Basic search

Library Hub Discover allows you to search the records of national, academic and specialist libraries from across the UK. See our Libraries page for a list of the libraries which contribute to Discover.

The Discover homepage provides a basic keyword search. To search, enter your search terms into the 'Search' field, and then click the 'Search' button.

To see more advanced search options, click the 'More search options' link below the 'Search' field.

The keyword search will check the contents of a whole record, so you can use it to search for authors, titles, publishers and so on, as well as subject keywords.

Open Access Materials

Library Hub Discover includes records for many Open Access materials, as well as other online resources that may be accessible to you if your institution has a subscription.

To search for Open access materials you can add the term OA, or "open access" to your other search terms. eg:
  Politics & Governance OA

Where we can identify that a document is Open Access you will see the orange open access 'lock' symbol below the item details in the search result list.

On the right of the screen the list of holding libraries includes sources of Open Access materials. Eg. if the Directory of Open Access Books is listed, then selecting that will give you a holdings display with a link to the Open Access version of the document.

In the result list, if you select the title of a document this takes you to the Full record display which will often contain multiple links to an online resource. Any link that includes a library name may require a login, so unless you belong to that institution start by looking for a link that takes you directly to the document eg. to the Directory of Open Access Books, or perhaps the publisher web site.

Unexpected results?

Has your search returned too many or too few results, or are they not what you expected? Try the following:

Use the refinement options described below, or the advanced search form, to add more details about the materials you are looking for.

Check your spellings or try different spellings:

e.g. try labor instead of labour

Try American terms:

e.g. replace car with automobile or vice versa

Use broader/narrower search terms or alternatives:

e.g. replace ’German measles’ with ‘rubella’

If you have used the fuzzy search options described below, remember that a high ~n value can return records containing terms or phrases quite different from your original.

Other search tips

You can use the following options in combination with your search terms to refine your search query.


Put speech marks around your search terms if you want to search for an exact phrase:

e.g. gods of management


Use * at the end of the root of a word to search for different word endings:

e.g. photograph*

which will find records containing the words photograph, photographs, photographer, photography etc.

Discover allows the use of both the Boolean operators | [OR] and - [NOT]. The default operator is + [AND].

Use the OR operator:

|     [pipe symbol]

to return records which contain either or both of your terms:

e.g. einstein | gravity

which will search for all the records that contain EITHER einstein OR gravity or BOTH.

Use the NOT operator:

-     [dash]

to limit your results to records which DO NOT contain a term. Note that there should be no space between the - [dash] and the search term that you wish to exclude, otherwise the - [dash] will be interpreted as punctuation and ignored:

e.g. einstein -gravity

which will return records which DO contain einstein but DO NOT contain gravity.

Use parentheses (round brackets):


to construct a search using a number of different operators:

e.g. (einstein | gravity) relativity

which will return results which contain all three terms, or einstein AND relativity, or gravity AND relativity, but not einstein and gravity ONLY

Note: If you wish to exclude multiple terms each one must be indicated separately, you can't group them within parentheses. To add some exclusions to the above search:

e.g. (einstein | gravity) relativity -meeting -essays -introduction

the results will now exclude records that contain any one or more of the words 'meeting' 'essays' or 'introduction'.

Use ~n at the end of a term (where n is a number) to search for approximate matches. The value of n specifies the number of changes (in characters) which can be made to your term in order to find a match for it in a record:

e.g. photo~1

will return records which contain photos and photon but not photograph, which would require the addition of 5 characters. To return records containing photograph you would need to use photo~5 in your search.

Note that this option includes changes made anywhere within your term:

e.g. photo~1

will return records containing iPhoto and phyto as well as photos.

Use ~n at the end of a quoted phrase (where n is a number) to search for approximate matches. The value of n specifies the number of changes which can be made to your phrase in order to find a match for it in a record. This might be to add new terms:

e.g. "einstein's theory"~1

will return records containing either of the phrases "einstein's new theory" or "albert einstein's theory". It can also include changes of position to the existing terms in your phrase:

e.g. "theory of relativity"~4

will return records containing "relativity of theory". The sequence of changes necessary can be visualised as follows:

Position 1 Position 2 Position 3
Original phrase theory of relativity
Change 1 theory of | relativity
Change 2 theory | relativity of
Change 3 relativity of | theory
Change 4 relativity of theory

Searching in specified fields

You can use the keyword search box to search for terms in specific fields by adding the following prefixes to your search terms:

  • title:
  • author:
  • publisher:
  • subject:
  • keyword:
  • date:
  • isbn:
  • issn:
  • held-by:

Your search will return results containing all of the words following the prefix in the specified field up to the end of the query, or until another operator is found:

e.g. title: complete novels illustrated austen

will return records containing all of those terms in the title field, but:

e.g. title: complete novels illustrated author: austen

will return records with complete, novels and illustrated in the title field, and austen in the author field.

You can use this option in combination with other operators if you wish:

e.g. title: "pride and prejudice"

will return records containing the exact phrase "pride and prejudice" in the title field.

Including a space after the prefix is optional:

e.g. title:pride and prejudice

will be treated the same as:

e.g. title: pride and prejudice

If you are using the date: prefix, you can either supply a single year:

e.g. title: pride and prejudice date: 1813

or a range:

e.g. author: austen date: 1811-1818

1811- on its own will search for all years after (but including) 1811. -1818 on its own will search for all dates up to (and including) 1818.

Note: you cannot use the operators | [OR] and - [NOT] with the date prefix.

You can search for standard numbers using the prefixes isbn: and issn:, followed by a number. You can also enter multiple standard numbers after the prefix, each separated by a space, in order to search for multiple items at once:

e.g. isbn: 075090206X 0006724825 9780007491544

which will return records containing any of these ISBNs.

A standard number search will look for all ISBNs or ISSNs in the query, until it reaches a term it does not recognise as such, when it will revert to a keyword search:

e.g. isbn: 9780753722725 0951103520 austen

will return records containing either the number 9780753722725 or the number 0951103520 in the ISBN field and the keyword austen anywhere in the same record.

Sometimes ISBNs include extra characters or information (e.g. 0333374282 (pbk)) - you should not include these in your search:

e.g. isbn: 0333374282

will find records with '0333374282 (pbk)' in the ISBN field.

The held-by: prefix can be used to limit your search to the holdings of a specific library or libraries, and must be used in conjunction with the unique Discover library code for the relevant library (usually three letters). You can add multiple codes, separated by a space, after the prefix, in order to search the holdings of several libraries at once:

e.g. held-by: abn ban cmu

which will return records for items held by either the University of Aberdeen, or Bangor University, or Cardiff Metropolitan University, or some combination of these.

A held-by search will include all library codes in the query, until it reaches a term it does not recognise as such, when it will revert to a keyword search:

e.g. held-by: abn ban austen

will return all records from either the University of Aberdeen, or Bangor University, which also include the keyword austen anywhere in the record

The codes for all of the libraries currently contributing to Library Hub Discover can be found on our Libraries page.

Non-Roman scripts:

You can search using scripts such as Arabic, but older records may not include original script text,
eg: Title: كتاب اختلاف أصول المذاهب

Older materials, as well as recent ones, will include transliterated text. Transliteration variations can be a problem, so try variant spellings,
eg. try searches for Dubrovsky vs Dubrovskii