OneSearch Search Tips

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OneSearch Search Tips

On this page: Getting Started | Searching | Using Filters & ScopesArticles & DatabasesDocument DeliveryCourse Reserves & Video Booking | Research Support | Making OneSearch Work Better For You

Getting Started

Is there an easy tutorial that will familiarize me with OneSearch?
Why should I sign in to OneSearch?

Signing in to OneSearch assures that you'll have the best search experience and the greatest level of functionality. Signing in means that databases and full-text providers are going to recognize you and allow access to licensed articles and other content. OneSearch also offers up different delivery options for faculty and students so when you sign in links to the services you can use will display.

What browsers work best with OneSearch?

Just about any browser will work but developers of the underlying software have optimized Primo / OneSearch for Chrome, Firefox 3+ and Internet Explorer. It is also recommended that you have third-party cookies enabled for best results. And, as always, you should be using a recent browser version.

Note: some users have reported problems while using Safari or Opera - these problems might be solved by enabling 3rd-party cookies (Safari blocks them by default).


How do I search for a specific book title in OneSearch?

Your initial search results will include a mix of material types. Use filters on the left-side column to narrow to one material type.

To limits results to books only:

  1. In search box, enter title of book – ex. On the Road.
  2. Optional. Place quotes around title – ex. “On the road”
  3. Click “OneSearch” button.
  4. From the filters on the left-side column, under “Resource Type”, click “Books”.
Why does using quotation marks help me find specific titles?

In OneSearch, Google and many other search interfaces placing quotes around a group of words means that you find "these words exactly in this sequence." Without quotes you are looking for any occurrence of these words in the record. So, in the case of looking for a book title, quotes are much more likely to return the results you want.

How can I do a title search for a book using advanced search?
How can I limit my search results to what's in the Western Libraries catalog?

Use the dropdown menu in the OneSearch box to choose how widely you want to search. You can limit your search results to

  • At WWU Only
  • WWU Libraries + Summit
  • Everything (includes journal articles from most databases)

You can then further refine your search results using the filters in the column at the left of your search results list.

Also see this helpful video:

How can I do a keyword search?

By default, OneSearch preforms keyword searches. This means it locates items with your search terms anywhere in the record (title, author, subject, full-text, etc). For best results, consider including specific terms, like an author’s last name, along with your keywords. This will return more narrow results.

We will be searching for materials (books, articles, videos, reports, etc.) on the topic of China's air pollution.


Submitting this search yields the following results:


Using the filters or limits on the left, one can restrict to specific formats, dates, authors and so forth. And of course it is always beneficial to play around with other search terms, particularly synonyms, and broader or narrower language. If you know a particular author who writes about this subject simply include his or her name in the search:

What are the colored dots in front of the records?

These color coded indicators let you know at a glance the availability of an item. In general they denote the following:

  • Green - Available to you immediately either through electronic access or as an unchecked out print item on the shelf at the noted location.
  • Yellow - Available and can be delivered to you fairly quickly via a Summit Borrowing request. Click the Find It link.
  • Grey - Applied to an article indicates the item is not available as full-text. For a book, video or other loanable item grey indicates it's currently unavailable either locally or through Summit Borrowing. These can usually be requested through ILLiad by clicking the Find It link.

Using Filters & Scopes

How can I get the best results using OneSearch?

Regardless of what you are looking for, you will conduct a search, then use the filters located on the left to narrow and get the best results.

You may also want to begin your search by choosing one of these three scopes before you search: Everything (which includes articles from most databases), At WWU Only, or WWU Libraries + Summit.

Then continue to narrow your results using the filters at the left to get you closer and closer to what you want. Advanced search can also help you get to more accurate results quicker.

Also see this helpful video:

I'm getting too many results, how can I narrow my results?

Scopes and filters help you quickly narrow your results. More specific search terms also narrow results.

  • Use scopes – next to search box
    • At WWU Only – books, journals and media at WWU
    • WWU + Summit – books journals and media at WWU and Summit
    • Everything – all the above, plus articles from databases
  • Use filters – from left-side column
    • Options currently can include: resource type, subject, date, autor/creator, library, language, journal title, and availability.
  • Use specific search terms – ex. Rather than "dogs" try "working dogs europe."
Will I be able to limit to materials on campus?

Yes. Start by using the scopes in the dropdown menu next to the search box. Try At WWU Only to limit your results to only items in our collections, or WWU Libraries + Summit which will expand results to include request-able items held by our Summit partners.

Articles & Databases

What databases does OneSearch search?

OneSearch includes hundreds of millions of records for books, journal articles, e-books and e-journals, news articles, plus information usually found in research databases.

OneSearch includes most of the databases and journals that most patrons already use. Some databases and journals allow full-text searching, others include only citation information (e.g., title, author, abstract, etc.). Full-text will be available to you using the View It link.

See this document for a full list of databases searched by OneSearch. NOTE: EBSCO databases are not on the list but are included in your search results as part of a separate API.

Why don't I find any articles when I search "At WWU Only" or "WWU Libraries + Summit?"

Use “Everything” scope, next to search box, to find articles from databases WWU subscribes to. The other scopes, "At WWU Only" and "WWU Libraries + Summit", are specifically built to give you a search experience more like the old catalog, which focused on our physical collections of books, scores, media, etc. and kept database content separate.

How do I search for articles in OneSearch?

To find articles in OneSearch, search for your topic and use filter on left-side column to limit to “articles” or "peer reviewed journals."

I've heard content from ProQuest & Ebsco isn't in OneSearch, is that true?

OneSearch is a product of ExLibris, an international Library-oriented content management (not actual content) provider. ExLibris has competitors that offer both content and content management (ex. Ebsco/Proquest), and at times these competitors refuse to allow their content to be indexed by ExLibris. This creates gaps in the information that ExLibris is able to provide in its search engine. The very public Ex Libris/Proquest spat is one of the major reasons the Western Libraries have retained their databases (including Ebsco, ProQuest, and Web of Science), which includes ownership of both unique content and the value-added search features.

If we were to say a database is not included in OneSearch, that is technically not correct. Databases primarily index journal articles, and many of the journals they index are also contained in journal packages and subscriptions that we already own. So in actuality, OneSearch is searching a large percentage of Ebsco and ProQuest content at a journal (rather than database) level. In other words, the unique content of specific databases not "in" OneSearch is actually quite small. Still, as you can imagine, there is enormous pressure from academic libraries and their users for Ebsco and Ex Libris to play nice. The Orbis Cascade Alliance is not taking this matter lightly and has written both ExLibris and Ebsco several strongly worded letters (see

Some unique resources still have to be searched in non-OneSearch databases. These include dissertations (Dissertations and Theses), newspapers (Newspaper Source Plus or Lexis/Nexis), art images (ARTstor), and specialized full-text content like the Oxford English Dictionary, Grove Music Online, and other non-journal databases.

Document Delivery

How can I have an item owned by Western Libraries sent to me?

If you are a faculty member or enrolled at one of Westerns distance programs you can make a request for delivery of an item owned by Western Libraries.

  • First identify the item you want to request using one of the search strategies listed above. Here's an example using the book "Just My Type." OneSearch shows it is currently Available.
  • Click the Find It link and note the line in the view labeled "Request Options" and click on "Request Using ILLiad." This will take you to the ILLiad login screen.
  • onesearch-tips
  • If you are signed in to OneSearch (do this using the Sign in link at the upper right) your options differ slightly.
Can I still access and request materials from other libraries?

Yes! And OneSearch will make this easier by incorporating the request for Summit or ILLiad items into your search results.

How do I use OneSearch to find a book in Summit and request it?
  • Start from a new search box by clicking the "New Search" link near the top of the page. This helps clear search criteria from any previous searches you've done. Now key a book title or search terms in the OneSearch box. "SARS epidemic." Note that I've put my search term in quotes. This helps focus the search to a phrase rather than separate keywords which could appear together or separately.
  • Your search results will contain a variety of material types but since you are looking for a book on this topic click the Books link under the Resource Type heading at the left.
  • Now your search results contain books. Some have green dots and some have yellow dots. Green indicates books available at Western Libraries. The yellow dots typically indicate an item available through Summit Borrowing.
  • To make a Summit Borrowing request click the Find It link which opens a view-pane in which you'll see a link labeled "Request Using Summit Borrowing." Click here.
  • onesearch-tips
  • From here you'll see the familiar Summit Borrowing interface where you can proceed to make your request using your WWU Universal Login credentials. NOTE: In some instances the Summit Borrowing display will have the "Find a copy online" open and it may show "0 Summit." Don’t be misled by this. Print copy availability will display below.
How do I make an ILLiad request from my OneSearch results?

By default OneSearch search results brings back results for items available locally and via Summit. Expanding the search results brings in materials that can be requested using your ILLiad account. Typically these are going to display with grey dots.

  • Search the phrase "sars epidemic" using Western OneSearch.
  • Click the box under the Expand My Results heading. Then scroll down the page to find a "grey dot" item and click Find It. This opens a view-pane containing the link "Request Using ILLiad."
  • onesearch-tips
  • Click this link to login to your ILLiad account using your WWU Universal Login. Data from the citation will be parsed into the ILLiad request form for you. In some instances a piece of required data may not be available. You can satisfy the "requirement" by keying NA (not available) into any field with a red asterisk before it.
  • This same process is used to request a book using ILLiad.

Also see this helpful video:

Course Reserves & Video Booking

How do I find course reserve readings for my class?
Can I book a video/DVD in advance to show in my class?

Yes, faculty may book videos for showings on specific dates and times. Contact the Circulation Services staff by phone (360-650-3084) or email. If you are also placing the video on Course Reserves you can include booking information and the staff processing your reserves materials will facilitate the necessary bookings.

While OneSearch will accommodate self-booking there are currently a number of issues that impact reliability. While these issues are being addressed by the vendor we recommend working with library staff to set-up bookings for specific dates and times.

Research Support

Will OneSearch work with citation management tools?

Yes, you can create lists using your e-Shelf, and then export your list to RIS file format, then import RIS file into most citation management tools like RefWorks, Endnote, Zotero and Mendeley. Zotero users can also save items available in Western Libraries using the Zotero browser extension, but for articles you must navigate to the full text, then you can save it using the extension.

I still need some help finding my resources. Who can I talk to?

We have librarians on hand who can help you! Visit our Research Consultation Desk or live chat with a librarian to get more help.

Making OneSearch Work Better For You

Will I still have access to my library account?

Yes. Everything about your account will be mostly the same. After signing-in you will be able to see all of your checked-out items, requests, fines, messages and settings. You can use tabs to navigate to your e-Shelf to view saved items.

NOTE: the Reading History option of the old system is not present in the new system.

Is it possible to make OneSearch display more than 10 items at a time?

Yes! OneSearch displays up to 10 returned search results per browser page. This number can be personalized when you Sign In to your OneSearch account. Click the Sign In link at the upper right of the screen and proceed as shown below. Extended results display is not available as a GUEST.

I have feedback about OneSearch or the change to OneSearch. Who can I talk to?

We welcome feedback on OneSearch and how we can make it easier for our patrons. Tell us what you think by visiting our OneSearch Feedback page.

For additional information, browse the OneSearch topic on the Ask Us! Answer Service.