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Library Skills Tutorial

Library Website

The Library website has many helpful resources. The following video introduces the UBC Library website, important tabs, and basic search options.

General Searching in Summon

Sometimes you want to search broadly to get started discovering sources.  The following video introduces UBC Library’s search engine, Summon, and how to use its features so you can find the topics and materials you are interested in AND so you can get access to them if they are available in full-text online.


Specialized Searching & Journal Articles

General Databases: Academic Search Premier

If you know what kind of resource you need and want to move on to more particular searching, you can use academic databases and subject-specific resources. In the following video you’ll get a chance to explore a good multi-disciplinary database called Academic Search Premier, referred to in the video as Academic Search Complete.  The video also covers how to limit your results list and to search for synonyms and particular phrases.

Links and transcript from the video:

Research Guides for Subject-Specific Resources

Now that you know the name of a good general database and how to use it, you need to learn how to find and access subject specific databases.  Using a subject-based database can be a real time saver over searching in an “almost everything we have” search tool like Summon, or even a good multidisciplinary tool like Academic Search Complete.  UBC Library has research guides to help you decide which database to use when you’re researching in a specific subject area.  Watch the following video to learn more:

Links and transcript from the video:

Finding a Book

Journal articles are often in-depth discussions of a very specific topic, and sometimes you want a more comprehensive perspective, or a reference work covering a topic, or an introductory-level text. This is where good academic books come in handy! UBC Library has an excellent range of books ranging from broad-ranging introductions to expert treatises. UBC's collection contains both print books, which can be accessed in library locations or requested from storage, and eBooks, which can be accessed online.

  • UBC has an in-depth Finding Books guide that covers many aspects of finding and using academic books!
  • If you are a community user looking to access UBC's eBook collections, check out this guide on guest access offered at UBC library locations.

Books as Search Results

When you're looking for a book specifically, there are a few ways to do this!

  • Search the catalogue of Books & Media using this page, or by selecting the "Books & Media" tab on the Library Homepage; the catalogue contains specific items like books, DVDs, and entire journal titles rather than individual journal articles.
  • Use Summon/General search (the default search described above), and then find the second filter category on the left called "Content Type" to select "Book / eBook"
    • If you would like to find eBooks specifically, you can select "Full Text Online," the very first filter option under "Refine Your Search," to only see eBooks.
    • If you want to look within a particular library, you can scroll down and expand the "Library Location" filter options. Selecting one of these will exclude eBooks unless you also select the "Online" location. Individual library locations or "branches" have different topical collecting areas, which you can learn more about in this video. To see a list of UBC's library locations and their hours, go to the Hours & Locations page.

What Kinds of Books?

  • Searching a topic with the keyword "introduction"
  • Searching a topic with the keyword encyclopedia

Many of UBC Library's books and other resources are electronic and can be accessed easily by clicking a link.

Print books are kept on the library shelves, called stacks. There are many benefits to visiting the stacks: browsing the shelves can give you ideas and inspiration for your research, the library offers a quiet and comfortable studying space, and librarians are always present to help if you get stuck.

The incredible number of print materials at UBC Library may seem overwhelming and difficult to navigate. However, as the infographic below explains, it is relatively easy to find the location of materials you find in Summon or the catalog by noting a few key pieces of information. The same information is also attached in a Microsoft Word document. And, if you get stuck, a librarian will be happy to lend a hand.

How to Read Call Numbers from UBC Library

For a text version of this information see: Finding Books at UBC Library.


Finding Indigenous Resources

Finding Indigenous Resources

Library organization systems, such as the Library of Congress classification system, were created from a western, colonial point of view. This means that finding Indigenous resources can be difficult, as these systems are not designed to represent Indigenous perspectives. Indigenous and non-Indigenous librarians are continually developing ways to help learners navigate these systems, as well as working to change these systems and develop new ones to better represent Indigenous perspectives, Knowledges, and worldviews. Explore the Indigenous Librarianship research guide to learn more.

Xwi7xwa Library is the Indigenous branch of UBC Library. Below are some highlighted resources by Xwi7xwa Library to get you started with finding Indigenous content and perspectives: 

The Research Guides portal showcases all of Xwi7xwa Library’s research guides, including topics such as Indigenous Film, land-based activism, education and more.

Not Finding What You Need?

Topic Troubleshooting: Current Events

How would you know if your topic is “too current” to research?  Understanding the publication timeline is the key to tackling current event topics.  Watch the following video to learn more about how information is created and shared – and how long it takes for scholarly work to hit the presses. You might not find scholarly research about a current event, but you can find good research and academic materials about the background!


Get More Help

Visit Ask Us for a full list of the ways to get help. The page includes AskAway, ways to contact the library for general help, and useful resources.

You can also get help at one of UBC's library branches. Each branch location has a different focus and can help with different topics. Visit in person during reference hours or contact through the branch reference email. More information can be found on the branch website.