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Searching Options

There is no single tool that includes all Boston College Libraries collections and resources in one search, so use different tools based on your needs:


a search of books, articles, and other materials in BC collections and beyond

What is Holmes: BC Collections?

  • BC physical library collections (books, DVDs, CDs, maps, archives and special collections, and more)
  • Some electronic materials (e-books, BC Digital Collections, streaming video, and more)

What is Holmes: BC Collections best for?

  • Finding a specific book, journal, or physical item in the BC Libraries when you already know the title
  • Starting a new search to see what material we own about a topic

What is Holmes: Articles?

  • Journal articles from a variety of sources, though not the entirety of articles available through BC Libraries

What is Holmes: Articles best for?

  • Finding a specific article online when you already know the article title (Far from all the articles in our collections are individually indexed here, however; if your article is not found, search the journal title in Holmes: BC Collections to see if we own the journal in any format)

What's not in Holmes?

  • Neither Holmes: BC Collections nor Holmes: Articles include all of the journal articles available through our collections; if you need to do a more in-depth search on a topic, you'll want to go further with Research Databases

Holmes Search Tips

  • After running a search, use the filters on the left of the results page to narrow your search to only physical or online material, to a specific BC library, or by subject, date, and more
  • To narrow your results before running the search, use the drop-down menus on the Advanced Search page
  • Add quotation marks around a term to search it as a phrase instead of as individual words -- for example:
    • “great depression”
  • Combine search terms using AND, OR, NOT (in uppercase) -- for example:
    • plastics AND environment will narrow to results that have both terms
    • plastics OR environment will broaden to results that have either term
    • plastics NOT environment will eliminate results that contain the term environment
  • Searches can be nested using parentheses -- for example:
    • (squid OR octopus) AND ("Gulf of California" OR "Sea of Cortez")
  • Wildcards -- an asterisk (*) will give you any word which starts with the letters you use -- for example:
    • allerg* will bring results for allergy, allergies, allergens, allergic, etc.

Research Databases

in-depth, refined tools for finding articles and other sources in specific subjects

What are Research Databases?

  • Subject-specific collections of journal articles, data, archival material, and more
  • Powerful search engines with nuanced capabilities to focus and narrow your search

What are Research Databases best for?

  • Finding scholarly journal articles in specific disciplines
  • Finding magazine, newspaper, and other popular articles

With over 600 different databases, where do I start?

  • If you know where you'd like to start, just go to any database alphabetically or by subject, but if you're not sure where to begin, try using the Research Guides


a quick search of what journals are available electronically through the BC Libraries

What is the E-journals tool best for?

  • Looking up the title of any journal, magazine, or newspaper to see if it is available online through the BC Libraries

Is this searching for articles?

  • No, the e-journal tool shows you what journals we have available electronically, and you can then search within a specific journal for individual articles
  • If you're looking for a broad search for articles on a topic, try Research Databases or Holmes: Articles

Are these all of the journals available at BC?

  • More and more of the journals available at BC are electronic, but certainly not all -- we still have many journals available in print or microform
  • Search Holmes: BC Collections for a definitive list of what journals we have available and in what format (print, electronic, microform)

Research Guides

sources, strategies, and support from your Boston College Librarians

What are Research Guides best for?

  • Offering you good starting places for your focused, scholarly research, organized by broad and narrow subject and even specific courses
  • Helping you find subject specialists and other contacts in the Libraries to help with your research

How can the subject specialist help me?

  • We have subject specialist librarians for every field of study at Boston College
  • They are eager to help assist your research -- clarifying your topic, developing search strategies, finding appropriate sources, and helping you to access materials at BC and elsewhere