Assignment 2 - Finding Books

Books are found using LibCat, the Library Catalog, which is a database that includes information about the print books and ebooks in the library's collections. (LibCat also shows the CDs and DVDs we have.)

On this page:

Choose Your Campus

To search LibCat you must choose your campus: Mookini Library serves UH Hilo and both Hawaiʻi Community College campuses [East Hawaiʻi (Manono) and West Hawaiʻi (Pālamanui)].

There are two ways to search for books in LibCat:

  • LibCat: Items in Mookini Library in Hilo or Pālamanui Library in Kona.
  • Print Books: Physical books in the UH system, including Mookini Library and Pālamanui Library. You can request books from other UH libraries be sent to the UH library closest to you (although not all books can be sent).

A more detailed overview of LibCat is available - it is not required for completing these assignments.

Searching Tips

Unlike Google, library databases work best with keywords, not sentences, so instead of “How does nutrition impact a person’s health and weight?” use just the big idea words nutrition health weight in the search box.

  • Be aware of how the database is sorting the results - some sort by the newest, others by "relevance," which is defined differently by each database.
  • Phrase searching will keep two or more words together to create a concept:
    • “quantum theory”
    • “multiple personality”
    • “marine biology”
  • Do you need peer-reviewed sources? Many databases let you limit your search to retrieve only peer-reviewed articles.

Too many results? How to limit or narrow your search:

  • Does the database allow you to limit your search terms to only the title field to retrieve more relevant results?
  • Does the database allow you to limit your results to a certain geographic area?
  • Does the database have a standardized list of subject headings that are used to tag all books or articles that are on the same subject?
  • In JSTOR, if you are getting too many “Review [untitled]” results, you can use the Advanced Search to specify retrieval of only articles rather than those book reviews.

Too few results? How to expand or broaden your search:

  • Does the database have a standardized list of subject headings that are used to tag all books or articles that are on the same subject? This may show you alternate search terms to try.
  • Try synonyms - woman, women, feminine, female
  • Truncation is used to find variations of a word ending:
    • Hawai* {note only one i} will find Hawaii, Hawaiʻi, Hawaii's, Hawaiʻi's, Hawaiian, Hawaiians, Hawaiiana
    • navigat* will find navigate, navigating, navigation, navigators
  • Wildcards allow you to find variations within a word:
    • wom?n will find woman and women
    • organi?ation will find organization and organisation
Warning
Different databases use different symbols! You must check the Help area of each database to know what to use. For example, some use a ? for truncation and % for wildcard, while EBSCOhost uses a * for truncation and ? for wildcard.

Boolean Logic allows you to craft a more effective, efficient search to find books or articles on your topic faster. See our Advanced Search page to find out how Boolean logic operators AND, OR, and NOT can greatly improve your searching.

Example LibCat Searches

LibCat Search

LibCat works slightly differently for each campus.

  • UH Hilo: The default LibCat search finds print books, ebooks, CDs, and DVDs available in the Mookini Library that you can access right away, provided they aren't already checked out.
  • East Hawaiʻi (Manono) Community College: The default LibCat search finds print books, CDs, and DVDs that are in the Mookini Library, but does not find ebooks.

results page for default LibCat search for hula

It's always a good idea to look at the way a database has presented the information to you before you start looking at the results:

  • How is the list organized: newest items at the top or most relevant, i.e. Google style?
  • In what ways can you further narrow the results? These are called limiters and can include type of material (book, DVD), publication dates, geographical area, and language.

When you find a title you want, select it to see the full record.

  • You'll need to note both the collection (e.g., General, Hawaiian, READ) and the call number (e.g., GV 1796.H8 H67 in the example shown) to find a book on the shelf. Think of the collection as the town and the call number as the street address.
  • Library floor maps indicate where the different collections are in Mookini Library.
  • If an area isn't open (e.g., Hawaiian Collection), take the title, collection, and call number to the Circulation Desk so library staff can retrieve items for you.

part of item record showing collection and call number

Physical Items Search

The Physical Items LibCat search is for print books that are available both in your local UH library and also within the larger UH system of libraries. This is the default LibCat search for East Hawaiʻi (Manono) Community College students.

Some items from other libraries can be requested and sent to the UH library nearest you.

The default LibCat search returned 361 results; the Physical Items Search shows 2,279 results. Select the title to see how to request (you'll need to login with your UH username and password).

LibCat Physical Items results list for hula search

Ebook Collections

While UH Hilo LibCat does have item records for ebooks showing title, author, summary, etc., you must go into the ebook collection database to read the book and search inside it: this is an awesome feature! In the example below, select "Ebook Central Academic Complete" to access the book.

LibCat item record for ebook version of Voices of Fire Reweaving the Literary Lei of Pele and Hiʻiaka showing link to Ebook Central Academi Complete

You can also go directly into an online book database (UH Hilo / Hawaiʻi Community College) and search for a topic just like you did in LibCat, but you will get more results since you will be searching within the text of the books, not just the LibCat item record data. 1

Ebook Central hula search showing 2035 book results

To go directly into ebook databases, select your campus link from the library's homepage, then select the Ebooks link from your campus access page. You will search an ebook database for this assignment.

Other advantages of e-books:

  • You can view an online book from any computer with internet access and might be able to download it to your laptop or mobile device.
  • More than one person can be viewing the same online book at the same time.
  • Some online book collections have special features such as highlighting and note-taking, so take a moment to check out all the options.

Did You Notice?

The LibCat Physical Items search had 2,279 results, so why did the Ebook Central search only have 2,035? Didn’t we just note “you will get more results since you will be searching within the text of the books, not just the LibCat item record data”? Do you understand why?2

To Do - Assignment Instructions

You'll need to have the link below open in one tab / window and LibCat open in another. If you are logged into another email account in the same browser, you may need to log out of that account or use a different browser for your UH login.

English 102 - Danielle Carpenter


  1. Item records in LibCat do not include the full text of books. The record only contains information such as title, author, publisher, publication date, subject headings, table of contents. ↩︎

  2. Although we have been focused on using LibCat to search for books, the Physical Items search looks for more than printed books. If you do the search and look at the "Resource type" limiter you'll see that LibCat returned only 482 book results. ↩︎