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Information literacy - European Languages and Cultures: I want to find a book


During your study you will have to get your information largely from books. In the chapter 'Types of literature' you have become familiar with various types of books. The University Library of Groningen owns around 3.5 million items, mostly books and e-books. Only part of this collection is placed on the open shelves in the UL City Center, the UL Zernike, the Social Sciences Library and the Central Medical Library reading rooms.  Around three thirds of all books are held in the closed stacks.


Most of these books are for loan, but because there are so many it is impossible to browse the shelves until you find the one you need. That is why you have to use the library catalogue to find the books that are relevant to your research question.


A library catalogue lists and describes all the sources (books, journals, etc.) in a certain collection or library, and also gives information on their availability and location.


In a catalogue you can search not only by title or author but also by subject, publication year, type of material, etc.


Catalogues do not contain all the literature that has been written on a subject, only the literature that is held in the library in question.


Students and staff of the University of Groningen have currently access to over 450.000 e-books through the University Library. These can all be found in SmartCat. By clicking on the View online button you go to the e-book's content.

view online-button

In many cases it is possible to then download and (temporarily) read offline (parts of) the book on your computer, tablet or e-reader. This depends on the kind of licence the University Library has agreed on with the provider or publisher. 

More information about e-books at the University Library



SmartCat is the catalogue of the University of Groningen library (UL Inner City, UL Zernike, the Social Sciences library and the Central Medical Library).  In this catalogue you can find records of all books, e-books, journals, e-journals, manuscripts, atlases, dvds etc. held by the University Library, including information on location and availability of printed material and links to the e-books which are available online.


SmartCat is more than a conventional catalogue. It is a so-called ‘discovery tool‘. This means, for example, that it also gives access to the full-text of all articles published in e-journals to which the Library subscribes. And you can search not only the collection of the University Library of Groningen, but also those of other libraries in the Netherlands and abroad.

Searching with SmartCat - some suggestions

If your search term consists of a combined term or phrase, put it between quotation marks. Examples: "criminal law", "quantitative research". The same goes for complete book titles. Example: "room with a view".

Looking for titles by a particular author? You can use both 'Mark Twain' and 'Twain, Mark'. Better still: type 'au: Mark Twain' in the search field or choose Advanced Search and select the 'author' search option.


More information

-  By default SmartCat searches in libraries worldwide. However, books and journal articles held by the University of Groningen library are always presented at the top of your list of search results. When your results appear on the screen you can limit the results to those held by the University of Groningen Library only, in the menu on the left of your screen.


- Editions and formats: Always check the tab 'Editions and formats'' in the title description of an item in your list of search results, by clicking on the Other editions & formats link. In this tab SmartCat presents all available editions, including the most recent ones and e-book versions of the title.


- Go to the 'Library Links' button and then 'Borrower Information' to find information about your loans and reservations and to renew your books. Do not use Sign in for this.


Need more information about SmartCat?

Use the special LibGuide with more detailed information about SmartCat.

Lending information

Check out this powerpoint presentation for important lending information.

What if the University Library does not have the book I need?

If the University Library does not have the material your need (books or articles) you can request them from another library in the Netherlands through Interlibrary Loan (ILL).

More information on Interlibrary Loan

Full-text books on the Internet

Worldwide there are various initiatives to offer digitized books full-text on the internet. Usually this applies only to older books where copyright no longer applies. However, there are also collaborative initiatives by publishers and libraries to offer more recent, and sometimes even new books, full-text online.


The best known and largest provider is Google through its Google Books search engine.


In Delpher, a database hosted by the National Library in The Hague, you will find millions of digitized searchable texts from Dutch newspapers, books and journals. These texts are taken from the collections of various scientific institutions, libraries and heritage institutions. The University Library of Groningen also contributes to this database. 

Full-text e-book databases such as Early English Books Online en Early Dutch Books Online can be accessed through Electronic databases on the Library web portal.