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Research 101: Finding Books & Ebooks: Searching for Books from ODU

Get the basics on books & library catalogs!

Looking for Books on a Topic?

How to Do a Keyword Search in the Library Catalogvisual thesaurus of words for women's rights

Learn how to (1) brainstorm your search terms and (2) carry out a good keyword search in the ODU library catalog.

Sample Topic: Women's Rights

Here are some possible terms you might brainstorm to use in your search:

  • role of women
  • gender studies
  • feminist or feminism
    • you can use feminis* to bring up either term
  • women's equality
  • status of women
  • women's suffrage
  • women's liberation

Let us show you how to take a topic and do a keyword search using our video and accompanying guide below.

This video will guide you through the process of searching for items in the ODU Library Catalog, including choosing appropriate keywords and narrowing and expanding your search results.

video of library catalog keyword search

Looking for Something Specific?

How to Search by Title & Author

ODU Library Catalog search box

Take the Challenge!

Assume you are looking for books that address the impact of art on social change. Can you answer the questions below? Click on them to view the answers & see if you know how!

Since you are looking for books concerning art and social change, you can simply use both of those terms in the library catalog: art, social change

Now choose the correct way to format your search:

Sorry--Wrong answer! Adding “OR” to your search alerts the catalog that you are searching for either the term art or the term social change, but not necessarily both of them together. And you need to add quotations around the phrase social change to let the catalog know you want to search those terms as a phrase, not separate words.
Sorry--Wrong answer! You don’t want to do a title search because you are not looking for a specific title of a book. You are looking for a variety of books on a specific subject. And you need to use quotations around the phrase social change to tell the catalog to search for the phrase, instead of the words social and change separately

Correct! You would want to do a keyword search in the library catalog because you are browsing for a number of books on a particular subject, not a specific title.

Choosing “AND” tells the catalog to look for both art and social change together.

Adding quotations around social change tells the catalog that you want to search for those terms as a phrase and not individual words

Okay, now that you have your initial search terms, it's time to brainstorm other search terms (synonyms) that you could use to find books related to the topic of art and social change.

Here are some of the other search terms you could try:

  • media, theater, painting, “visual art,” sculpture, music, artist, poetry
  • social movements, activism

There are many additional words you can try. It doesn’t hurt to just experiment a bit and see if you find any books that might be relevant to your research.