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HIST 417: Making of Modern America

Finding Books via Search It

Tips for finding books in Search It, the WSU Libraries' catalog.

Use BOOLEAN operators to refine your searches.

  • AND will search for BOTH of the words together (prohibition AND gender will bring back resources that have both of those words, not one or the other)
  • OR will search for EITHER of the words (this is good for when you have synonyms, or want to search for multiple places or people at once. Example: (prohibition OR temperance) AND (chicago OR Ohio))
  • NOT will exclude a word from your search (prohibition NOT "ken burns" will exclude all sources about Ken Burns' Prohibition series)


  • Use quotation marks around phrases to search for words that you would expect to appear together. (e.g. "Woman's Christian Temperance Union" or "Great Depression")
  • Use an asterisk * to truncate a word and allow for variant endings or spellings: (indust* will search: industry, industrial, industrialization). 
  • Use specific names, events, or time periods to avoid being overwhelmed by extraneous results; this is especially important when searching for primary sources.
  • Use the FACETS on the left side of the screen to refine your search by resource type, date, subject area, and more. You can also refine so that it shows you only sources online at WSU.
  • When you locate relevant items in your search results, open the full record to look at the subject headings listed under the "Details" section in the Search It record. You can click on relevant subject headings to see other titles with the same heading, or reuse them in a new search that incorporates additional keywords. NOTE: There may be multiple subject headings for the same or similar topics (e.g. World War I or Great War), so try a few of them.
  • Use reference lists/bibliographies in relevant works to locate other research materials. 
  • As we cannot currently browse the physical shelves in the library, Search It has a 'Browse Library Shelves' feature within each item record (scroll to the bottom), visually displaying the books located next to your book on the shelves.
  • Search primary sources by adding the following to your keyword search in Search It: sources, correspondence, letters, personal narratives, diaries, church records, wills, documents etc. For example: flapper* AND (diaries OR diary).

Accessing Print and Electronic Books: COVID Edition

The library will be closed during the Fall 2020 semester. However, you can still check out print books and other physical materials, as we can mail them to your place of residence. For those of you on campus, we have contactless pickup available in lockers outside of the library. To request one of these options, make sure you are logged in to Search It. When you click on the item title and scroll down, click on the Request Item button and select your preference. NOTE: If you request home delivery, make sure that your address is correct in your student account, OR enter it in the notes field when making the request.

For information on these options, and for tutorials on a wide range of information regarding access to materials, please see the "How Do I" page (link below).

Many eBooks in our collection can be accessed online from anywhere, using your WSU NetID and password. Some of these books have unlimited licenses, meaning that they may be viewed and checked out by any number of users, and some are more restricted. To read a full book offline, you must download certain software that allows you to "check it out" for a certain period of time. However, you may read the full book online without technically checking it out. In some cases, you can download a chapter or a certain percentage of the book as a PDF to keep forever. See the links below for information.

One eBook program we participate in is called HathiTrust ETAS. If you see this listed on a red button on a book record, click on it, and then on the next page, click on Log In on the top right. This will ensure you get access to the book.

If we do not have access to a book or article, we can order it from another library for free! Please see the instructions for ordering via Summit (books) and Interlibrary Loan (books, articles, and more) in the How Do I link below, or contact me (Erin Hvizdak) with questions.

WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us