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HST 102: Europe & the World in the Modern Era: Books + More

Making the Most of Books & E-Books

  • ALWAYS browse the books near the one you are looking for. If there is one book on your topic, chances are there are more and they will all be shelved together. In our discovery catalog, look for the "Virtual Browse" at the bottom of the item record to see both physical and digital items that are "shelved" next to a particular title.
  • Briefly look through the table of contents and/or indexes for relevant material for your paper.
  • Ebooks are full-text searchable, so search for specific keywords within the text to identify the most relevant sections of the book for your research question. 
  • Read the introduction, foreword, etc. to get a feel for the book's purpose and point of view. Sometimes the introduction to a complicated topic gives you enough of a summary to help you form your own thesis or structure your own paper. 
  • Take note of appendices that may contain maps, chronologies, etc. 
  • Use the notes and/or bibliographies at the end of each chapter or the end of the book to point you to other secondary and primary sources.
  • If you're able, download the relevant chapters as PDFs so you can mark them up with notes, either digitally or by printing them out. 

Primo Search Box: Everything

Finding Books and More

Use Primo to locate materials available through ZSR Library. Search by keyword, author, title, or subject, or use the Advanced Search option to combine these features. From the search box, choose "Library Catalog" to search just books, ebooks, films, and similar materials. Choose "Everything" to include individual journal and magazine/news articles, government documents, and HathiTrust books in your search. 

Books may serve as either primary or secondary sources, depending on the content and when they were written. Books may also contain references to primary source material in the text or in the bibliography. 

You can start with a keyword search to identify relevant items. From there, look at the subject headings used to describe that item to identify other potential items (click on the subject heading to see all other items that are tagged with that subject). 


screenshot of subject headings about Troubles in Ireland

To locate potential primary sources, look for genres/subject headings that contain terms such as diaries, letters, correspondence, autobiography, interviews, or personal narratives. 

screenshot of easter rising subject headings

Some call number ranges that may be helpful: 

  • D > World History 
  • DA > British history 
  • DAW > Central Europe 
  • DD > Germany 
  • DJK > Eastern Europe 
  • HC10 - HC1085 > Economic history and conditions
  • JN101 - JN1571.5 > Politics of the United Kingdom 
  • KD - KDK > Law of Great Britain and Ireland 

If you can't find the information you need through the ZSR Library's online catalog, try searching WorldCat, which includes holdings information from other libraries. You can request these books through Interlibrary Loan if you are on campus. (Remember that it may take 1-2 weeks or more for items to arrive through Interlibrary Loan, so plan ahead!) Note that libraries are not allowed to loan ebooks through Interlibrary Loan. In cases where you are unable to access the physical book, but just need a portion of the book, you may be able to request a chapter or two be scanned and emailed to you, rather than a physical copy. You can also check for full text ebooks through resources such as the Internet Archive. Contact me using the links to the right if you have questions! 

How to identify a "scholarly" book

1. Look at the publisher. Many scholarly books are published by university presses (Oxford University Press, UNC Press, Cambridge University Press, etc.) If you don't see "university" in the publisher name, some other common scholarly presses are: Taylor and Francis, Wiley, Brill, etc. If you aren't sure, look up the name of the publisher online. 

2. Look for lists of references and/or footnotes at the end of each chapter or at the end of the book. These may indicate that the book is scholarly. 

3. Does the book have an editor or editors? This may be another indicator that the book is scholarly. 

4. Still not sure? Ask a librarian or your professor.