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Search Help: Home

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!

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 and education, and these will be sorted as follows: results with the terms in a phrase will appear first, followed by results that have both terms (not in a phrase) and finally, results that have one of the terms.

Quotes only works with COMPLETE WORDS, be careful when cutting and pasting phrases into quotes.
“teacher education in Cana” will not retrieve “teacher education in Canada”
“teacher education in Canada” will retrieve the item sought

More Search Tips and Tricks

Connecting your search terms.

Note that the results of different searches aren't necessarily comparable.

By default, all terms in a search are combined as a phrase first amd then combined with the AND operator.

health children

will find results that contain the phrase "health children" first, followed by 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.

Note that the results of different searches aren't necessarily comparable.

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:

Available in the Library focuses your search results on books and videos available in the library at Seneca Libraries.

Peer-Reviewed Journals 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 with Virtual Browse.

Items in the library provide the option to browse up to 100 items located near the specific item on a virtual shelf. The system uses the call number index to create the virtual browse list.

Search by field.

If you want to find specific information sources, you can try searching specific fields such as title, author and subject in the Advanced Search option.

Library Search supports all leading browsers:

  • Internet Explorer
  • Firefox
  • Safari
  • Chrome

The responsive design supports mobile browsing: Mobile compatibility is tested on devices with iOS and Android.

JavaScript and SSL 3.0 are required to use library search.