This ebook guide focuses on the wealth of children’s and young adult materials available to members of the Teachers College community. It was written in conjunction with the 2020 October Staff Picks, Children’s Awards: An Ebook Retrospective.
Ebook Collections at the Gottesman Libraries
eBooks on Ebscohost is one of the major ebook platforms where digital copies of children’s books are held. There are numerous ways to explore ebooks for young readers beyond a simple title or author search.
General assistance for eBooks on Ebscohost can be found on Ebsco’s eBooks User Guide. For information on accessibility features offered by this platform, visit our Ebook Accessibility Series: Using EBSCOhost and JSTOR Accessibility Features blog post.
eBooks on Ebscohost
eBooks on Ebscohost allows users to explore its holdings in a number of ways. Aside from utilizing the classic database search function, users can browse by subjects designated on the homepage, including Children’s and Young Adult Fiction and Children’s and Young Adult Non-fiction. There is no way to filter directly for awards, honors, or book lists using this platform. However, it is possible to search for books by award with a degree of accuracy.
Browsing by Collection
While databases have a reputation for being searchable indexes, eBooks on Ebscohost allows users to browse collections of electronic titles. Its Highlights and Featured eBooks sections allow quick viewing of newly-published titles. To the left of the page, a section labeled Browse by Collection offers links to lists of ebooks in a variety of categories. The first two links are Children’s and Young Adult Fiction and Children’s and Young Adult Nonfiction. Browsing these collections also offers a variety of limiters to refine browsing by publication date, and database-assigned subjects and categories. Unfortunately, browsing does not guarantee finding award or honor titles, but it does provide an interesting range of literature!
[Image: the eBook Collection “Browse by Category” sidebar with listings mostly in alphabetical order, with Children’s & Young Adult Fiction and Children’s & Young Adult Nonfiction at the top of the list.]
Using basic or advanced search, the “Select a Field” drop-down menus to the right of the search bars can be toggled to refine searches. Useful fields for finding youth-oriented books may include all text fields, title, author, and subject. These options are accompanied by two-character “field codes” which will appear in your Boolean search string. The drop-down menus for Boolean operators -- AND, OR, and NOT -- on the left of the search bars allow users to combine, separate, and omit certain terms.
[Image: the main search bars on the Ebscohost interface.]
The closest I was able to get to searching by award using a Boolean search:
All text fields “newbery”
NOT Title “newbery”
AND Subject “juvenile”
Boolean string: TX newbery NOT TI newbery AND SU juvenile
Sometimes, trial and error is necessary to determine what kind of Boolean phrasing yields the most appropriate search. Clicking on “Search History” below the fields in a basic search returns all previous searches and their results for easy comparison. Using “TX newbery NOT TI newbery” returned 58 results, but not all of them were award winners and some of them were not even juvenile literature.
[Image: a screenshot of a search history in eBooks on Ebscohost, listing a series of Boolean phrases that I attempted in finding the most refined string.]
The results returned under the “TX newbery NOT TI newbery AND SU juvenile” search were three books that are either past Newbery award-winners or honors. The award and honor name is present in the description, which is visible when clicking on the ebook’s title after locating it within EBSCOhost.
[Image: the three results of the previously mentioned search, including The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani, Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai, and El Deafo by Cece Bell.]
Boolean Searches Within Categories
It is possible, and perhaps more accurate, to combine aspects of the previous two browsing methods. Clicking on one of the categories along the left side of the homepage leads to a set of search results with one of the search fields at the top of the page populated with field codes: for instance, with the category Children’s & Young Adult Fiction, one search bar will be populated with “EC JUV* OR EC CGN*”
The populated field can be combined with additional fields of search using Boolean operators. An example of this would be a search for EC JUV* OR EC CGN* AND newbery.
[Image: a screenshot of the page of results from the search for EC JUV* OR EC CGN* AND newbery]
The search results from this search are identical to the search results for the phrase TX newbery NOT TI newbery AND SU juvenile. This reinforces that there are many ways to narrow down a search depending on where you begin and what you need from the database. It is also possible to expand from searching just Newbery and changing a search to include AND award OR honor OR medal, or any combination of those phrases, so long as you also search a Juvenile subject or collection. Once again, trial and error and experimentation are key!
Searching by Title or Auhtor
Of course, the most tried and true method of locating a digital version of an award-winning book is to find a title or author of interest on a list of your choice, access our ebook collections, and enter the title or author with quotation marks (ex., “Harbor Me” or “Jacqueline Woodson”) to ensure a specific search. Most database interfaces allow searches to be limited by title or author instead of just by keyword in order to streamline a search even more.
As always, if you need assistance finding a text or have questions about using a database, please reach out to us using our live chat feature or the Ask a Librarian link.