How do I find out what books have been published on my topic?

You have a few options when you need to search for books on your topic, and the one you choose may depend on how in-depth your research is and how much time you have.

  • To search for books held in Western New England University's libraries, use WILDPAC.
  • To search for books you can borrow from other area libraries, check Other Library Catalogs.
  • To search for books in other libraries which you can request for interlibrary loan (ILL), use WorldCat.


New! Learn how to search WILDPAC with a simple video tutorial!

WILDPAC is the online catalog for D'Amour Library and the Law Library. You can search for books, videos, journal titles (not individual articles), musical recordings, and course reserves in WILDPAC.

Find Books, Media, and Journals

To search WILDPAC, start at the D'Amour Library home page. You'll see search options displayed in the center of the page under "Find books, media, and journals."

First you'll need to choose the way to do your search. Since you know your topic, choose "Keyword" from the drop-down menu. Then, enter keywords for your topic in the search box.

Hints for entering keywords for best results:

  • Break your topic down into simple keywords. For example, if you are researching the U.S. participation in the Korean War, your keywords might be United States and Korean War.
  • If you want all your keywords to appear in each record, connect the words or phrases with AND. In this case, your search would look like this: United States AND Korean War
  • To use synonyms to expand your search results to alternative phrases or names, use OR with parentheses around the synonyms. For example: (United States OR America) AND Korean War
  • Familiarize yourself with other advanced keyword searches by reviewing the keyword search hints in WILDPAC .

Ready to try your search? Hit the go button.

Once you see your results, you may need to adjust your search a bit. Your current search is displayed in the box at the top of the page, and you can make your changes right there:


Too few results? Broaden your search (try adding synonyms with OR, or reducing the number of keywords connected with AND), and check your spelling.

Too many results? Narrow your topic by adding keywords (connected with AND), or resort your results by relevance, date, or title.

In any case, take a look at your results. Browse through the titles, and if one looks good, click on the linked title to see the record:

Sample Item Record

If you find a book that really fits your topic, click on Find Similar Items to look at the book's subjects. These terms are Library of Congress Subject Headings, or the peculiar way library catalogs describe books' main topics. Click on a subject to look at a list of other books in the catalog with the same subject.

Looking for a bit more help with this process? Try ResearchPath Module 3: Using WILDPAC, where you can read more about keyword and subject searches, and then try out some guided searches.

Once you've chosen books you'd like to look at, you need to retrieve them from the shelves. Jump over to How Do I find a book on the shelves of D'Amour Library?

If you haven't found what you're looking for, Ask a Librarian for assistance or read on for more options:

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Other Library Catalogs

Western New England University students, faculty, and staff may borrow books from many area college and public libraries. For a complete list of these libraries, direct links to their catalogs, and information about their borrowing policies, see Other Library Catalogs. You may search these catalogs online, using the same search techniques described above, to find books on your topic. If you're not able to travel to their libraries to get the books, however, you may instead wish to request books through interlibrary loan—see below.

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Search WorldCat

WorldCat is the online catalog for OCLC, a library organization, so it includes books from thousands of libraries across the U.S. and other countries. It's a great place to search for books beyond the collection of the Western New England University libraries, and a smart way to choose books to request through interlibrary loan (ILL).

To enter WorldCat, start at the D'Amour Library home page and select Databases A-Z (under "Find Articles"). WorldCat is the very last database on the list:

WorldCat database description

When you click on WorldCat, you'll be taken to an advanced search screen. Search WorldCat as you would WILDPAC, by keyword if you have a general topic, by subject if you know the LC Subject Headings, and so on (see above for more catalog searching tips).

For example, if you are searching for books on the 1918 influenza pandemic, you could search by keyword:

WorldCat search page

  • Remember to connect keywords with AND when you want both to appear in the records, and with OR if you want one or the other (for synonyms or related terms).
  • You may wish to limit your search because WorldCat is such a large catalog. You can limit the material type (e.g., books), publication date, language, and more. You may even wish to limit your search for the number of libraries (because the more libraries that have a certain book, the more likely you'll be able to obtain it).

Click the Search button.

WorldCat results page

By default, WorldCat lists the most popular books first: those books in the most libraries. There will be a note when a book comes up that you can find at Western New England University (in either D'Amour or the Law Library). These books could be found in WILDPAC.

Look through the search results to find books that appear to fit your topic; there are many clues in the citation to help you. If you see a book title that looks relevant, click on it to see more information about the book.

WorldCat: book cover, abstract, and publication information for The Monster at Our Door

In the case of Mike Davis's The Monster at Our Door, an image of the book cover and a full abstract are available. Not all books listed in WorldCat include these helpful features. Other helpful pieces of information include the Contents and Descriptors, which all book records will include:

WorldCat: contents

The contents lists the chapter titles from the book, which can be useful as you are assessing whether this book really focuses on your area of research.

WorldCat: descriptors

Descriptors (Subjects) are Library of Congress Subject Headings described above; you'll find a list of hyperlinked subjects here which describe the main focus of the book. We learn from the above example that this book is considered a "popular work," which seems to indicate that the book is intended for general readers, not necessarily academics (so depending on your reason for reading it, it may or may not be of value to you).

In addition to describing the topic of the book, the descriptors also link you to a list of other books in WorldCat with the same subjects, helpful if you need multiple sources. Other useful links for finding similar books are under Find Related:

WorldCat: related items

WorldCat: advanced search for related items

If you click on "Advanced options..." you'll find many ways to search for similar books.

Check one or more options to search; most useful may be the author (if s/he has written other books on a similar topic), subjects, and even call numbers (because books are organized by topic, other books with the same call number will be on the same topic).

Okay, so let's say that after all this, you're interested in getting your hands on a copy of The Monster at Our Door. Now what? Now you'll need to complete an interlibrary loan request—a simple form that asks D'Amour Library to borrow a copy of the book from another library for you. To submit a request, click on "Article Linker," near the top of the record:

WorldCat record; choose Article Linker

A new window will open, which will likely read, "Sorry, no holdings were found for this book," telling you that D'Amour Library doesn't have a copy of the book. Scroll down on this page, though, to find the request form for interlibrary loan:

Try Interlibrary Loan

Another window will open. You'll need to fill out your personal information, including your name, library barcode, and contact information. You'll find that some of the book information is already filled out, and you can complete the form using the citation information in WorldCat. For more help with interlibrary loan, see How Do I Borrow Books from Another Library? or Ask a Librarian.

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