Why doesn’t BobCat or ProQuest work like Google?

Librarians and professors suggest you start your research process from the library’s website because of filtering (described in our previous post). The librarians collect scholarly (peer-reviewed) material. That doesn’t mean every book on the shelf is perfect. Some may have been retracted or disproven yet remain part of a historical record. Recent examples are Frey’s A Million Little Pieces or when Krakauer disproved Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea

                                             Information surrounding us (~6 min)As a scholar yourself, in order to build your own ideas, part of your work is to double-check, verify, or cross-reference what others have said or written about the documents you are reading and citing . Who knows? You may find the first voice announcing major errors identified through new techniques or new information.

I–perhaps oddly–prefer the deliberate search bars of ProQuest and BobCat. Filters (usually on the left of the screen in a results page) are explicit and focus a broadsearch into something more specific to your needs. Unlike Google, typing more words into BobCat’s or ProQuest’s search bars will not help you. Start with two words then use the filters.Check in with a librarian. We can share screens with you in chat at Ask a Librarian{point out the contact us feature at the bottom of wechat? Or add a screen clip of the “Chat with us” from the library homepage}. If you have time, ask for instructions on how to run the search or select the filters yourself.

Why not just use Google?

When you’ve searched Google for a book, has Google ever suggested, “Go to your local library”?


The cover of the book "Invisible Women"

Imagining this is the book you are looking for. You typed the name in and the result is like this:

A screenshot of the results of searching the book, Invisible Women, on Google

But none of these results will tell you that your Library already has it

Part of that is on us, librarians: we haven’t opened our data and we are working on that. But it’s also because we (libraries) don’t pay Google to promote us. No one really knows Google’s algorithm, so it is hard to guess what sources it isn’t showing you 

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What’s the big deal about sources and references?

Twenty years ago, a scholarly source was clearly different from everything else. Very little was online yet, but many voices were unjustly ignored. 

If you look at newspapers, magazines, or pulp novels, these are meant for daily consumption by anyone. Others, like scholarly journals or books (from novels to dictionaries), take years (decades!) and dozens (hundreds!) of hands. You can feel the effort of editors, authors, and artists. 

Huazi Ribao Newspaper Issue

Huazi Ribao Newspaper Issue

The amount of time, wisdom, and energy invested establishes some of the credibility in dictionaries, encyclopedia, or university press books. This is harder to see today when dictionaries or encyclopedia (whether Wikipedia or Britannica) all look pretty much the same as blogs on your phone or laptop. 

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography volumes

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography volumes

Take the time to learn about the author and publisher. It is a necessary step. Is this subject their specialty? That way you don’t cite someone who has been discredited in the field. Or perhaps you find an authentic voice who merits greater respect. 

Samuel P Massie academic gown

Samuel P Massie academic gown

Three quarter length portrait of Miss Kate Violet Edgerley in academic cap and gown standing

Three quarter length portrait of Miss Kate Violet Edgerley in academic cap and gown standing

You may not have to do this every time. You will start to recognize names in your discipline from your assignments and readings. 

How to access full text articles, streaming films, and ebooks

You may feel frustrated searching Google after finding paywalls or questionable statements. The library has purchased many subscriptions to research, books, and film which may reveal this locked content.  Unfortunately, you have to start from inside the library pages, logged in with you NYU NetID, for the subscriptions to recognize you are connected to our subscriptions.  Let’s see how to do that.

Whenever you have any difficulties with these steps, check Ask-A-Librarian.  You can chat with us across the globe, check if the connections are working, or share screens to see what is happening.

Step 1: Open NYU Shanghai Library Website: https://shanghai.nyu.edu/academics/library                                                                 Step 2: Click the “Articles & Databases” tab

Yellow box highlights second tab from left to open the "Articles and Databases" search box.

Articles and Databases tab on library’s homepage

Step 3: Locate “Content-Specific” databases

Yellow arrow indicates highlighted box of links to content-specific collections.

Highlight the location of Content-specific links

Step 4: Access “Ebook Collections”, “Video Collections” and more

Highlight bars indicate the location to open, in order, the Ebook Collections, the News and Newspapers Collections, and Video Collections, amongst other content-specific database collections.

Location for Ebook, Newspapers, and Video collections

Step 5: Explore our content-specific collections based on your own research needs

  • Ebooks

    Two yellow arrows and highlight boxes indicate "Core Ebook Collections" and "A-Z list of ebook collections"

    Ebook collection webpage

  • Video

    Yellow arrow and highlight bar indicate 91 video databases and a button to remove this filter

    Video Collections webpage

  • News & Newspapers

    Website collection for newspapers with highlighted sections and arrows

    Newspaper collections webpage

Accessing NYU Resources from Off-Campus

Who is eligible for off-campus access?

Our electronic resource license agreements restrict access to current NYU faculty, staff, and students enrolled in degree or diploma programs. 

How do I access databases from off-campus?


To access NYU license electronic resources from off-campus, you need to be routed through the Libraries’ proxy server called EZProxy, so that you can be authenticated after providing your NYU NetID and password.

There are three ways to reach resources through the EZProxy

  • Proxy bookmarklet
    To install the bookmarklet, please refer to  this page for the instructions

2)Virtual Private Network (VPN)

NYUSH users may optionally log in through VPN to access library resources from off-campus.

Having trouble accessing library resources off-campus?

  1. Check if you are using non-NYU VPN
  2. Activate your NetID
  3. Try another browser or clear your Web browser cookies before you try again
  4. Contact library staff for assistance

Content-Specific Databases: Ebooks, Videos, and More

NYU Shanghai Library provides great resources for ebooks, videos and news. They can be easily accessible through the main website and in a few steps. 

Step 1: Open NYU Shanghai Library Website:


Step 2: Click the “Articles & Databases” tab

Step 3: Locate “Content-Specific” databases

Step 4: Access “Ebook Collections”, “Video Collections” and more

Step 5: Explore our content-specific collections based on your own research needs

  • Ebooks

  • Videos

  • News & Newspapers

Language and Identity

This month, NYU Shanghai welcomes guests who will explore issues in Language & Identity, including a film screening of Talking Black in America on February 22nd, and a panel discussion on February 27th that investigates the relationship between language and our collective and personal identities.

Are you intrigued by these topics or looking for more reading, including fiction and memoir? Check out these books from NYU:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Check it out!

Native Speaker
Chang-Rae Lee

Check it out!

Typical American
Gish Jen

Check it out!

Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language
Eva Hoffmann

Check it out!

French Lessons: A Memoir
Alice Yaeger Kaplan

Available as an ebook

Hunger of Memory
Richard Rodriguez

Request it!

How the García girls lost their accents
Julia Alvarez

Request it!

When I was Puerto Rican
Esmeralda Santiago

Request it!

Chinese Englishes: A Sociolinguistic History
Kingsley Bolton

Request it!

Dialects at School: Educating Linguistically Diverse Students
Jeffrey Reaser, Carolyn Temple Adger, Walt Wolfram, Donna Christian

Available as an ebook

China and English Globalisation and the Dilemmas of Identity
Joseph Lo Bianco, Jane Orton, Gao Yihong

Available as an ebook

Don’t forget about our scholarly journals! Keep up with recent research trends in journals like these:

NYU Shanghai Special Collection Website Has Launched

Thanks to the Library Archive Working Group, we are glad to invite you to explore our newly built website of the NYU Shanghai Special Collection.
cr: https://tenor.com/view/despicable-me-minions-funny-lol-gif-3410946
The Special Collection will continuously focus on archiving materials unique to NYU Shanghai community.  The records (posters and video recordings) of previous events held in NYUShanghai are currently available on the Special Collection website.
Besides, the working group is collecting the materials related to the University history currently. We are also open to the discussions on donating other related materials.
* Please note the website is only accessible on campus or via VPN off-campus.For any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact shanghai.lib.archive@nyu.edu.

The NYUSH Special Collection Guide Video highlights the general practices of using the website.