Make it easy with eBooks

eBook penguin

Electronic books – or eBooks – are an online version of the print books that you’ll find on the shelves in the libraries. You can read them by going to the Library Gateway and using Library Search; type in the topic that you’re interested in, the title of the book if you know it, the author’s name, or any combination of these.

On the search results page, use the filters to narrow down the results to eBooks. First, click on Available Online at the top of the page and then click on Books/eBooks under Refine My Results.

Available Online

Click on Books / eBooks filter

This will update the list of search results and show any eBooks that are relevant to your search. If you find an eBook that looks useful and want to read it, click on Find Online underneath the book details and then on the view full text link.

Click on Find Online and then on view full text

For some eBooks, it’ll have the name of the supplier (e.g. MyiLibrary or ScienceDirect) instead.  Either way, click on the link and a new window will open, giving you options to read the eBook online or download it.

It’s better to read online instead of downloading. You can do more things, including:

  • Search for a key word that you’re interested in and you’ll get a list of places where that word appears in the book.
  • Click on chapter titles and be taken straight to the page where that chapter begins.
  • Make notes on particular pages – not allowed in print books!
  • Zoom in to view the text in a bigger size if you’re struggling to read it.
Top tip!

If you’re viewing an eBook online and it keeps logging you out (which can happen occasionally), do download a copy to read instead.

Have a look at: eBooks help page

Filter your results in Library Search

Photo of many smarties

Photo credit: ‘Smarties’ by eismannhans via Pixabay (Public domain)

When you’re using Library Search to look for things to read, make sure you use the filters on the search results page.  If you don’t, you’ll be scrolling through pages and pages to find what you’re looking for.  Here’s a quick explanation of how some of the most popular filters work.

Across the top

Screenshot of filters across the top of the search results page

  • Peer reviewed journals – this will display only the highest quality publications, which have been approved by experts in the subject.
  • Available Online – useful if you want to see what’s available without coming into the library. This will show just electronic resources in your results list.
  • Available in the Library – shows you physical books on the shelves right now in Adsetts and Collegiate Libraries. This is useful if you’re in the library and want to know what you can borrow here and now, straight away. Clicking this filter will hide all the useful books that are on loan at the moment though, which is a shame because you might want to request some of them to read in future.

Down the side

  • Content type – this is where you pick the format of what you’re searching for.  If your lecturer asks you to find a journal article on a particular topic, this is where you can click to show just ‘Articles’ in the list of results.
  • Publication date – if there are several editions of the same book, it’s best to get the newest one. Use the slider to show search results that were published at a particular time, such as from 2013 onwards. If you want to read the most recent literature on a topic, you can use this filter to hide all of the older material.
  • Subject terms – for every search you do, you’ll get a list of sub-topics and related topics. This can be really useful to help you decide what to search for next. It’s a bit like the ‘Customers who bought that also bought this…’ feature found on a lot of shopping websites.
  • Library location – we’ve got two libraries and you can use this to select the one you want to use. For example, if you’ve got lectures at City Campus, you might want to go to Adsetts Library. Use this filter with caution though: if you click on ‘Adsetts Library’ and all copies of a book that you need are kept at Collegiate, you won’t see any of them in your results.
  • Language – it’s a way of choosing which languages you want to appear in your search results. If you speak a language other than English, you can choose it and see resources related to your search words in that language. If you want to hide publications that aren’t in English, you can do that as well; just click ‘English’.

When you click on ‘More options’
If there are lots of options for a particular filter, only the most popular will show up on the Library Search results page.  Click on ‘More options’ underneath that filter to see them all then click on the ‘Include’ tick box next to each option to show those results.

Screenshot of Content Type More Options

After applying one or two filters, you should have a much more manageable number of search results to look through.  Hopefully, they should be more relevant, too.

Photo of a few smarties

Photo credit: ‘Smarties Grundfarben’ by Anna reg via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0 AT)

Happy searching and, if you’re not sure about something, click on the ‘Contact us’ link at the top of the Library Gateway to see all the various ways you can get in touch.

Go through the Library Gateway

Library Gateway

There’s no denying that you can find loads with a Google search: millions of webpages, documents, and all sorts of other things. If you’re looking for a journal article though, it’s much better to go through the Library Gateway.

Why not Google?

Going through Google, you’ll probably find the details of the journal article you need, but struggle to get access to the full text. The journal website won’t have any way of knowing that you’re a Sheffield Hallam student, so you won’t benefit from the University’s subscriptions.

Library Search and databases

Log in to shuspace and click on the link to the Library Gateway.

lslogoMost of the journal articles you’ll need for your course can be accessed through Library Search. You should be able to get the full text of articles.

Sometimes, you lecturer might suggest a specific journals database, e.g. CINAHL. Databases are often focused on particular subjects, so your searches can be more precise. Go to your subject guide and have a look on the Journals page to find the database you need. If you can’t see it there, try the A-Z list of databases instead.

Tip: if you’re in a database and can’t get to the full text of an article, log in to shuspace and try again. If you still can’t get access, contact us.

You may also be interested in: Finding a journal article using Library Search (YouTube video)

What you can get help with and where…

There are a variety of ways you can get help whether you’re at home, on placement, live outside Sheffield, or even upstairs in the library!

What… can you ask us about?

  • borrowing from libraries and your borrower accounts
  • logging in and using SHU IT systems
  • using Microsoft Office software
  • printing, copying and scanning
  • finding and using materials for your assignments
  • referencing
  • using library services and facilities eg booking PCs and group spaces
  • referrals to other and specialist services

Where… you can go to get help!

  • chat – useful at home, on placement, if you live at a distance, or even in the library

Chat for library support (including supporting users of IT systems and equipment in libraries) 24/7/365 – with our staff during daylight hours and university library colleagues in the US overnight

Chat for IT support 9am – 5pm Mon – Fri

  • Helpdesks



If you’re in Adsetts or Collegiate, check out the library Helpdesk – opening hours on shuspace.


simon help point


There are also IT Help Points located in Harmer and the Atrium at Heart of the Campus – opening hours are 8.45am-4.45pm (from 10am Weds).


Don’t get stuck – ask us!

3 ways to get more search results


Image credit: ‘Detective’ by olarte.ollie via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Library Search on the Library Gateway is a great place to look for reading material when you’re working on an assignment or revising for an exam, but sometimes it can feel like you aren’t getting the right results.  What do you do then?  Try these 3 things…

  1. Remove some filters – have you used loads of filters?  ‘Full text online’, ‘Content type’, ‘Publication date’ and others are great for specifying exactly the sort of resource you want.  If you use several of them at once though, it can narrow down the number of results until you’ve got hardly any left.  Think about using fewer filters to get more results, and hopefully more useful results.
  2. Use other keywords – if the search terms you’ve typed into Library Search aren’t getting you the results you need, try some alternatives.  For example, if you’ve done a search for ‘NHS’, what about ‘National Health Service’?  Remember that Library Search works by looking for words and phrases in the titles and descriptions of books, articles and other things, so you need to search for different terms that the author could have used.
  3. Look in databases – Library Search is the best place to start, but the library’s journals databases have extra resources for some topics.  To get an idea of which databases are the most useful for your subject, have a look at the Journals page of your subject guide.

Still stuck?  Go to the library Helpdesk or get in touch and we’ll see what we can do.

Get reference details using Library Search


When you’re putting together the reference list for an assignment, don’t worry if you didn’t write down all the details of the books, articles and other things that you read. You can use Library Search to get all the details you need.  Let’s say, for example, you used a book with the title ‘Information technology project management’ but don’t remember any of the other details.  Type the title into Library Search and you’ll get a list of results.

Search results

There will be lots of results at first, so use the filters on the left-hand side to narrow them down.  Click on the ‘Books / eBooks’ filter to show just books.  Now, do any of the books look familiar?  Most of them will include a small image of the front cover, which can be really helpful for jogging your memory.

When you’ve found the book that you used, click on the Details link underneath the title and you’ll see all the information that you need to write the reference.

Details link highlighted

Not sure how to structure a reference?  Have a look at our Guide to Harvard referencing and citations for help with citations and reference lists, and also lots of examples.

You may also be interested in: Microsoft Word referencing tool

Find the full text every time


If you’re looking for a electronic journal article, you can find it by heading to the Library Gateway and typing keywords into Library Search.  The title and author’s name are a good way to start, or you can type in a topic area.

FTL travel

Then, click on the ‘Full Text Online’ filter at the top of the search results…

Full Text Online filter highlighted

…and on the ‘Articles’ filter on the left-hand side.

Once you’ve scrolled down the list and found an article you want, the next thing you need to do is get to the full text.  Click on ‘Find online’ underneath the title.

Click Find online highlighted

Some articles will take you straight to the full text, there and then.  With others, you have to do a little more work.  If there are several different sources for the article, you’ll get a list and you need to click on one of the links, it doesn’t matter which.

View online at

Other articles are a bit more tricky and we have to do a bit more exploring to find the full text.  You might click on the link and find that you get taken to the journal homepage rather than the article.  If that happens, don’t give up!  Sometimes, there’ll be a search box on the journal homepage; type in the title of the article you need and you’ll soon have the full text.  If there’s no search box, make a note of the volume and issue number and browse through the journal until you find what you’re looking for.

Volume and issue numbers

In case you wondered, these are the volume and issue numbers.  The first one is the volume number (and the one in brackets is the issue number).

If you get stuck and can’t find the full text, come to the library Helpdesk or get in touch with us by email or chat and we’ll investigate.

You may also be interested in: Finding a journal article using Library Search (YouTube video)

Dive into databases – see the A-Z list

Journals databases are collections of journal articles, often on a particular subject but sometimes across a wider area. Library Search will find you most of the library resources you need for your assignments, but databases can sometimes offer access to even more articles. If one of your lecturers recommends a database, the first thing you’ll need to do is find it. Here’s the easiest way.

1. Go to the Library Gateway. Most people follow the link at the top of shuspace.

Library Gateway link

2. On the Gateway front page, click on the A-Z list of databases link.

A-Z list link

3. You’ll see a long list of databases – over 330 at last count – so it’s a good idea to search for the one you want rather than scrolling down the list. Type the title (or as much of the title as you know) into the search box, then click ‘Go’.

A-Z search box

4. The database your lecturer mentioned should appear in the search results. Click on the relevant link and you’ll be taken to the database’s front page, where you can search for articles on the topics it covers.

If you can’t see the database you want in the A-Z list, the best thing to do is contact the Library and we’ll help you track it down.

You may also be interested in: Finding journal articles using Library Search

Use the date filter in Library Search

When you’re reading for an assignment, it’s a good idea to look for the most up-to-date library resources on the topic.  Older books, journal articles and other things will still be useful sometimes.  For example, if you study History and you’re researching an idea that first became popular in the 1960s, it’s likely that you’ll need to read something from that decade.  Mostly though, it’s best to search for recent publications and Library Search has a built-in date filter to make it easy for you to do this.

When you’ve done a search and you’re on the results page, look down the left-hand side of the page and you’ll see this filter.

Date filter

Choose the date range you want in one of two ways: either drag the slider to show the start and end date, or type the dates into the From and To boxes above.  Finally, click on the Apply button and your list of results will change to show only things in your date range.

Find images and use them legally

When you need a photo to use in a presentation, do you go to Google and do a few searches until you find one you like?  That’s fine, but a lot of the images you’ll find are owned by people and organisations who haven’t given their permission for them to be used.  Sometimes it’ll say ‘All rights reserved’, other times there might be a different label or none at all.  Here’s how to search for images that you’re actually allowed to use.

Go to Google and search for the topic you’re interested in.  Let’s use ‘sunflowers’ as an example.Google sunflowers

On the search results page, go to the little cog button on the right-hand side and choose ‘Advanced search’ from the drop-down list.

Advanced search

On the Advanced Search screen, go to the ‘usage rights’ drop-down list and choose ‘free to use or share’, then click on the blue Advanced Search button.

usage rights

Finally, go to the ‘Images’ tab at the top of the search results page to show just images, and the images you’ll see are those you can use in your work.  Winning!


Here’s one we liked…

Sunflowers photo

Photo credit: ‘Sunflowers IMG 4309’ by Biso via Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-3.0)

Remember though, you still need to attribute the images properly.  This means adding a note like the one above each time you use an image, giving its title, the name of the person or organisation who created it, and information about where you found it.  For more information about image attribution, see the Video, images and audio guide.