Skip to Main Content

Research Help: Finding Books & Articles

Finding Books

Use the Discovery Box on the library homepage to find print and ebooks located both at VWU Library and at libraries worldwide.  TIP:  When search a phrase, put the phrase inside quotation marks.  

Print books in the Hofheimer Library are organized by Library of Congress call numbers.  There are "cheat sheet" posters located upstairs near the stacks to help locate subjects. 

"Put phrases in quotes"

Advanced Search

Finding Articles

Scholarly articles can be found through the Discovery Box on the library homepage or in Databases.  See our Database Basics video tutorial on the library's YouTube Channel (Use the Tutorials tab in this guide).

General Databases (good for basic research): 

See Research Guides for subject specific databases and subject specific resources.

Journal Finder

Journal Finder is a tool that shows if the library has access to a journal title.  It is found on the library homepage.  See our Journal Finder tutorial.  Always check Journal Finder before submitting an Interlibrary Loan Request.


A keyword search uses the most important word or words in your topic, and is best if you aren’t searching a specific article title, author's name, or journal title.  A keyword search will find records that include any of your search terms in specific places such as title, author, table of contents, and subject.

Phrase searching is more specific than keyword searching.  Phrase searching tells the computer to search for two or more words in the exact order in which they are entered.  Type in the words exactly as you expect to find them, and enclose the phrase in quotation marks.

Field Searching can help you search more efficiently.  Electronic records are organized into separate fields.  Common fields include author, title, journal name, subject, abstract, publisher, and year of publication.  For example, if you were interested in searching for an article by a specific author, you would look at the box next to your search box, and choose Author from the drop-down menu. 

Boolean operators are words we use to connect search terms in database searches.  The Boolean search operators are and, or, and not

  1. AND combines search terms so that each search result contains all of the terms. 
    • For example, “media violence and youth” finds articles that contain both media violence and youth. 
  2. OR combines search terms so that each search result contains at least one of the terms.  
    • For example, “video games or television” finds results that contain either video games or television. 
  3. NOT excludes terms so that each search result does not contain any of the terms that follow it.  
    • For example,” teenagers not children” finds results that contain teenagers, but not children.

Subject headings (also called descriptors) describe the content of items in the database.  Sometimes, subject searching works better than keyword searching.  You may get fewer results, but you’ll be searching with more precision.  You can use the results of your keyword search to discover subject headings in the database.  They are usually found in the Subject Terms of the detailed record (which is found by clicking on the article). 


The Thesaurus is an online list of descriptors or subject headings for that database.  You can search and find a subject heading, which you could use to search by subject, as well as broader, narrower, and related descriptors.  The Thesaurus can be located in many databases by clicking the Subjects Term link at the top of the database. 

Interlibrary Loan

Can't find access to a book or article?  Learn more about Interlibrary Loan and set up an account using the barcode number on your VWU student ID.