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The University of Massachusetts Amherst


Library Catalog searching

Find books from the Library's homepage (

For a known title or author, use the Quick Search box on the top left of the homepage.

For a more complicated search, choose Books (library catalog), then

  • Choose the Advanced tab
  • Use the dropdown boxes to focus your search terms
  • Use Limits to restrict your search to a range of dates, type of media, or even library location

Use one book to find others

 When you find one useful book, look at the Subject(s) in its catalog record; if you see a Subject that looks good, click it to see other titles on the same subject.

Books from other libraries

  • You can get a book delivered to UMass from the other Four Colleges by clicking on Request Item at the top of the book's record.
  • WorldCat (linked under Databases) indexes books from many other libraries. If you find a title you want and we don't have it, you can borrow it through Interlibrary Loan.

"Research is formalized curiosity."

--Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)


Search terms

Try specific terms first, then try more general ones.

  • Specific terms (Northern Flicker or Colaptes auratus) give fewer but more precise results
  • General terms (like birds or woodpeckers) give more results, but are less precise

Precision gives fewer items (or none!), and you may miss books that might have a chapter on what you want to learn about.

Use both scientific and common names for organisms, connected with or, as above.

Try using truncation (forest* will find forest, forests and forestry) and variant spellings so you won't miss important titles.

See the box above for other Search Tips.