Tips & Tricks for Finding E-books

Now that research has moved online for the foreseeable future, we’re all looking for electronic texts.  In normal times, the GC library provides access to thousands of e-books though assorted databases.

But now, because of the COVID-19 crisis, many publishers have temporarily opened access to their e-books, dramatically expanding availability.  Though not every book has an electronic equivalent, we have had good success locating e-books so far.

Following are a few tips and tricks for finding e-books while availability is temporarily expanded:

  • Check OneSearch to see if we already have the e-book you need.  If so, log in to access the full text.
  • If we only have a print copy, click on Links, then click on This item in WorldCat to investigate further.  If there is no e-book record in WorldCat or if there is a record with just one or two holdings, that’s probably a good indication that the book is not available electronically.  But it is also worth noting that not all e-books are cataloged in WorldCat.
  • If it seems plausible that there is an e-book, look at the bibliographic details in the catalog record to find the publisher and year of publication.
  • Recently published books may be available electronically directly from the publishers.  Older titles may have been scanned as part of a retrospective scanning project and be available within an e-book database.
  • Consult our continuously updated Ebook Collections guide for the most up-to-date information on the library’s holdings.  You’ll find links to individual publishers such as Cambridge, Oxford, and Wiley for recent publications, and databases such as JSTOR, Hathi Trust, and the Internet Archive for older titles.
  • Be sure to search for e-books using the links in the Ebook Collections guide because the extra content temporarily available will not appear in OneSearch.
  • Another good source for finding e-books is the New York Public Library.  The NYPL has thousands of ebooks, including many scholarly titles.
  • You can also try a Google search to see if there is a PDF of the book online.  Sometimes, even a limited preview will enable you to access the information you need.
  • And don’t forget, you can place interlibrary loan requests for articles and book chapters.

Not having any luck?  Complete our e-book search request form. We will do our best to find an electronic copy of the book you need and contact you as soon as we have completed a thorough search.

If you’d like to learn more, join us for an online workshop, Finding E-book Access in a Shifting World, Monday April 20th from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm.

About the Author

Donna Davey is an Adjunct Reference Librarian at the Graduate Center Library.