What Is in BU Libraries Search

BU Libraries Search provides a single place to search for a wide variety of academic material provided by the library. The material covered by the search includes books, journals, scores, video and audio recordings, and other physical items held by the library. The search also covers ebooks and ejournals owned by the library, as well as online material provided by the library from a variety of sources.

To allow searching across such a wide variety of resources, our search draws on numerous sources of information about the resources, with various levels of detail. In a sense, the search knows different amounts of information about different items.For example, a book owned by BU may only be searchable at the level of the whole book—the search will know the title, author, and subject of the book, but nothing more, so a search for a chapter title will not find the book. A different book may be more fully indexed, and you can search its table of contents, so a search for a chapter title would be successful. And yet another book–more likely an ebook–might have its complete text available for searching, which would make it possible to find not only chapter titles but phrases within a chapter.

To get full use out of our search, it is helpful to have some understanding of what is being searched and the extent of search capabilities for various resources. When you perform a standard search, all of the following resources are searched.

Collections Included in BU Libraries Search

BU Libraries Physical Collection

Description: These are the print books, print journals, scores, maps, video and audio recordings, microfilm, and other physical (rather than electronic) items owned by the library.

Search Capabilities: For books and most other physical items it is possible to search for the title, author or editor, publisher, and subject of the item, but not for individual chapters or within the full text of the item. Some books (especially newer books) do include the table of contents and more detailed description in the searchable content. For journals, the journal title, publisher, subject, and the dates/volumes held by the library are searchable. It does not include titles or authors of individual articles published in the journal.


Description: These are the journals viewable online via BU Libraries.

Search Capabilities: The journal title, publisher, subject, and the dates/volumes available through the library are searchable. A search does not find individual articles or allow full text searches of these journals, however, many (but not all) of the articles from these ejournals are also searchable. In some cases you can search for words within the full-text of the article.


Description: These are the books viewable online via BU Libraries.

Search Capabilities: As with physical books, the level of indexing for ebooks varies. Some have searchable tables of contents, some searchable full text, and others can only be searched by the standard author/title/publisher/date/subject.

Primo Central Index

Description: This is a large index of scholarly material that draws on numerous sources, including databases and open-access repositories. It includes information about journal articles, ebooks, reviews, legal documents, and more. Many (though not all) of the individual databases provided by BU’s libraries are included in Primo Central Index. The complete set of collections included in the BU Libraries Search is continually growing.

Some of the sources used by Primo Central Index include information about items that are not available from the library (for example, articles from a journal the library doesn’t subscribe to). By default, our search omits such items from the search results. To include these items, click on Expand My Results in the sidebar.


Search Capabilities:
Like BU Libraries Search itself, Primo Central Index draws its information from a variety of sources, so indexing can vary across the collection. In most cases, individual journals articles are indexed–and sometimes the full-text of these articles is searchable–while ebooks may have standard indexing or include table of contents or full-text indexing.