Primo – How to access e-books at the University of Aberdeen

At the UoA we have access to over 500,000 e-books so that you can read high-quality books wherever you can access the internet and in this post will look at how best to find these resources with Primo, our resource discovery tool, as you prepare for the upcoming exams.

We subscribe to approximately 25 different e-book collections, each with their own websites and different allowances for downloading. You can search for these e-books either from within Primo itself or directly on the websites of each of the different collections.First we will look at searching in Primo.

Searching for e-books in Primo

1 – To begin your search go to Primo at



2 – Once at Primo we would always recommend logging in so that you can link out to electronic materials and use all of the features available in Primo.



3 – You will need to enter your UoA username and password.



4 – Once logged in you will see your own name at the top of the screen. Select the Books+ tab to focus your search for e-books.



5 – In this example we will look for any e-books available on Scottish history.

  • Enter your keywords using Primo search rules. Details of the rules are available from the help screens in Primo.
  • When searching Primo your are only searching across details of Titles, Authors and short descriptions of the books, therefore keep searches quite broad and general
  • You are NOT searching the full text of the e-books
  • Select Libraries from the drop-down list on the right to narrow your search to only library materials.
  • Click Search to generate a list of appropriate results
  • This is a simple search we are doing here. To carry out a more detailed search you should select the Advanced Search option at the far right of the screen



6 – To narrow your results to only e-books click Full Text Online at the top of the results list.



7 – To further narrow your results to only books, not journals etc. select Books from the options on the left of the screen.



8 – To access any e-book you are interested in click on the title of the book with the right mouse button and select Open link in a new tab. By doing this you can access the e-book and also keep your list of Primo search results. You may be asked again for your UoA username and password to access the e-book.


Searching for e-books on e-book collection websites

By linking out to specific e-book collections you can run more powerful searches, and often you can search across the full text of the books in the collections. To select and link out to these collections follow the steps below.



1 – Having opened Primo and logged in select Find Databases from the top of the screen



2 – A new window will open.

  • Click drop-down arrow next to Category and select General Interest
  • Click drop-down arrow next to Sub-category and select Ebook collections
  • Click Find Databases
  • A list of 25 possible e-book collections will be created
  • To find out more about a particular collection select Show Info



3 – Having clicked Show Info you can see:

  • Details of subjects covered in that e-book collection
  • Search rules for that particular collection
  • Other information about that collection



4 – To access a particular e-book collection click its name with the right mouse button and select Open link in a new tab. Using the right mouse button means the database will open correctly. You may be asked to log in again.

Three library guides on using ebrary, one of our largest e-book collections with over 120,000 books, can be found here.

For more details on accessing electronic resources, particularly when off campus, see our library guide.

Further information on using Primo can be found in our online library guide.

To see our full range of library guides click here.

Also, don’t forget that library staff are here to help you locate any materials you may be having trouble locating.

Good luck with your exams.


All Library Systems now fully functional

We are happy to announce that all Library Systems are now back up and functioning correctly after the great work carried out by the University’s IT Service over the last day, since the major power outage across the Old Aberdeen campus yesterday.

You will now be able to search across our many different collections and resources as normal, and also use our self-issue and return machines with no problems.

We thank you again for your patience and understanding while this important work was carried out and also apologise again for any inconvenience caused by this interruption to our services.

Have a great weekend!

Ewan Grant

MAINTENANCE: Wiley Online Library

A scheduled maintenance for Wiley Online Library will take place on Saturday 7 March from 10.00am for up to 3 hours.

Wiley’s Customer Support Team apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Elaine Shallcross
Information Consultant, Law & Business

ScienceDirect books are mobile friendly!

sciencedirect_longDo you know that you can download one, selected, or all chapters from a book on ScienceDirect on to your computer or your mobile device? To find out how to do this follow the instructions on Elsevier’s Online Books Connect blog. 

The ScienceDirect site is mobile friendly too, so you can view full text online, or view/download chapters directly from the site via the browser on your mobile device. You can also download any HTML article or book chapter in Mobi (Kindle) or ePub format. This must be done on a computer and the files transferred to any eReader device that supports these file types. Instructions for ScienceDirect ePub and Mobi downloads are available online.

Access ScienceDirect via our electronic resources portal, Primo. Open the Find Databases link at the top of any Primo page and simply type ScienceDirect in the Name box. Use the link provided to navigate to the database.

Elaine Shallcross
Information Consultant, Law and Business

LIBRARY WORKSHOPS: Free lunchtime workshops to help you find materials

Now that teaching has begun again it may be time to turn your attention to finding the books and other materials that you need to study. Well, to help you find the materials you need, the Library service are running a series of free information skills workshops this term.

We call these our Find it Fast! Sessions and they begin next week, taking place between 27 January and 12 February 2015.

The Find it Fast! sessions are held over lunch time in The Sir Duncan Rice Library and are a great introduction to the services we provide and the best ways in which you can make use of them. We cover:

  • Using Primo, our online resource discovery tool for locating physical and electronic resources
  • How to access the hundreds of thousands of electronic books which we have access to
  • Using the many online databases which we subscribe to. They contain important resources which you just cannot find by searching in Google!
  • How to manage your references when writing assignments to ensure that you do not fall into the trap of plagiarism.
  • Using Google cleverly to get you to the information you need more quickly

These workshops are perfect for undergraduates and taught postgraduates across all Colleges. Invest one hour of your time over lunch to learn tips and techniques that will repay you with time saved when searching for the materials you need for assignments and exams.


  • The ‘Managing References and Creating Bibliographies’ workshops are offered in two parts so you must complete part 1 before attending part 2.
  • Unfortunately, these referencing workshops are not suitable for Law students as the software taught does not support the legal referencing style, OSCOLA.
  • And, because we offer repeats of most of the workshops please be sure to only sign up for one of each of them.


To find out more and to view the full list of information skills workshops on offer please go to

Places are limited, and fill up quickly , so sign up now before it’s too late.


Ewan Grant,

ADVISORY: Downloading E-book PDF files from Dawsonera

A problem has been reported when trying to download a PDF file from Dawson. An error message ‘The content failed to load’ may occur.

Reports say that “It is usually traced to a browser / PDF Reader problem. If you are using a browser such as FireFox or Chrome that contains its own integrated PDF reader, the book PDF will appear to download successfully, but if you then try to open it from its tab on the lower LH corner of the browser window (e.g. for Chrome), the file will open with a ‘Failed to load PDF document’.”

A workaround suggested by Jonathan Eaton, Senior Content & Systems Manager (IT) at the Library London Business School is: “Press CTRL + J keys or use the download toolbar button options to “open in folder” (typically for Windows this is C:\Users\\Downloads ) and double-click the PDF which should then open in Adobe Reader.” Alternatively, set your browser options to open PDFs with Adobe Reader, rather than the browser default.

Elaine Shallcross
Information Consultant, Schools of Law and Business