the database pages; this list is only a suggestion of places to start your research. If the full-text is not available for the article you want to see, click the button or the "Find Text" link to see if the full-text is available in another database.
Finding Books in the Library Catalog
Use the Catalog search box located in the center of the library's homepage to search for books. To search for books on your topic, use the default Keyword search option and enter your search terms in the For box.
If you have a specific book or author in mind, before you enter your search terms in the For box, change the Search type from Keyword to:
- Title - to look for a specific book.
- Author - to look for books by a specific author.
To look for ebooks only, select Ebooks in the Limits field.
Finding Print Reference Books
You find print reference books using the library catalog.
Enter your search terms:
- To find a specific book, enter the title in the Search For box and select "Title" as the type of search.
- To find a book on a particluar topic, like sociology, enter the topic in the search box and select "Keyword" as the type of search.
Next, choose "Reference Room" from the "Limit to" drop down box. Then select the "Submit Search" button.
From the list of results that appears, click on the book's title to see more about it. To help you find the book, note the location and the call number.
Note: If "Stored" is the location, it's in the ASRS. Click the "Request" button to get it. The book will be at the Circulation Desk on the first floor in about 10-15 minutes.
Reference books cannot be checked out (there are exceptions for Faculty and Staff), but you can copy the pages you need using the photocopy machines located throughout the Library.
- Use keyword when your term may be very new, very distinctive, or jargon, e.g. "instant messaging", "XML".
- Use a variety of keywords. There may be additional items on your topic that use different terms.
- Be aware that you may retrieve items not related to your topic (called false drops)
- When you cannot remember the exact title of an item, do a keyword search using the title words you remember.
Keyword Searching Examples
Variety of terms: If you are looking for items on the "movies", use additional keywords such as "film", "films", "cinema", or "motion pictures".
An example of retrieving results unrelated to your topic (false drops): using the keyword "cricket" will retrieve items about the sport as well as the insect.
An example of using keywords to find titles when you are unsure of the exact title:
Both CAGED and BIRD are in 6 titles.
There are 6 entries with CAGED & BIRD.
You searched for the WORDS: bird caged
Found 6 items:
- Caged bird medicine : selected topics / Charles V. Steiner (1981)
- I know why the caged bird sings (1969)
- Many voices. 8A-6B (sound recording) : for Adventures for re (1986)
- Maya Angelou / Miles Shapiro (1994)
- Poco / by Garry and Vesta Smith; illustrated by Fred Crump (1975)
- Voices in Black & White : writings on race in America from H (1993)
Narrow or Broaden Your Search
Use AND between terms to narrow your search
example: television and violence and children
Use OR and/or truncate (*, ?) words to broaden your search
example: children or youth or adolescents
example: child* (will find child, children, etc.) Note: check online help for the correct truncation symbol
- Most databases allow for a symbol to be used at the end of a word to retrieve variant endings of that word. This is known as truncation.
- Using truncation will broaden your search. For example,
bank* will retrieve: bank or banks or banking or banker or bankruptcy, etc.
- Databases and Internet search engines use different symbols to truncate. In general, most of the Library's databases use the asterisk (*) ; however, the exclamation point (!) is used in LexisNexis. Check the database help screen to find the correct truncation symbol.
- Be careful using truncation. Truncating after too few letters will retrieve terms that are not relevant. For example:
cat* will also retrieve cataclysm, catacomb, catalepsy, catalog, etc.
It's best to use the boolean operator "or" in these instances (cat or cats).
Boolean operators are words (or, and, not) used to connect search terms to expand (or) or narrow (and, not) a search within a database to locate relevant information. Boolean operators are also called logical operators or connectors.
It is helpful to diagram the effects of these operators:
women or females
|Or retrieves records that contain any of the search terms. It expands the search. Therefore, use "or" in between terms that have the same meaning (synonyms) or equal value to the search.|
women and media
|And retrieves records that contain all of the search terms. It narrows or limits the search. Therefore, use "and" in between terms that are required to make the search specific.|
image not weight
|Not eliminates records that contain a search term. It narrows or limits the search. Therefore, use "not" in front of a term to ensure that the search will not include that term. Warning: Some databases use "and not" instead of "not." Check the database help screen.|
Using Google Scholar
You can find items the Oviatt Library owns using Google Scholar's capabilities. To activate the capabilities for your browser:
- Select Settings in the upper right, then Library links from the left menu.
- In the search box, type "CSUN" and select Find Library.
- Check the box next to "CSU, Northridge (SFX Find It)"
- Then select Save.
Select the SFX Find It at CSUN link (to the right of the article) or the SFX: Additional Options link (located below the article description) for access to online full text, Oviatt Library holdings information, and Interlibrary Loan.
Wildcards & Truncation in the Library Catalog
Use the single asterisk * truncation symbol to search variations of a word, up to five characters, for example: critic* will also retrieve critics, critical, criticism. However, to truncate a word that could have more than five characters after the root word, use two asterisks **, for example: bank** will also retrieve banks, banking, banker, bankrupt, and also bankruptcy.
Library Catalog Basic Search
Starting from the Library Catalog Basic Search screen you can search by Keyword, Title, Author, or Subject by selecting the radio buttons and typing search words in the text box.
The default Limits setting will search the entire collection. You may also limit your search to smaller sub-collections: Ejournals (electronic periodicals--not specific articles), Ebooks, NCOD (National Center on Deafness), TCC (Teacher Curriculum Center), Periodicals/Serials (not specific articles), Videos, Reference Room, Special Collections, or Sound Recordings by selecting a collection from the drop-down menu.
Searching for a specific Item
Select an Author or Title search if you know the author (last name, first name) or at least the first few words of the title.
Searching for Items by Topic
There are two ways to search the online catalog for resources on a topic: by Keyword or by Subject.
- A Basic Keyword search will simultaneously look for words in titles of materials, in subject headings, and in notes fields.
- A Subject search will locate materials by Library of Congress Subject Headings, which is a controlled vocabulary or standard list of subject terms. The Oviatt Library assigns Library of Congress Subject Headings to all items listed in the online catalog.
- Another way to find the Library of Congress Subject Heading for your topic is to search the catalog by Keyword, display the record for a relevant title, and select one or more of the Subjects listed for that record.
Library Catalog Advanced Search
For an Advanced search, select the Advanced Catalog Search link on the homepage. The Advanced search allows you to search by keyword in up to four separate fields, and optionally limit your search by language, material type, location, collection, publisher, or publication date.
To start your search:
- Select the field you want to search (Author, Title, Subject, Note, or "any field") from the first drop-down menu.
- Type keyword(s) in the adjacent text box. Two or more words entered together in one search box will retrieve records containing that exact phrase, unless there is no exact match. If there is no exact match for the phrase entered, the system will retrieve records contain all search terms entered, wherever they are in the record.
- (OPTIONAL) For a combined search, enter additional keywords into separate search boxes and choose the appropriate Boolean operators (and, or, and not) from the pull-down menu.