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How to Use BU Libraries Search

Start with a quick video overview

See this tutorial and others for more tips on using BU Libraries Search (videos may require BU login).

Know what you’re looking for?

Including as many words from the title or an author name in your search is a good place to start. For articles, you may have success copying and pasting the article title from a citation, or even the entire citation.

If you know the exact title (or exact portion of a title) you can use quotation marks around your search [Examples: “A Brief History of Time”, “Huckleberry Finn”], but note that variations in spelling and punctuation can prevent a match to the proper result.

The Availability filters allow you to limit to results that are either online or physically available in the library.


The Material Type filter can also quickly limit results to articles, books, or other types of resources.


For Course Reserves readings you can also search by course number, course name, or instructor name. Use the Course Reserves drop down or button in the advanced search to limit to only reserves readings.

If the above video does not load, view the Finding Course Reserves Readings in BU Libraries Search tutorial in a separate page (video may require BU login). See also Course Reserves Help for more details.

Doing research on a topic?

Start with a broad search and narrow down using some of these methods:

    • Look for related subject terms. Note that subject terms are not always used consistently in records. For example, when searching for World War II related materials, books may use the subject “World War (1939-1945)”, whereas peer-reviewed articles may use “World War II”. Other records may be missing subjects but contain words that match your search in the title or abstract.
    • Keywords matching your search terms will be highlighted in the results.
    • Consider limiting to peer-reviewed articles or to a certain material type (books, articles, etc.).
    • Use the * character as a wildcard in place of one or more characters. [Examples: recycl*, organiz*, hymn*]
    • Searches can also be nested in (), combined with “” and the Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT. [Example: “World War II” AND (sites OR battles) NOT (Normandy OR Pearl Harbor)]

You can find subject-specific assistance within our Research Guides.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

BU Libraries can get it for you through our Interlibrary Loan Services. If you’ve identified an article or other resource you’d like to request within BU Libraries Search, once you’ve signed in you’ll find a link to request the item.



See our Interlibrary Borrowing Help for further assistance.

You can also search beyond BU for books and more using WorldCat Discovery.

Advanced Features

BU Libraries Search allows you to save results, set notifications for newly added resources, and export results to reference managers. See more details here.

We’re here to help

Ask a librarian for further assistance. You can contact us via email, chat, phone, or in person.