Advance to a Broader Search

Suppose you need a book on a certain topic so badly that you don’t care if your local library carries it or not. Let’s say you’re a Texan who, thanks to What’s the Big Idea?, is all fired up about Boston Red Sox great Ted Williams — what do you do then?

If you’re like me, you go to’s advanced book search, which covers way more books than can fit in a single library.

Enter your subject as plainly as possible — simply Ted Williams will do in this case — in the Keywords field.

You may also want to narrow the search down to just books for young readers. You can do this in various ways — with another Keyword (“juvenile”), or with Subject (“Children’s Books”), or with Reader Age, as shown above.

The results show three books that are obviously about the guy you’re looking for. Click their titles for more information.

Now, maybe the top part of the page convinces you that this is the book to have. But if it doesn’t, go all the way to the bottom of the page —

— where you’ll see a couple of options for further research: “Look for Similar Items by Category” and “Look for Similar Items by Subject.” Both of these are easy to figure out just by playing with them a bit.

Assuming you do finally find the right book for you, what then? Well, you can always go back to your library’s online catalog and see if that title is available there. If it’s not, you can ask that your library borrow it from another library.

Or, heck, you could even just buy the book yourself, or convince somebody close by that it would make a swell [name of next holiday] present.

But what if you still haven’t found a likely source for the answers to your questions? Hang on — I’m getting to that.