Finding Works

Use the library catalog

If you know the author’s name…

  • spell it carefully:  last name COMMA first name   (ex.: King, Stephen)
  • but click the PLUS sign to change your search to an “author” search.
  • Use the author’s name as a “keyword” instead to surface additional works such as short stories.
  • Re-set the search “location” to All “Arlington Public Schools” instead of just H-B Woodlawn in order to find books we can request from other school libraries.

An Author’s poems, essays or plays might be located in one of these Dewey Decimal Locations within the 800’s of our print collection; essays ABOUT the authors are found there, too:

  1. American Authors’ works include a focus on poems (811) essays (814) and full plays (812)
  2. Examine 820’s for poems, essays and plays by and about authors from England
  3. Examine the 830’s and upward for poetry, plays and essays originating in additional languages.
  4. The Proquest Ebook Central database has an “advanced search” feature that allows you to input the Dewey Decimal Number above to find anthologies.


Finding Short Stories in our library collection:

  1. If you move into H-B’s FICTION section, you can locate books and story collections by an author simply by looking for that author alphabetically.  The spine labels that start with SC indicate that the book is a story collection.
  2. Go to the library’s catalog.  A basic search for “short stories” provides a long list of our short story collections. The titles often include a theme.  Use “advanced search” and select the format “ebooks” if you want to narrow your list to electronic resources.
  3. An “Author” search in the library catalog will find even more, and you can search “All Arlington Public Schools” to arrange an inter-library loan.
  4. Do an “advanced search” in our library catalog to combine your search term (author or topic) AND “short stories”  for example:
    “Smith” AND “short stories”      –or–       “war” AND “short stories”
  5. In some cases, if you know the title of your short story, put it in quotation marks and search by TITLE in the library’s catalog.  You can find it in the Public Library’s catalog the same way.

Searching by theme:

  1. Be aware that there might be a variety of terms used for your theme, so try a number of them.  Example:  justice, crime, murder, punishment might all be helpful search terms. So be aware of “tags” used in databases and try that wording in your searchers.
  2. Enter a search term for your theme using the CAPITALIZED BOOLEAN OPERATOR AND to link your term to “fiction”
    Examples:  gender AND fiction         justice AND fiction
  3. After the catalog results show…Go to the top of the screen and click the PLUS SIGN.  This gives you a pop-up window to define your search more carefully, so examine all of the options.
  4. Search results in the library catalog also display “filters” on the left side of your screen help to narrow the results to specifically print vs. e-book results, for example.
  5. Trouble shooting: Too many results? This might work: Change the field of the search from KEYWORD to SUBJECT
  6. If you have a book on a theme that you love, look it up in the catalog.  Move into the details of the catalog record and click the “explore” tab to find tags.  Click the tag for your theme (note its wording for future use in search engines.) Remember to “clear all” on the advanced search settings or they might “stick” and unnecessarily limit future searches.

Databases for finding essays, poems and possibly short stories by an author:

  1. Gale Literature – this is our library’s largest database on literature with lit crit essays, biographies, book reviews, and even primary sources (short writings by the author.) Using the database gives you practice with college level resources and saves you time because you are inside a collection of CURATED resources with no time wasting click bait. Plus:
    • citations you can copy and paste
    • a persistent link (URL for the precise location of your document.)
    • Using ‘advanced search,’ you can do a PERSON search or a SUBJECT search (naming your topic/theme) and also apply the filter for Document type (dial up “poem” or “short story” if that’s what kind of material you want.)  Beware that you may find a review with that tag rather than the actual work. But try it.
    • In your search results, notice the filters on the right menu to filter your results further.  You can also apply the “search within” feature which will narrow your results even further.
  2. Proquest Ebook Central provides e-books that are anthologies when you conduct an advance search as pictured below.  You can narrow your results by applying the filters that appear at the lefts side of the results screen.

Proquest Ebook Central's search interface can dial the BISAC subject field search and apply "fiction / anthologies"

Online Sources of Poetry:

  1. If you search with a query “poet’s name” AND “poem,” it might produce hits that give you poetry that the poet has released from copyright restrictions.
  2. Poets and other writers often have their own official web sites where they share their work.

Learning about additional Books by an Author

  • Books and Authors is a GALE database and will thoroughly list all of the works published by an author.   (In 2024, we no longer subscribe. But the Public Library does.)
  • Wikipedia is often accurate for the same purpose, however the databases are enhanced with much more book detail, summaries, reviews, biographical information about the authors, and more, and the material is professionally researched and reviewed. Using the base of the Wikipedia page often links the researcher to primary sources and might land you at a university web site or author web site that houses an ample collection of the writer’s works.