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A Guide to...African History

Find Books, Ebooks & Chapters

Finding Books in CrossSearch:

Search for books at Holy Cross by using CrossSearch or the Library Catalog:


CrossSearch is the Libraries' multi-search "discovery" tool. CrossSearch searches a cross-section of journal articles, newspapers, CDs, images, and many other types of resources available through the libraries. It is also our main library catalog -- the tool you use to find books, journals, and other items physically located in the library.  

To search only items physically owned by the libraries, you can use the Catalog Only limit in CrossSearch. 

Watch our video tutorial  to learn more about CrossSearch! 

You can search the catalog in a few different ways. 

Try searching for books using a very basic keyword search. Books tend to be on broad topics, so the terms you search with should be broad, too! Once you've found a few books that look interesting to you, you can use clues from the books to help you find other books. For example.... 

  • Call Numbers. Books on similar subjects are in similar areas of the library.
  • Vocabulary. Check the records in the library catalog for vocabulary in the tables of contents, titles, descriptions or other information that you might use for future searches. mecca
  • Subjects. Every book in our catalog is marked with at least 1 "tag" that tells you what the book is mostly about, and links together other books on that same topic. You can click on the tags to find a list of all other books using that tag. 

Navigating the Stacks:

Books at Dinand Library are arranged by Library of Congress Call Number.

  • Reference books are in the Main Reading Room.
  • Call numbers A through G are on the upper (Mezzanine) level.
  • Call numbers H through Z are on the lower (Ground) level (with a few exceptions).
  • and TR call numbers are located on the main level in the Visual Arts Wing.
  • Oversize books (with a "+" in the call number) are shelved at the end of the normal section for that letter. 

See the handout below for information about how the stacks are organized, and the best places for you to look. 

You can also watch  our video tutorial  to learn more about how call numbers work. Or, check out the Library of Congress Classification Outline for a detailed breakdown of our call number system. 

To search for books located at Holy Cross, use CrossSearch or the Library Catalog.

You can also try searching WorldCat, which searches the collections of libraries around the world (including ours!). Sometimes the information about a book is listed differently in WorldCat, allowing you to find sources that you would never have pulled up in our own catalog. 

And of course, you might also find books you'd like to read at other libraries -- read more about Interlibrary Loan on the Find Full Text page


In addition to the library stacks, you have access to the thousands of ebooks included in our collections! 

Searching for EBooks: 

To search for ebooks owned by Holy Cross, use CrossSearch.

Then, use the Resource Type limiter in the side navigation to focus your search on ebooks. 

Accessing EBooks:

In most cases, your best option is to use the "Read Online" feature for our e-books. Most academic e-books do not work with devices that you might use to read personal e-books, such as a Kindle or Nook (believe me -- this frustrates librarians too!). There is software that you can download onto a PC or iPad, but this can be difficult to use, so if you have a stable internet connection, I recommend reading online. 

However, if you would like to download the software, or if you are having trouble accessing any particular e-book, please feel free to contact me or see our e-books guide linked below: 

NOTE that most e-books do have limits on printing. 

Boston Public Library EBooks

With a BPL eCard, available to all Massachusetts residents and resident students (even if you're currently learning from out-of-state), you can access e-books via the Boston Public Library: 

Other EBooks

There are also a variety of online ebook libraries that provide free access. Here are a few of the main ones you should know: 

Book Chapters:

Book chapters are another useful kind of resource that you might turn to for this project. Even if a book is in print, librarians can scan an individual chapter or portion of a book to deliver to you. You can also request book chapters via Interlibrary Loan and receive them electronically. 

Locating Book Chapters:

Locating book chapters that you may want to read can take a little more time. Here are some creative ways that you might find book chapters: 

  • CrossSearch -- some, but not all, of our books have tables of contents in the catalog that you can check; 
  • Google Books typically have limited previews, but if you can see enough to locate a helpful chapter, we can get you a copy; 
  • Similarly, previews; 
  • Google Scholar sometimes includes citations for book chapters (and searches across Google Books); 
  • Databases (some, but not all, include book chapter citations specifically; America History & Life is one); 
  • Citations in bibliographies of articles, e-books, or other books that you may have checked out before we closed. 

You can also try searching WorldCat, which searches the collections of libraries around the world (including ours!). Sometimes the information about a book is listed differently in WorldCat, allowing you to find sources that you would never have pulled up in our own catalog. 

Each of these strategies can be used to....

(1) Find the titles of book chapters in our own libraries, which library staff can scan and send to you; or 

(2) Find the titles of book chapters held by other libraries, which can be requested on Interlibrary Loan.

Requesting Book Chapters:

For instructions on how to obtain book chapters that you would like to use, see the Find Full Text page on this guide.