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Composition I Research Guide for ENGL 101: Finding Books

Spring 2020

Search the Library Catalog

Search here for library books on your topic:
Search Tips:

  • Place keywords in quotation marks to search for an exact phrase.
    Example: "south carolina"
  • Boolean operators:
    • and - all terms must be found; narrows a search
      Example: television and violence
    • or - any of the terms may be found; expands a search
      Example: "mass media" or television
    • and not - excludes the terms
      Example: mexico and not "new mexico"
  • Use an asterisk (*) to search for different variations or spellings of a word.
    Example: teen* - teen, teens, teenage, teenager, teenagers, etc.

Helpful Hint

Remember the library collects a variety of books for different perspectives, including historical.

Be sure to look at the publication date of any books you use!

Generally, books within the last 5-7 years are most current. However, check with your professor if you are unsure or have questions.


Electronic books are accessed through the library catalog record. In a list of results they are identified by [electronic resource] following the title and by USC Upstate Electronic Books under location. To read an electronic book:

  • Click on the title in the results list. This opens the record for the book.
  • Click on the link under "Connect To" in the record.

Search Strategies

Boolean logic - use AND, OR, NOT (sometimes AND NOT) to connect two or more search terms:

  • AND finds all records with all of your search terms and narrows your search
  • OR finds all records with one or more of your search terms and broadens your search
  • NOT or AND NOT is used to exclude the following term and can help to focus a search where one term has different meanings or uses (e.g., Mexico NOT "New Mexico")

Truncation - the library catalog and most databases use special characters to make searching easier in certain situations. Check the help screens in the catalog or database you are using to see what the special characters are for that resource.

  • the asterisk * is often used to stand for mutliple endings on a word (singular, plural, etc.): vot*finds vote, voter, voters
  • wildcards are similar, but replace another character in a word: wom?n in the library catalog finds both woman and women