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Information Literacy: I want to find a book

Test libguide for Project LibGuides

So many books

During your study you will have to get your information largely from 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 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 contains the description, availability and location of books, journals and other items from a certain collection. In a traditional library catalogue you will by no means find all the literature that has been published on a subject, but only literature that is part of the library's own collection.

Searching with SmartCat

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 the collection of the University of Groningen. If your search does not come up with any results SmartCat asks you Do you want to expand your search to libraries worldwide? If you click on this, SmartCat will continue your search in the collections of other libraries in the Netherlands and abroad. In the Advanced Search it is possible under Location to choose yourself between the following options:

  • University of Groningen
  • Libraries in the Netherlands
  • Libraries Worldwide

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

For information about your loans and reservations go to 'Sign in' > 'My account'

For more information on searching in SmartCat check out the SmartCat LibGuide.


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 Access online button you go to the e-book's content.

view online-button

(Access online)

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

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 and Early Dutch Books Online can be accessed through Electronic databases on the Library web portal.