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Home: Library Catalogue search guide


Use the SFU Library Catalogue to find books, articles, films, government documents, journals, newspapers, maps, and other media in the Library's collection. 

Rules and tips for most searches

  • For most searches, start with your keywords, then limit or refine your search to narrow results (by publication type or format, date range, location, and so on)
  • Use quotation marks to search for phrases, e.g. "truth and reconciliation"
  • Type your search terms in upper or lower case. Searching for simon is the same as searching for SiMoN.
    • However always use capital letters when doing expert searching using terms AND, OR, and NOT.
  • Spaces do matter. For example, searching for ICBC is different than searching for I C B C. Try both forms to avoid missing anything.

What's included in the Library Catalogue?

The SFU Library Catalogue includes:

  • the Library's physical collections (including books, videos, maps, reports, microformats and journals by title)
  • course reserves
  • ebooks, including online reference materials
  • many (but not all) journal articles available through the Library's database subscriptions
  • your Library record.

Use Library Search instead for these resources (not included in the Catalogue):

What kind of search should I do (Basic, Advanced, or Browse)?

Basic search

Start with Basic search when exploring a new topic or looking for quick results -- then adjust and improve if needed as you go.

A basic search may get you everything you need, or can be the first step to a more advanced search strategy, like using subject headings. 

Expert searching in Basic search

You can also use powerful search techniques in Basic search, such as:

  • looking for citations: start by entering the words and phrases you have (article title, author, and/or other information)
  • using quotation marks for phrases, e.g. "moral panic and media framing" (for an article using that exact phrase)
  • using commands like AND, OR, and NOT 

Advanced search

Advanced search allows you to combine multiple search terms using multiple search fields -- and limit your search from the start. 

It doesn't give you more or different results than a Basic search, but it allows you to focus your search immediately, without using special search commands.

Browse search

Browse search shows you a list of search terms, and is especially effective when you are looking for works in the Library by (or about) a specific author, or you have a call number or a subject heading.

Tip: When you are looking for an exact title or author -- and don't want articles or reviews -- Browse search can be a very fast and effective approach. Consider starting here when searching for terms that are very common, or as a next step when a Basic search brings back overwhelming results.

Note that Browse search does NOT include articles, chapters, entries in encyclopedias, etc.

Sign in for extra features, including renewals and requesting items

You do not need to sign into the SFU Library Catalogue to see the books, journals, and other items owned by the SFU Library.  Anyone can search the Catalogue and see items owned by the Library without signing in.

However you will need to sign into the Catalogue to request or renew items, to access your Library account, and in some cases to access full-text. For more information and functions, see Why should I sign into the Library Catalogue? How do I sign into the Library Catalogue?

Questions and help

For more help, ask a Librarian.