Library Search Help

What is Seneca's library search?

It looks like a Google search but instead of websites it searches academic resources.

The library search includes only information from published resources such as books, articles from scholarly journals, newspapers, popular magazines, statistics, literature reviews, biographies and encyclopedic articles. For the majority of your research assignments this is the type of information that you need.

To find out which resources are included you can view our list of resources that are not covered by the library search. Also, on the "All Databases" page the "Slib" icon icon shows you which of our resources can be searched by our library search.

Can’t find what you’re looking for? No problem. We have some tips and tricks to help you find the best information in our library search. And don’t forget that most of these tricks can be used in a Google search too!

Not in the mood to read? Check out these short videos:

1. Start with a simple search.

Type in the topic, person or place that you need information on. For example,

administering medication
health children
bridge construction

2. Add more search terms.

If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, add more descriptive terms.

Start with: children
More precise: children education
Even more precise: children education toronto

3. Use words from your discipline.

Try searching for information using specific terms that are unique to your discipline (for instance, keywords found in your textbook).

Not ideal: problems with the heart
Better: heart disease
Even better: cardiomyopathy

4. Use only important words or concepts rather than an entire sentence.

Not ideal: what are the violent video games that children play?

Better: violence video games children

5. Phrase searching.

The library search allows for phrase searching with the use of quotes (“).

“teacher education”

will find results with that phrase.

teacher education

will find results with the word teacher or education or both.

More Search Tips and Tricks

Search by field.

If you want to find specific information sources, you can try searching specific fields such as title, author, subject terms, abstract or ISBN. All you need to do is enter your search in the following format but change the field and search term. For example:

title:(business management)

subjectterms:(early childhood education)

author:(margaret atwood)

Connecting your search terms.

By default, all terms in a search are combined with the AND operator.

health children

will find results that discuss health and children in the same item.

If you prefer, you can put AND between the search terms as long as you type it in all caps:

health AND children

To get more results, you can use the OR operator.

microcircuits OR nanocircuits

will return items that contain either term. Don’t forget to capitalize OR. You may also try

"teacher education” OR “educator training”

To exclude items, use the NOT operator.

animal NOT dog

will find results that do not include the word dog.


The question mark (?) will match any one character. For example:


will find results for “Olsen” or “Olson”.

The asterisk (*) will match zero or more characters within a word or at the end of a word. For example:


will find results for “Charter”, “Character”, and “Chapter”.

When used at the end of a word, such as


it will match all suffixes “Temptation”, “Temple” and “Temporary”.

Wildcards cannot be used as the first character of a search.

Narrowing your Search Results.

The left sidebar on the results page offers plenty of options to shorten your results list so it is more specific to your search needs. For example:

Library Catalogue Only focuses your search results on books, videos and magazines available in the library and online at Seneca Libraries.

Scholarly, including peer-reviewed will narrow your search results to articles from publications that are peer-reviewed or just considered scholarly. Please note that this may include non-scholarly types of content such as editorials and book reviews from a scholarly publication.

Peer-Reviewed will narrow your search results to articles from publications that are peer-reviewed (which by default are scholarly). Please note that this may include not peer-reviewed types of content such as editorials and book reviews from a peer-reviewed publication.

You can select multiple options to narrow your original search results. For example, search for scholarly articles published within the last year on education in Ontario.

Exploring a Topic.

The right sidebar on the results page provides a new way to find out more on a topic or item. This can help you guide your research and determine whether you are on the right track. If your search is on a broad subject, the topic explorer returns a definition of the subject term from Encyclopedia Britannica and suggests additional related topics that may be of interest to you.

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