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What's in the Library: Books: Finding Textbooks

Finding Print Textbooks at OCAD U

Searching for textbooks can be more complicated as there is no official designation in the library catalogue record for a print book of the TYPE of publication. When searching the LIBRARY CATALOGUE or SUMMON, try including keywords such as:

  • survey,
  • reader,
  • compendium.

As mentioned in the definitions page, TEXTBOOKS are much like REFERENCE BOOKS or TEXTBOOKS so should be used as a starting point for identifying:

  • key writers, theorist, critics, or authors who are experts on your topic, then search these people as authors in a library catalogue to access their own primary sources
  • keywords or subjects that you can use to search for books or peer-reviewed journal articles supporting these concepts

Below are two strategies for finding books using the artists, authors, subjects, or book titles sourced from a textbook:

1. Searching the Catalogue


The Library Catalogue is excellent for:

  • searching for specific books by title or author
  • finding a well-curated selection of the best examples of art & design related titles
  • using a general keyword search to find the best examples of art & design related titles
  • finding out the subject headings associated with your research topic (see: What is Research? Search Terms)


The Library Catalogue can be a problem when you:

  • do not know the exact title of a book: 
    • WHY? the catalogue will not search variants of a word or auto-correct spelling mistakes
  • are searching for new innovative subjects, such as wayfinding, biomimicry, internet microsites, etc.
    • WHY? the catalogue uses Library of Congress Subject Headings to describe books and many new, interdisciplinary topics are not included as official "subjects"
  • need to keyword search the entire text of a book.
    • WHY? the catalogue only searches a book:
      • title
      • author
      • subject heading
      • and sometimes table of contents, or brief descriptions of the book (from the book jacket or form the publishers' description)

In each of these cases, it is best to use:

  • Summon search for a more broad and open way to access the library's print books

Using the Library Catalogue

Keyword Searches

Select the default keyword search for:

  • general searches on topics, art movements, artists, etc.

Use the dropdown menu for general searches for:

  • authors, including artists or designers as authors
  • subjects
  • videos or DVDs

Browse Searches

Select the browse search option for:

  • specific SUBJECTS such as art movements, artists, geographic regions
  • specific AUTHORS: remember to use the last name first!
  • books that have very common TITLES, such as
    • "Art History" by Marilyn Stokstad; a general keyword search on art history will retrieve almost 5, 000 book titles, so is not an efficient way to find one specific book!
  • searching for PRINT JOURNALS by title

Advanced Search

Select the advanced search option for:

  • combining KEYWORD or SUBJECT search terms and specific AUTHORS, such as:
    • finding a book about printmaking (general keyword) but specifically by Picasso (as author)
  • searching for books in SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, such as:
    • Reference books only (for example to find a catalogue raisonné on an artist)
    • Rare Books or Bookworks
    • DVDs only
    • VHS tapes only

2. Searching Summon for Print Books


Using Summon to search for books is excellent for:

  • keyword searching the entire text of a print book
  • retrieving more results when searching for interdisciplinary topics, or new innovative areas of research
  • using the Summon search results to quickly format book titles for citations in MLA, APA, or Chicago Style
  • finding out whether a print book title at OCAD U is also available as an e-book (both print and electronic books will be displayed together)



Using Summon for finding print books can be a problem if you:

  • only need one or two books on a topic; sometimes having too many results is not helpful in deciding on the best book on your topic
  • have limited time to go to the library and retrieve the book; searching Summon for print books only requires a number of limits to be put in place when searching, so sometimes going directly to the Library Catalogue can be faster.

Using Summon for Print Books

From the library hompage:

  1. select More Search Options
  2. type in keyword terms, book titles, authors, or general subject
  3. find the "Content Type" box and scroll down to limit by "Book/eBook"
  4. find the "Limit to" section and select to "Items in the library catalogue"
  5. click "Search"

All the results you see will be print books that are included in the library's collection. Note that using Summon allows you to:

  • use the citation feature to quickly format book titles in MLA, APA, or Chicago Style
  • quickly see whether the book is "checked in" or "check out" to someone else
  • store up book citations in the "Save this item" folder then
  • email citations for books in MLA, APA, or Chicago Style