Library Search Tips and Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to your questions about how to search library materials and learn about strategies to improve your searches. To ask us a question, please email or on the main Davis campus, if you are at UC Davis Health, or use these additional contact options to ask for help.

 Also see our UC Library Search: User Guide.

How do I search for books or articles in UC Library Search?

Start from UC Library Search or the UC Davis Library homepage with Articles, Books, Media, etc. selected. Then, follow the step-by-step instructions in the UC Library Search User Guide to find and request a book or article.

Search box to Search Library Materials

What am I searching when I use the search box for Articles, Books, Media, etc.?

Articles, Books, Media, etc. searches materials found in UC Library Search, the UC’s systemwide online library catalog, including books and ebooks, journals, maps, government documents, films, musical scores, manuscripts and photos, plus citations and full-text articles from 200+ databases. It is a helpful starting point for cross-disciplinary searching.

Search Tips:

  • Use AND, OR, NOT (uppercase) to combine search concepts
    Shakespeare AND sonnets
    College OR university
    Programming languages NOT javascript
  • Use the wildcard operators ? and * to search for word variations
    Wom?n (searches for woman and women)
    Librar* (searches for library, libraries, librarian, librarians)
  • Use quotation marks to search for phrases
    “animal welfare”
    “plant ecology”

There are too many results when I use the Articles, Books, Media, etc. box. How do I limit my search?

Once you have started your search, the left navigation bar in UC Library Search provides many useful filters. You can also Sort by author, subject, and date. Ask a Librarian about how to develop a useful search.

filters in left sidebar of UC Library Search

How do I limit my search to items in Special Collections or at a particular UC Davis campus library location?

Go to Advanced Search.

The Advanced Search link is located to the right of the Search box in UC Library SearchUnder Search, select the Local Catalog button. Then use the Search Profile dropdown menu to select Special Collections or your desired library location to limit your search results.

Click the button to search the Local Catalog. Then use the Search Profile dropdown menu to choose your library location or Special Collections.

Is there a Browse search option? 

To navigate to Browse searching, select Browse from the top navigation bar/menu in UC Library Search. You may need to click the … icon on the right to display all menu options, including Browse.

How do I browse journals by name? Where did the Journals A-Z list go?

In UC Library Search, click Journal Search in the top navigation bar/menu. If you are on the UC Davis Library’s homepage, click the Journals A-Z link just below the blue Search button.

How do I search by Call Number?

To search by call number, use the Browse feature in the top navigation bar/menu of UC Library Search. Once you open up the browse feature, select which call number scheme you are using. Library of Congress (LC) call numbers will be used for those items stored at Shields Library. National Library of Medicine (NLM) call numbers are used at Blaisdell Medical Library and Carlson Health Sciences Library.

See the Call Number section for more helpful information such as how to read a call number or locate an item in the library by call number.

How do I search by standard number (ISSN or ISBN)?

When searching by ISBN (books) remove the hyphens and spaces

  • ISBN Example: ISBN 978-0520254718 = 9780520254718

When searching by ISSN keep the hyphens

  • ISSN Example:  0036-8075

Searching by ISBN:  Using Advanced Search, select ISBN from the Any field dropdown menu; then enter the number without hyphens or spaces.

This search can also be performed in the search box on the library’s homepage. Enter the ISBN into the search box (remember to remove hyphens and spaces), check the Library Catalog box, and hit search. If you forget to check the Library Catalog box you will receive the record for the book, along with records of book reviews.

Searching by ISSN: Using Advanced Search, select ISSN from the Any field dropdown menu; then enter the number.

It is not recommended to search by ISSN in the search box on the library’s homepage because you will retrieve numerous results that include the record you want along with records of articles. In this situation, you may scroll through the list to find the correct record.

Can I export results from my search to a citation manager?

Yes. Click on the title or the … icon for the item you want to export. Then choose your citation manager from the options that appear below the item.

EndNote users:  Choose EndNote if using EndNote Basic (Web). Choose Export RIS if you use EndNote Desktop (Client).

Buttons to Save a search result to EndNote in UC Library Search

See also:

EndNote: Directions for Export from Databases (Windows)

EndNote: Directions for Export from Databases (Macintosh)

Why am I being asked to sign in?

Signing in enables you to see all request options, view loan periods for items, recall items that are checked out, track the progress of items you have requested, and save records and searches across sessions. You do not need to sign in to UC Library Search to simply search the catalog.

If you are off-campus, you must sign into the library’s VPN to access licensed online content. Some sites also now allow you to access content by signing in with your UC Davis login.

How do I access library databases, journal articles and ebooks from off campus?

If you are a UC Davis student, faculty member, clinician or staff, learn how to connect from offsite using the library VPN. Some sites also now allow you to access content by signing in with your UC Davis login.

How do I request items from Archives and Special Collections? 

To begin the request process, you will need to sign up for an Aeon account (learn how to use Aeon). Once you have identified items in UC Library Search, you can request materials via the Get It feature in the record. Click on the Special Collections link and you will be prompted to the Aeon Account log-in page.  You can find more specific information on requesting materials from Archives and Special Collections here.


How do I track the progress of an item I have requested?

Login into your library account. To do so, you can click “My Account” in the top-right corner of this website and then login with your UC Davis credentials and authenticate in Duo.

Or, from UC Library Search (the library’s online catalog), click “Sign In” in the top-right corner, login with your UC Davis credentials and authenticate in Duo.

Then, select “My Requests” in the dropdown menu under your own name that will appear in the upper-right corner.

How do I get or renew my library card?

Student library accounts are automatically active and renew quarterly with current registration. Faculty and staff may activate their accounts at the library or online. Users unaffiliated with UC Davis may apply for library privileges at the library. For more information regarding types of accounts, privileges, and proxy accounts, please see Library Account Types and Descriptions.

More information about accessing library resources can be found on our Services page.

For information about services available for UC Davis faculty, staff, and graduate students who are working at sites outside the Davis/Sacramento area can be found on the Services for Users at Remote Sites.

What is a call number?

A call number represents an item’s physical location in the library. Think of it as the item’s address.

Example: LD781.D3 S34 2001 

How do I read a call number?

See our handout for a brief explanation. More details about the Library of Congress Classification, the National Library of Medicine Classification and the Superintendent of Documents Classification are available.

How do I use a call number to find an item in the library?

Refer to a library map:

Shields Library
Carlson Health Sciences Library
Blaisdell Medical Library