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Finding Books

Search Summon, the library's online discovery tools or QCAT to find books, journals, videos and other materials owned by the Library.  You can search by keywords, author, title or subject headings.
To find a specific known item, search by title or author.  To find books on a topic, either try a subject or keyword search.

Subject Headings vs Keyword Searching

Subject headings allow you to search the library catalogue for resources on a particular author or topic and are often more productive than keyword searches. 
Keyword searches work best if you have muitiple concepts or topics. Think of the words that best describe your topic and then connect them with the boolean operators AND OR NOT. Use the results to find relevant titles and identify assigned subject headings for your topic in order to find similar books. 

Subject headings

Broad subject headings include:
military history
world history
Names of particular historical figures:
Churchill Winston 1874-1965
Elizabeth I Queen of England 1533-1603
Frank Anne 1929-1945
Lincoln Abraham 1809-1865
Macdonald John A (John Alexander) 1815-1891
Napoleon I Emperor of the French 1769-1821
Names of organizations:

Church Missionary Society
East India Company

Events (try keyword search first to determine the exact Subject Heading):

France History Revolution 1789-1799
September 11 Terrorist Attacks 2001
South African War 1899-1902 (try keyword “boer war” to get correct subject heading)
World War 1939-1945

For the history of a particular geographical area/country, type the name of the country, followed by history:

Canada History
France History
Ontario History

The headings for the history of countries/places will often be further subdivided, either by time frame:

Canada History 19th century
France History Louis XVI 1774 1793
Ontario history 1791-1841

And / or by sub-topic:

France History Revolution 1789-1799 Art and the revolution
United States history Civil war 1861-1865 Campaigns

There are some very broad headings used to cover entire historical epochs, such as:

History, Ancient
History, Modern
Middle Ages
Sixteenth Century

And other sub-headings for an overview of the historical period:

Europe Civilization
France Social conditions 18th century
Germany Economic conditions 1918-1945
Great Britain Colonies India
Great Britain Politics and government 1603-1714
Great Britain Social life and customs 17th century

TIP: if you find a record in QCAT for a relevant book, check the subjects assigned to it to find the headings that best match your topic.

Keyword Searching

To find books on a topic, try a keyword search if you do not know the correct subject heading for a topic. For further information on performing keyword searches, see University of Saskatchewan Library's page, Using Boolean Operators

After you made a start with keyword searching, it is usually best to continue your search using subject headings.


The Library subscribes to a number of e-book packages which can be accessed via Databases. Packages that are of interest to history students are:
Provides full-text access to major works in American, European and Middle Eastern history. Topics covered include many aspects of history plus archaeology, area studies, art, folklore, literature, music, philosophy, political science, religion, and women's studies. Records for these books should be in QCAT.
Historical reference compendium allows access to the texts of the Cambridge Histories series. Search or browse by topic. Relevant for undergraduates, graduates, lecturers and researchers.
Blackwell publishes a series of books of historiographic essays on many topics in history. They are available online through Blackwell Reference Online.
A collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world.
The Internet Archive and Open Library offers over 10,000,000 fully accessible books and texts. There is also a collection of 300,000 modern eBooks that may be borrowed or downloaded by the print-disabled at
Oxford Scholarship Online                        
offers full-text access to scholarly publishing in 20 subjects from around the world,
Provides access to about 600,000 electronic books (ebooks) Prom a wide variety of publishers.
UPSO includes titles from Oxford University Press and other partner presses.  QUL has access to selected titles, indicated by a green open lock icon on search results screens.