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Finding and using books and theses

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Ebooks

The easiest way to find an ebook if you know the title is to search for it using Library Search.

Another way is to use the list of ebook providers on the ebooks page to find collections of ebooks. Each collection has a short description to help you decide which one to use.

If you are not sure what an ebook is, see Understanding ebooks.

Finding a specific ebook

  • Go to Library Search and put a title, subject or title and author name in the search box.
  • Library Search may not include all available ebooks so you may want to browse or search individual collections from the list of ebook providers on this page.

Finding an ebook in a collection

  • Different suppliers use different methods of displaying the books, and different ways you can use the content, but they do have some features in common.
  • Most allow you to enter keywords to search for ebooks on a topic.
  • You will usually be able to browse by subject area or title.
  • Sometimes the ebooks are limited to a certain number of users at one time. If you cannot access a book try again later as it may be that the book is already being used by the maximum number of users.

Reading an ebook

  • Some ebooks display in your web browser and some will open in special software such as a PDF reader.
  • If the table of contents is displayed, you can sometimes use it to navigate to specific pages or chapters.
  • Some ebooks have navigation arrows to turn the pages and these can be located in different places.
  • Most ebook collections will allow you to bookmark a particular title or export the citation.
  • Some collections, such as EBSCO, require that you create a personal profile in order to apply a hold or download request to a title.
  • If you need help, look for help and advice within the provider’s website.

Downloading and printing

Ebooks are subject to Copyright Law. See the OU Library's Copying and download policy for more information. General guidance is that you may print one chapter or 5% of an ebook, whichever is greater. Most providers restrict the amount you can print and copy – some do not allow printing or copying the text at all. Many have to be read online, as there is often no facility to download ebooks in formats that are compatible with ebook readers.

Searching for theses

The Electronic Theses Online System (EThOS) is a service provided by the British Library which makes available doctoral research theses from UK Universities. You can make requests to EThOS for a thesis to be digitised if it is not already available. There may be a charge for this.

Theses by Open University students are also available via Open Research Online (ORO). You can search and view a digital version of a thesis if it has been provided by the author.

Many universities worldwide have their own research collections freely available online. If you know which university has awarded the thesis required, it is worth searching to see if they have a research repository and if the thesis has been made available.

The Open University Library holds print copies of Open University theses. You can search for these in Library Search by restricting your results to ‘In the Library at Walton Hall’. Although most of them cannot be borrowed, the majority can be consulted within the library building.

Staff and research students who are eligible for Document Delivery can use this service to request non-UK theses or UK theses which cannot be supplied via EThOS.

Getting print materials

You can borrow materials from other Universities near you by registering for the SCONUL Access Scheme.

If you are near the OU campus in Milton Keynes you can borrow from the library at Walton Hall.

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