What’s New in BU Libraries Search

February 2024

The February upgrade will occur on Sunday February 4th, between Midnight and 5am.

Central Discovery Index: Subject Normalization and Updated Keyword Fields

To provide a more consistent search and browse experience, article keywords have been split from true subject terms (mapped from a global thesaurus) in records for online resources coming from the Central Discovery Index (CDI). These terms are displayed separately on the full view of the record, but are still discoverable via the Subject search index. This change is primarily for ease of display and does not affect the search engine or search algorithm in BU Libraries Search. For information on how subjects and keywords are sourced from the publishers, please see the documentation at the vendor platform: Using Normalized Subject Headings from CDI

Record Send To Actions: QR Code

The QR code has been re-enabled in the record send to actions for the brief and advanced record. To access send to actions from the search results, choose the horizontal ellipsis menu.

January 2024

On Tuesday January 9th, Boston University Libraries will perform an upgrade of our discovery platform, BU Libraries Search. Work will begin at 2am Eastern and is scheduled to be completed by approximately 10am. We do not expect any loss of access to search, online resource access, or requesting of print materials during this time frame. If you experience trouble accessing or using BU Libraries Search during this window, please report your issue to the library and we will do our best to help you.


Jan. 10, 2024 11am: At this time, the main platform migration is complete. Work to migrate favorited/saved records to the new platform is ongoing. If you are experiencing any issues with searching, sign in/my account, or requesting please contact the Libraries.

What is this upgrade for?

This upgrade will move configuration and management of resource discovery into a unified platform with our catalog software, meaning faster response times to troubleshoot errors, expanded possibilities for future feature releases, and to ensure that we continue to provide high quality research materials to our patrons wherever, and whenever they need them.

What is changing with this upgrade?

The TLDR is, not much! All scholarly content will remain indexed and accessible via BU Libraries Search and much of the interface will look familiar if not identical. Most of the changes to the system are on the backend and affect the librarians managing content and search more than researchers. Some specific changes include:

  1. Updated Linking: Use the “Get PDF” or “Read Online” buttons to access full text at the publisher platform directly from search results.
  2. Campus Wayfinding: Check out the “Locate” button on the full record for information on how and where to access print materials from all Libraries on campus.
  3. Index Refinements: Updates to specific search indexes as well as faceting and metadata display are intended to improve the search experience for patrons. Changes to the search algorithm and how some records are indexed will change the retrieval and order of search results.
  4. Added Features: Check out the new “Expand Results Beyond BU” and “Search in Full Text” options, as well as “Search Inside” on journal records and BU Spotlight! If you have questions about how a new feature works please contact the library and we will try and get you an answer.

Stay tuned to this page over the Spring semester for further updates to features and functionality!

What do I need to do?

Most patrons do not need to do anything for this version upgrade.

  1. Favorited records: These will be migrated to the new platform by the vendor before Go Live. This process may extend beyond 10am Tuesday January 9th. If you find you are missing favorited records, please contact the library. NOTE: If a record has been deleted by the vendor from their database, the library cannot retrieve that record.
  2. Saved URLs: Durable links to records in BU Libraries Search should automatically redirect to the new platform. If you are experiencing issues accessing links saved prior to January 9th, please contact the library.
  3. Search alerts will NOT be migrated to the new platform. If you are unsure of how to recreate a search alert or would like to discuss how to best use this feature, please contact the library.
  4. Patrons using the following resources: Astrophysics Data Source, EndNote, and Zotero – you will need to make a configuration change to your personal account for the link resolver to properly connect citations to full text content. Please contact the library for instructions.

How do I get help?

Patrons should submit a ticket with an explanation of their issue and if possible, screenshots or a screen recording to the following ticketing system: https://askalibrarian.bu.edu/

November 2023

The November update will take place at the end of the month. The following features will become available at that time.

Citation Format during Copy / Paste

Previously, the Citation export action copied citations to the clipboard in plain text format, but the citation’s formatting (such as italics) was lost when copying it to a document (such as Word). The Citation export action now saves the citation to the clipboard in Rich Text Format (RTF) and retains the citation’s formatting when copied to Word documents.

Please Note: When using a plain text editor such as Notepad, the text is copied without formatting.

Changes to Zero-Result Searches

To reduce zero-result searches and improve the requesting experience in BU Libraries Search, the search engine will automatically attempt to expand to resources held Beyond BU when no match can be found in our print or online collections. This feature only applies to searches which return zero results and does not affect the functionality of BU Libraries search as a whole. Some search strings may still return zero results.

Zero results page in BU Libraries search with no records.

When this feature is activated, patrons will see the following warning banner: “No results found. Your search was expanded beyond BU Libraries.”

BU Library search results page showing expanded results beyond BU Libraries

For records with no available full text, regardless of where they are found in BU Libraries Search, patrons may sign in to request print resources when available or submit an Interlibrary Loan request for the resource from another library.

August 2023

The August update will take place at the end of the month. The following features will become available at that time.

Additional Resource types for CDI Records

BU Libraries Search now supports the following new material types used in metadata from the Central Discovery Index (CDI):

  • Magazine – A popular interest periodical usually containing articles on a variety of topics that are written by various authors in a non-scholarly style.
  • Magazine Article – A self-contained nonfiction prose composition on a fairly narrow topic or subject, which is written by one or more authors and published under a separate title in a magazine.
  • Questionnaire – A set of printed or written questions with a choice of answers, which is devised for the purposes of a survey or statistical study. It is used for records from the Henrietta Szold collection.>

Please note that these types are assigned by the vendor and not the library. We cannot guarantee the complete accuracy of this feature, and if you find false positives, please report them so we can work with the vendor to improve the feature.

May 2023

The May update will take place at the end of the month. The following features will become available at that time.

Improving the User’s Session Timeout Experience

When working in BU Libraries Search, you may have experienced a session timeout, resulting in your working potentially being lost and having to sign back in. The May update will extend the automatic session timeout period to eight hours to ensure a smoother research experience for all BU patrons. When the timeout window is closing you will be prompted to extend your session or sign out. Please note: if you choose to sign out, or close the final active browser tab of a BU Libraries Search session your session will end.

Changes to Ex Libris’ Central Discovery Index (CDI) Search

Ex Libris, the software vendor the libraries partner with for BU Libraries Search, has begun to use an Open-Source AI tool called GROBID to enhance searching of their Central Discovery Index (CDI). CDI results are made up of online resources of all types from a wide variety of publishers and records can be found in the BU Library Resources and More Articles Beyond BU tabs of BU Libraries Search. GROBID will be able to parse citation metadata from an end user to enhance searching for known items. Testing of the feature by Ex Libris has shown that it has improved the experience using Primo (the software behind BU Libraries Search) and reduced the overall number of failed searches.

Patrons should not notice any change to the user interface or functionality of BU Libraries Search.

Ongoing Accessibility Enhancements

The following is a list of accessibility enhancements by Ex Libris released in the May update. Please note that some language may not reflect the exact existing user interface of BU Libraries Search.

Issue ID  Description 
1113855  Available in institution in Full Display – The contrast ratio between link or button text and its background was not at least 4.5:1 on hover and/or on focus. This has been fixed by adjusting the color of the hovered or focused link or button text and/or background to increase the contrast to at least 4.5 to 1. 
1102713  Elements did not have sufficient color contrast. This has been fixed by adjusting the color contrast to at least 4.5 to 1. 
1113759   Apply Filter button in Tweak you Results section – The contrast ratio between link or button text and its background is not at least 4.5:1 on hover and/or on focus. This has been fixed by adjusting the color of the hovered or focused link or button text and/or background to increase the contrast to at least 4.5 to 1. 
1124195    bX image in the Related reading section – All or portions of text over an image do not meet the minimum 4.5:1 contrast requirement. This has been fixed by adjusting the text and/or background to increase the contrast to at least 4.5 to 1. 
1099610  Elements did not have sufficient color contrast – This has been fixed by adjusting the color contrast to at least 4.5 to 1. 

Data Mapping Refinements

Three changes have been made to the metadata mappings between the library catalog software Alma and BU Libraries Search.

  • Improved CSL Mapping – Differentiate Authors and Creators 
    • This change will allow for creators and contributors to be better differentiated based on available MARC metadata when BU Libraries Search creates a citation.  
  • Extra periods on edition statements 
    • This change will remove the duplicate punctuation which appears following edition statements in BU Libraries Search results and citations. (MARC 250 subfields a & b) 
  • Faceting update for the Gotlieb Center 
    • This change updates the language of the “Library” facet in BU Libraries Search for The Gotlieb Center. 

Patrons may need to update durable links for searches and/or records in BU Libraries Search due to these changes. For more information, please contact Library Technology and Discovery Services.

Database Renormalization

The local database behind BU Libraries Search will be fully renormalized and reindexed beginning on May 26th, 2023, to reduce errors associated with record drift and to deploy changes to metadata display. Update: Previously this was scheduled for May 19th, it will now take place beginning the afternoon of Friday June 2nd.

February 2023

The February update will take place at the end of the month. The following features will become available at that time.

Search for saved records in My Favorites

You can now quickly search your saved records in BU Libraries Search! This simple keyword search is performed on the title, author, and label fields of your saved records and is available to users who have signed into their account in BULS. Please note that this search cannot be performed across multiple fields of the record.

My favorites record search

To cancel the search and return to your full list of saved records, select the “X” next to your search term.

Cancel search in my favorites

Personal Settings in My Account

You can now configure your account in BU Libraries Search to allow or disallow the system to save your search history and use it for recent search suggestions when signed in. Please note that the default moving forward for new library accounts is for searches not to be saved. If you are interested in checking your settings for this feature, please sign into BU Libraries Search and navigate to My Account > Personal Details and Settings > Personal Settings.

My account personal details and settings options

Call Number “Starts With” Search (Advanced Search)

In the advanced search box, you can now perform a “starts with” search on call numbers for items from the collection here at BU Libraries. For more information on call numbers and finding materials in the libraries, please see our guide on Library of Congress call numbers. Please note that search results will not be sorted alpha-numerically by the call number, but the sort can be changed to date, author name, or title. For call number browse, please see the virtual browser at the base of the title full record.

Call number starts with search example

ISSN Search (Basic Search)

ISSN is now available as a basic search option below the search box in the drop down “anywhere in this record.” Searches will work with or without the hyphen between the numerals of the ISSN.

ISSN basic search example

May 2020

Persistent Filters for your Search Session

You can now quickly remember all filters for all searches in a session. Use persistent filters to search across selected material types, subjects, journal titles, dates, or any combination.
BU Libraries Search remember all filters button
BU Libraries Search remember all filters on

December 2019

Emailing Records and Saved Search Alerts

The format of emailed records is now simplified to include brief information, location and call number, and links back to view the full record.

Selecting Results in Bulk

Multiple records can be selected at a time, or up to 50 in bulk. These can be exported in bulk to reference managers, saved to favorites, emailed, or printed.
selecting search results in bulk

Links to Interlibrary Loans in My Account

After signing in to My Library Account, you’ll find links to InterLibrary Loan accounts to view your loans and open requests.

August 2019

Library Help Search Options

We’re making it easier to find guides to research in your subject area, course, or on how to use library resources. To get right to these guides, look for these “Library Help” search options.
search scope library help
search drop down for library help

New material types are now available to improve filtering to these guides.
search facets for guides

May 2019

Help Menu

Search tips, details on key features, and help contact information are now readily available from the main menu of BU Libraries Search.
search help menu open

February 2019

Renew Selected Loans

In My Library Account under Loans, you can now check and renew selected items you have on loan.

Follow Cited Sources

For many article results, there are more visible arrows to find sources citing and cited in.Follow sources citing and cited by

January 2019

New Ways to Filter Results

In the Filter My Results column, you may find options for:

  • Form / Genre: find materials such as interviews, biographies, case studies, diaries, oral histories, and other primary source materials.
  • Medium of Performance: identify scores and music resources that contain specific instrumentation.
  • Record Source: limit to resources from specific vendors, databases, or publishers.
  • BU Collections: find resources within one of our music, archival, or digital collections.

October 2018

Increasing online availability with Open Access links

We’re significantly improving online availability by providing more links to open access resources. In your search results look for “Open Access available via unpaywall” links to go directly to an openly available version of the article online.

September 2018

Course Materials (Reserves) / Course Readings

Complete course reading lists are now located in a new course reserves tool (Leganto). See our Course Reserves services page for more details about this.

New Resources

Over the Summer we’ve added many new collections of resources, including: Black Abolitionist Papers, History Vault (Struggle for Women’s Rights, Organizational Records, 1880-1990; New Deal and World War II: President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Office Files and Records of Federal Agencies; FBI Confidential Files: Radical Politics in the US 1945-1972), and research datasets from Statistical Abstracts of the World and United States.

August 2018

My Library Account

Account features are now located in the top right corner next to Sign In.
For loans and requests in My Library Account, select multiple items to export as BibTex, RIS, to RefWorks, EndNote, and EasyBib.

Navigation between results

Previous and next arrows now appear in the full record view for easier navigation between results.

June 2018

Open Access Indicators and Filter

Resources that are freely available are now indicated with an Open Access icon, and can be filtered with the Open Access availability. This includes resources from OpenBU and other content providers.

Basic Search Pre-filters

Basic Search pre-filters appear as drop downs under the search box and can be used to easily limit a search to a material type or within a particular field.

Book Chapter material type facet

It’s now possible to filter to Books and Book Chapter records separately using the Material Type facet.

March 2018

Recommended resources, how to guides, and library services

We’re adding commonly requested information to the top of the search results for resources such as: library hours, maps, interlibrary loan services, research tools, search tips, tutorials, and where to go for help.
Recommended Resource - RefWorks

If you need assistance, try searching for help, how to, mugar, or tutorials.
Recommended Resource - How To

February 2018

Accessibility improvements in compliance with WCAG 2.0 AA level standards.

This includes better indications working with screen readers, color contrast, and element focus when closing dialog boxes. See a detailed list of accessibility fixes.

Better matching when searching for titles containing an “&” or an “and”

This is particularly helpful for matching journal title results.

December 2017

Ranking improvements for author name searches

Author name is given more weight in cases where a search could be for works by or about a person.

Extended session timeout

Inactive sessions will remain open for 30 minutes.

August 2017

More Articles Beyond BU

By default, search results include articles that are available online at BU. You can expand your research to a more comprehensive set of articles by using the More Articles Beyond BU scope.
More Articles Beyond BU - Basic Search
For articles with Online Access Unavailable, sign in and click through to request using our Interlibrary Loan Services.

Persistent and Multiple Filters

Include or exclude multiple filter values. Use the lock to have them persist for the duration of your session.
Multiple FiltersPersistent Filters

Personalized Results

Adjust the relevancy ranking based on your preferred discipline(s) by selecting the “Personalize” button. For best results, try combining this with the More Articles Beyond BU scope.

Search Term Expansion

The search will automatically include keyword and subject term variants when a match is found. This may improve accuracy of results through using more commonly indexed terms.
Search term expansion

Virtual Browse for related books (print and electronic)

When viewing the full result, you may see related books available in our collection.

Links to Library Location Maps

For items available in library, you’ll find a link to the library location and floor plans in the record details.

Course Reserves indicators

New filters for Course Reserves availability, and Course Readings as a material type. The course code, name, and instructor displays more prominently in results.

Audio-visual Materials

Films / videos and audio / music are now distinct material types, available for filtering and advanced searches.

Chat Assistance

Use the chat widget in the lower right to get assistance from a Librarian or view frequently asked questions.

Now running over secure https


May 2017

Search History

Go back through your search history for your session. If signed in, you can also save searches for future sessions.
Search history in BU Libraries Search

Export to BibTex

Save records in BibTex format from the Send To menu.

Browse Search

Browse of library holdings by title, author, subject, or call number.

January 2017 : a new interface for the BU Libraries Search

What’s not changing?

The search functionality remains the same. That means the results, relevancy, and ranking have not changed in this new interface.

Improved Interface for all Devices

The BU Libraries Search interface has been completely redesigned to function on all devices and screen sizes – mobile devices, tablets, and desktops. When using a smaller screen the location of some features may change — for example, the filters will move to a menu at the bottom of the screen.

Advanced Search

Custom advanced searches can now be run in the same window without having to leave the initial search page.

advanced search

Filtering Results

The ability to include and exclude filters has been made easier and more visible. Use the Availability Filters to limit to resources available online, in physical form in the library, or for peer-reviewed articles.
filter results   search filters


Searching for Course Reserves

When you begin typing into the search box an option will appear to limit your search to Course Reserves readings only.
course reserves drop down

In an Advanced Search, the same feature is available by selecting the button above the search boxes.
course reserves advanced search

My Favorites

The eShelf has been replaced by the My Favorites feature. After signing in, you can now pin results to My Favorites. Instead of being organized by folders, records can be labeled with tags. Records can also be selected and exported to reference management tools such as RefWorks and Endnote, or emailed.

my favorites

Search Alerts

When signed in, the option to Save Search will appear above your results. Selecting this enables you to save the search with all of the parameters and filters pre-selected. In addition, you can select the bell icon to set an alert for this query. Whenever new records appear that match your search you’ll receive an email update.

save search alerts

Sending Results

It’s now easier to send results to reference managers, format citations, or email results to yourself.

send results