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.

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