Searching & Browsing

This page describes how to search or browse ACE to find accessible books. Please use the links above to jump to a particular section, or browse them all by scrolling further.


Simple searching

Searching ACE is as easy as entering your terms and press Submit, without changing any of the other options.

By default, you will be searching for your keyword anywhere it appears, you will be searching both ACE books and ebooks your library has purchased, you will only see books that you have full text access to through your library, and your search results will be ordered by their relevance.

Screenshot highlighting the ACE Portal search feature

Useful tips: Most ebooks are only available as PDFs. If you need a different format, such as DAISY or TXT, you can limit your search to ACE books only by selecting Accessible Content (ACE) under the Collection dropdown. You should also do this if you’re looking for a specific book that you know is part of ACE.

Please note that the search feature does not catch spelling errors. If you are having trouble finding a book you know is available in the ACE collection, check your spelling to make sure you have entered your terms correctly.

Advanced searching

Sometimes you need to use more sophisticated tools to find what you need. This section describes some of the advanced search features available in ACE.

Specifying search fields

By default, when you search ACE you will be searching Anywhere for the terms you entered. Sometimes, you may not want to search anywhere. For example, if you are looking for books written by Barack Obama, searching all fields might give you too many results with books written about Obama instead.

ACE allows you to specify which field to search. In addition to the Anywhere option, you can limit searching to Title, Keyword, Author, Publisher, ISBN, Publication Year, Language, Abstract, and more.

Screenshot showing the drop-down menu listing specific search fields

Useful tips: The ACE collection is much smaller than most library catalogues or databases. If you are searching for ACE books only, we generally do not recommend starting off with a very specific search. Try a general search of all fields first. If you are getting too many results, then try specifying a search field. Otherwise you might eliminate useful results too early in your search, and end up missing books that might be valuable.

Sorting your results

By default, your search results will be ordered by their relevance. However, you can choose to sort your results by Recently Published, Recently Added, or Title instead.

Screenshot showing the drop-down menu options available for sorting search results

Although you can choose how you want to sort your results before your search, you can also sort them afterwards. When you perform a search, ACE will keep your search terms in the search field above your results. If you want to change how you’ve sorted your results, simply click the Search options button, click the drop-down menu, choose your desired sort option, and press Submit again to resort your results.

Screenshot of ACE Portal demonstrating how to resort search results

Toggling full text

By default, your search results will only include books which you have full text access to through your library. The ACE collection contains accessible books from many academic libraries across Ontario, but you will only be able download the full text copy of books that your school owns (see FAQs for more information).

Sometimes, you may be curious to know what other books are available in the collection, even though you won’t be able to access their full text. To search all the books available in the ACE collection, simply select the Everything radio button before pressing Submit.

Screenshot showing checkbox to toggle searching for only books available in full text

If you find a book in ACE that you can’t access, first make sure you have not accidentally logged out. If you still cannot access the book, but you think you should be able to, get in touch with your local ACE coordinator to confirm if your university is eligible for access to the book. If it is, we can grant you access quickly. Please read the FAQs for more information and instructions.

Using boolean operators

It is also possible to search the ACE collection using advanced boolean operators like AND, OR, and NOT. Boolean operators allow you to run more nuanced searches and control your results.

To use boolean operators in your search, click the small plus sign icon on the right-hand side of the search field. This will add a new row to your search, where you can select your desired boolean operator from the drop-down menu. Rows may continue to be added or removed as needed using the small plus or minus sign icons on the right-hand side of each row.

Screenshot demonstrating how to add boolean search operators


Refining your search

Once you have run a search, you may find you need to refine it further to narrow down the results. ACE provides a series of facets on the right-hand side to let you refine your search. The available facets include: Keyword, Author, Series, Book Type, Language, and Publication Date.

Screenshot highlighting the facets feature for refining searches

Under each facet heading, a series of refinement links will be provided. The number in brackets at the end of each link indicates how many results are available with each possible refinement. Simply click on a link to refine your search. You can repeat this process as many times as you wish, so long as further refinements are available.

Once you have refined your search, your selected refinements will appear in the search form at the top of the page. You can remove any refinements you no longer want by clicking the small minus icon to the right of the refinement.

Screenshot highlighting list of applied limits

Useful tips: please remember that these facets only allow you to refine your original search results. If you want to clear your results and start a whole new search, go back to the main search field and type in new search terms.


Browsing the collection

Sometimes, you may wish to browse through the collection to discover books you might want to use. Below we have offered two suggestions to help you browse.

Viewing the entire collection

If you want to view all the books available in ACE, simply leave the search field empty, select Accessible Content (ACE) from the Collection drop-down menu, and press Submit. (You can choose whether to select the Books you can read or Everything, depending on whether you want to see all the books in the collection, or only those which you can access in full text.)

This easy trick allows you to skip entering specific search terms, so you can use the facets on the right-hand side to browse through the entire collection instead.

Browsing through links

In addition to all the search and refinement features, ACE also includes a number of hyperlinked fields that allow you to browse through the collection in other ways.

For example, if you are viewing a particular book in the collection, you will notice that you can click on the author’s name (near the top of the page) to view a list of all other books in the ACE collection written by that author. Other links that facilitate browsing can be found under the Details tab, which allow you to see other books that are part of the same series.

Screenshot highlighting browsable links in the ACE Portal interface

Useful tips: sometimes information about a book’s topic or series is not available or applicable, so these links will not be provided. Also, please note that author names may not be standardized across the collection, so if you want to be sure you have found every available book by a particular author, make sure you run a fresh search instead. Browsable links are provided to facilitate convenience and discovery, but they are not necessarily the most rigorous way to search the collection.