Summon is the UBC Library's meta-discovery tool that provides a single starting point to find and to access the majority of the UBC Library collections - including books, ebooks, scholarly journals and articles, newspaper articles, dissertations and theses, videos, maps, manuscripts, music scores, digitized items, and more.
Summon is very fast and excels at finding print books, ebooks, journal articles, film and media, and a multitude of other resources using keyword searching. It's a good starting point for research. Summon only indexes about 80% of our articles and doesn't cover some full text resources such as the Oxford reference guides and handbooks so you should also use specialized databases for your research. Use the Advanced Search if you want to search by specific fields (i.e. author, title, call number, subject headings, etc.).
When searching Summon, it's important to use quotation marks around phrases. For example, try searching monkey beach and notice the number of results returned; then redo the search using quotation marks "monkey beach" and review the results. Try narrowing your results to books/ebooks; clear the filter and then try journal articles.
You can also use Summon to find a known journal article quickly. For example, try searching for this article ""Black States": Diasporic Affect in the Prose of Dionne Brand" by David Chariandy published in TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, 2016, Volume 34, pp. 87-102.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Most library catalogues use Library of Congress Subject Headings for subject description. These are available in a six-volume set on the counter behind the Research Commons Desk and online . These subject headings:
Reliable searching depends on understanding the relationship between natural language and deliberate subject description. The latter structures and controls natural language. Use of controlled subject headings or a thesaurus eliminates synonyms, defines a hierarchy of inclusion (broader than, narrower than), and indicates some less precise semantic connections. Scope notes may elaborate on distinctions made among terms.
For example, the subject heading British Literature has a scope note and many cross-references, which give a good sense of the range of possible headings:
Scope note: Here are entered works on the literature of the British Isles or Great Britain not limited to literature in one language or from one area. Works limited to literature in one language or from one area are entered under the specific heading, e.g. English literature; Scottish literature.
When you are starting your research on a topic, try looking up your key concepts in the Library of Congress Subject Headings. Often you will find ideas for other terms that will help you to find more relevant materials held in the Library.
After you find a relevant book on your topic, you can also browse the catalogue by the Library of Congress call numbers to find more titles.