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Research Foundations: Viewing eBooks

What are eBooks?

When searching the library catalog, you are likely to find items denoted as eBooks.

An ebook is a book that exists in a digital, electronic form. You can find ebooks on computers, tablets, and dedicated ereaders (like Kindle and Nook). Some ebooks are replicas of printed books, while others are only available electronically.

The library's ebooks work on any device that supports PDF formats and graphics. While downloading is possible for some titles, most work best when read through a web browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, etc.). Like printed books, many students do not read the entire ebook for their research, only the relevant parts.

The library uses many different vendors to access ebooks including EBSCO, Gale, Springer, ebrary, and Credo Reference. Because of the variety of vendors, each ebook interface varies. While this can be confusing, the good news is that most ebooks function in the same way. For example, like printed books, most ebooks have a table of contents and index you can use to navigate to the important sections for your research.

View an eBook Online

To view an ebook, you must log into the library using your borrower ID and PIN. Then, click the View Online link to open it in your browser. It's that easy!

example ebook in the library catalog

Some ebooks allow multiple people to read the book at the same time; other books allow only one reader at a time. If you open a book and it is in use, check back at a later time or date. Some ebooks allow you to even "check out", or download, the book for a period of time. Once that time is expired, the book will automatically return.

Search Feature and Hyperlinks in eBooks

magnifying glass icon used to denote a search box

example of an ebook search box

As mentioned before, ebook interfaces will vary depending on the vendor providing the book. Most allow you to search the entirety of the text. A magnifying glass usually signifies the search feature in ebooks. If the ebook does not have a magnifying glass icon, you can also look for phrases like "search in this publication" or "search in this book." In PDF ebooks, you can also use the shortcut of Ctrl+F (Windows) or Command+F (Mac) to open the search box.

hyperlinked table of contents in an ebook

example ebook table of contents

The search box allows you to type in a keyword, short phrase, place, or person’s name to determine if that ebook addresses your topic. Like finding a word in the index, the frequency and number of consecutive pages of the word or phrase will indicate how much coverage this ebook has of your topic. Searching the entire text is a very effective way to pinpoint those sections relevant to your research.

Many ebook table of contents are hyperlinked for easy navigation. As you have learned about print books, you are not likely to read an entire book for your project. Remember, using the table of contents allows for quick browsing to identify sections relevant to your topic. Simply clicking a chapter's link will send you directly to the first page of that section.

Emailing and Printing eBooks

example ebook email icon

Once you have found useful information in an ebook, most vendors allow you to email single pages or entire chapters to yourself. Many ebooks will also email you sample citations along with the text. This permits you to view the content outside of the library catalog or database. It is also an efficient method of extracting small sections from a larger book.

Most ebooks allow you to print portions of the text. The amounts you can print from each book depend on the ebook vendor and individual book, but most permit both single pages and entire chapters.