How do I find books?

Don’t be embarrassed if you need help finding books – if you haven’t looked before, why would you know how to find them? Before reading more, though, it’s important to note: to get relevant search results, think about the words you type into the catalogue.  See the blog post on Keywords for help with this step.

To find books, you can start at one of two different places.  The first is the Beryl Ivey Library homepage: there you will see that the default search says “Search Summon for Books, Articles and More.”  As the title suggests, searching here brings up books, but it also brings up journal articles, government information, and everything else the library carries.  You can limit your results list to just “Books” using the refinement on the left of Summon (see screen shot below), but this isn’t always the most effective.

One of our lovely librarians finding a book in the stacks.

A better way to search for books is to start at the Shared Library Catalogue.  You can find this either from the Beryl Ivey homepage or from Western Libraries: click the “Catalogue” tab or head straight to:  The catalogue is a big list of what we own at every campus library (including Brescia, King’s, Huron and St. Peters; and Weldon, Taylor, Music, Law, Business, Education and the ARCC).

Once you’re at the Catalogue, try the following steps:

  1. Click the “keyword” tab to open that screen. Type in keywords that relate to your topic (e.g. diabetes AND treatment)
  2. Review the results.  These are displayed in order of relevancy (you’ll notice I did a poor search – 1560+ results is WAY too many!):Jul 17 - diabetes and treatment.jpg
  3. Click the title from your results page to find more information: Jul 31 - diabetes and treatment 2
  4. Look at the Location to find out which inter-campus library holds the book (in this case, the book is at Brescia, which is indicated through Brescia General Collection
  5. Click on the location to find out more information (i.e. in the above example, clicking on Brescia General Collection tells me where to go in the library to find the book)
  6. Record the Call Number if you want to go get the book yourself
  7. Make sure the book isn’t checked out (“In Library” means it’s on the shelf)
  8. Click the Request Itembutton at the top of the screen to have the book delivered to Brescia (or whichever library you’d like)
  9. Mark the book to put it in your “shopping cart.”  You can then email or print out your list for future use.

Looking for books the first time inevitably leads to other questions: what does “stacks” mean, how do you read a call number, etc. You can always come ask a librarian – but if you’re off-campus, a quick way to find these answers it to use the Ask service on Western Libraries’ website.

In order to get the results you want, it’s important to think about the words you use while searching.  See the blog post on “Keywords” to learn more about how the catalogue functions. In order to get the results you want, it’s important to think about the words you use while searching.  See the blog post on “Keywords” to learn more about how the catalogue functions.

Can you download books from the library to an eBook reader?

Update: Western Libraries as provided a compatibility chart that you can use to see if a specific e-book format will be compatible with your device. If you have trouble with downloading an e-book, please check this chart.

Unfortunately, the simple answer is “maybe, sort-of.”  Brescia and the other campus libraries receive their eBooks from a variety of different publishers, meaning they’re not compatible with every e-reader.

A few librarians at Western have put together a LibGuide (webpage) to deal with this issue.  As the webpage says: “Most of the eBooks at your library are downloadable to a mobile device, whether an eReader, smartphone, or tablet. However, figuring out which device will work with which eBooks, and how much of an eBook is downloadable is not always easy. Various eBook collections come in different formats, which work with different devices. Also each collection has its own restrictions in terms of how much of the book can be downloaded” (Forbes, Jewell, Lupton, & Taylor, 2012).

To visit this webpage, please visit:

What is Summon?

Summon is Western Libraries main search product, and the default search box on the Beryl Ivey Library homepage.  It was introduced to allow students to find all different kinds of resources (i.e. journal articles and books together) in one quick, easy-to-use search, which the Shared Catalogue and searching databases do not.  Traditional database searching, for when you’re looking for journal articles, can also be irritating as they do not exclusively list articles that we have a subscription to.

When you search Summon you are looking at Western’s Shared Library Catalogue content in combination with roughly 90% of our online, full-text journal articles.   Depending on what topic you’re searching, there are a few “citation only” journal articles too, meaning that an abstract might be displayed in Summon, but the full-text article will not be linked there.

Here are my pros and cons for using Summon:


  • Easy to use:  if you’ve done any online shopping, Summon’s functioning will seem familiar.  It’s easy to limit your search results (i.e. by format, by library, by date) and to save your favourite articles.
  • Interdisciplinary: almost every program can use Summon as their first step in the research process.  For Brescia’s interdisciplinary programs like Foods and Nutrition, Family Studies, or Community Development, this can save you a lot of time and guesswork in choosing a database.
  • Citation formatting: once you’ve sent items to your “saved” folder you can view them in a variety of popular citation styles, including APA, MLA and Uniform Requirements.
  • It’s easy to find full-text journal articles: many times professors will give you a citation of a journal article to read for class.  It’s much easier to find these readings, as you can type in the name of the article into Summon and often find it on the first try.
  • Full-text articles: while there are some limitations to Summon’s functioning, it is easier to find full-text journal articles over traditional databases.  Usually.


  • Missing content: case-law and some business publications are not included in Summon.  This would affect our Criminal Psychology students at Brescia, as well as our MOS students.  Print journal articles are also not included.  So, for almost every student doing a research project, it’s still important to rely on databases to search for journal articles, or else you will likely miss important research.
  • SFX window: the Get it @ Western or SFX window links you between Summon and the full-text of the article – most of the time.  Many students (and myself) have expressed their frustration with this window, as it doesn’t seem to make much sense and often doesn’t work.  There are ways around this issue, which the library can help you with, but it still can be annoying.
  • Too much information? Results not appropriate for your subject?: because Summon is searching every discipline, our online journal articles, and the catalogue, it’s possible that you can get too many results in your search, like when you’re searching Google.  Again, this means that it’s often necessary to use a database when you’re searching for journal articles, as it will narrow your search specifically to your discipline.

There is a lot more I can say about Summon, but the question I was asked was “what is it.”   Overall, I really like this product, you just have to be aware of its limitations.