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HIST 3050 American Indian History to 1840: Finding Secondary Sources: Books

Databases for Books

GILFind:  the catalog of the UGA Libraries' holdings. 

WorldCat: if you don’t find enough resources in GILFind, try WorldCat, the world's most comprehensive bibliography, a combined catalog of books and other resources held by thousands of libraries worldwide.  Books not owned by the UGA Libraries can be requested from Interlibrary Loan.

Tips for Searching GILFind

In designing a search, you should think about how to strike the right balance between making the search broad enough that you don't exclude anything important for your topic, but narrow enough to avoid getting too many irrelevant results.  These tips give you ideas for broadening or narrowing your search.

  • Try your search several different ways, even if you get good results on the first try.  There's almost always more or better material available than you can find in just one search.
  • Divide your topic into concept groups.  For example, if your topic is the impact of European diseases on American Indian cultures during the early contact period, you have three concepts:  disease + American Indians + time period.  Instead of entering just one keyword for each concept, use multiple synonyms where appropriate to get more results.  In addition to the term disease, for example, you could also try health, epidemics, medicine, etc.    
  • Use the truncation/wildcard symbol * (asterisk) to find multiple forms of your keywords.  For example, histor* will search for history, historical, historian, historiography etc.  
  • Pick a few of the most relevant results from your search and look at their subject headings to get ideas for more search terms to try.  Each subject heading is a link that you can click, but you may get more results if you mix and match individual terms in a new search.
  • The "browse shelf" option near the bottom of the screen for each book shows what books are located nearby on the shelf.  You may find books this way that you wouldn't find with search terms.
  • If you get too many results or irrelevant results, you can narrow your search by adding another concept.  Too many results may also suggest that your topic is too broad, so adding another concept will help refine your topic as well as your search.
  • The "refine results" menu on the left of your results list gives you additional choices for limiting your search results, such as limiting by language or by date published.
  • It can be difficult to limit your search by historical time period.  You can try terms like "16th" for sixteenth century or "early modern" that refer to a historical era.  But the time period assigned to many books is a specific range of years (e.g., 1558-1585 or 1756-1763) that can vary greatly from one book to another even within the same topic.  And some books are merely assigned the not-very-helpful heading of "history."  There's no magic solution to this problem; you just have to do the best you can!


In an ideal world, every book that you identify as important to your research will be readily available when you need it.  In reality, you are almost certain to encounter difficulties at from time to time.  Here are some common problems with suggested solutions

What if...?

The book you need is already checked out to someone else?

  • You can recall it.  As soon as the other borrower has had the book for two weeks, the library will notify that individual to return it as soon as possible, and then the book will be held for you.  Fines for not returning recalled books are high, so most people do return them promptly!
  • You can borrow the book from another University System of Georgia library through GIL Express.  Sometimes this is quicker than recalling it.

The book you need isn't checked out to anyone else, but it's not on the shelf either?

  • Check the sorting shelves located near the elevator on each floor.
  • If you still can't find the book, you can request a search for it.
  • Or you can borrow it from another University System of Georgia library through GIL Express.  Sometimes this is the quicker option.

You need a book shelved at the Libraries' Repository?

  • The Repository is a storage facility located off campus.  You can request to have books brought back from it so that you can check them out.  This typically takes 24 hours, not including weekends.

You need a book, but you don't have time to go find it on the shelf?

  • You can use the book retrieval service and pick up the book at the check-out desk of the campus library of your choice.

The UGA Libraries don't own the book you need?

  • You can borrow it from another University System of Georgia library through GIL Express.
  • If no library in the USG has the book, you can borrow it from a library elsewhere through Interlibrary Loan.
  • You can request that the UGA Libraries purchase the book and add it to the collection.  This option depends on funding and availability of the book, but requests are filled whenever possible.

You can't remember when the books you checked out are due to be returned?

  • You can check your account online.  When your books are due, you can often renew them online as well.

This information is all about print books.  Doesn't the library have any ebooks?

  • Yes, the library has a growing collection of ebooks.  When you see the words "online access" in GILFind, that means you've found an ebook.
  • The library may have both an ebook and a print book for the same title, but each format will have its own catalog record, so be sure to scan your list of search results carefully to see which format(s) the library has.
  • You might think that any number of people can all use an ebook at the same time, and that you can download or print as much of an ebook as you need.  Unfortunately, publishers, not the UGA Libraries, determine settings for ebooks, and some allow only one user at a time and limit how many pages you can download or print.  If you are having trouble accessing the full text of an ebook, ask a librarian for help!