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Search for a book in Primo

When finding a book in the library, it is best to start with Primo.

  • Open Primo
  • Type your title/subject in the search bar 
  • Select "Books, Journal Titles, etc." in the drop-down
  • Hit search

When you have found the book, pay attention to the bottom line of the listing. It will show:

  • Availability: where the item is available to borrow. If it is currently on loan, you may want to make a request.
  • Location: where the book is located.
  • Shelfmark: Make a note of the full shelfmark, including the letters, in order to find it in the shelves.

Navigate the library using the signage on the ends of each shelf. The shelfmark is labelled on the spine of the book.

Use the self-issue machines to check out the book. The borrowed books is now visible on your library account. You can check from here when the item is due to be returned.

Search Scopes

Search scopes are located in the the search bar and filter the search results. Here's a breakdown of what each one will deliver:

Quick Search The default search scope on Primo and does exactly as it says: it does a quick scan of the library's collections, including most of our subscribed content
Books, Journal Titles, etc. Provides results that are print books, eBooks, print journals and eJournals.
Articles This searches inside the majority of eJournals that the library subscribes to.
Plymouth Research Outputs and Theses Use this option to search through University of Plymouth research that has been deposited into our PEARL repository, such as theses, articles, dissertations, book chapters and datasets.
School Experience Collection Provides items from the School Experience Collection only; junior fiction ans non-fiction books, as well as resources for teacher training. These items are located on Level 2 of the library.
Special Collections Use this option to search through Special Collections' items, including rare books, artists' books, rare journals and zines. These items are largely located on Level 3 and are not available for loan. An induction to the Special Collections is required to access.
Plymouth LabPlus Search through Plymouth LabPlus collections. These collections consist of a variety of resources to support subject areas including Geography, Geology, Chemistry, Marine Biology, Engineering and more. These items are located on campus in the Davy building.

Primo Records

For further information on exporting records for referencing, please visit the Endnote guide

Applying Filters

Refine your search results using filters to see more relevant items. Start by conducting a search in Primo. On the results page, you can refine the results using the filters on the left hand side.

Sort by

This doesn't refine the results, but changes the order they are displayed. You can choose by relevance, date, author and title.


In this section, you can refine by its availability status for both phsyical and digital items. Check the tick box on the left to include filters in the search. You can click multiple filters for further refinement.

Resource Type

This section lists the formats the search results are available in. Exclude items by clicking the res box icon ro the right of the filter. Again, multiple filters can be applied in this section.


If you are looking for items published in a particular time frame, check the date filter box and type in the desired dates.

Select the desired filters by hitting the Apply button. The results will then be refined and you can see how many search results you have by checking the number above the search results. If you change your mind and no longer want some filters, they can be removed under the active filters section. You can remove all of the active filters by clicking the reset filters button.

Advanced Search

Click on "Add search term" next to the search bar to start an advanced search.

An advanced search gives you more options to filter and refine a simple search. You can select a search scope (see the Search Scopes slideshow on the Searching Essentials page for more information on these). 

In "any field", you can select whether you want to filter to a title, author/creator, or a subject. Next to that, you can select whether you are looking for items that contain, are, or start with whatever is typed into the search line.

You can add multiple search lines by clicking "add a new line".

On the right, you can select what material type you are looking for.

You can also select a start date and end date to the resources you are looking for. This is useful if you are looking for items published within a particular time frame.

Saving Records

Saving records is a great way to revisit items of interest and organise your research.

Start by signing in. Find a record you want to save by conducting a search on Primo. Once you've found a record you want to save, click the pin icon opposite the title. To view all saved records, click the pin icon in the top right corner of the screen. 

You can organise your saved records by adding labels. To do this, click "add labels" under the chosen record. Labels you have made before will appear. Select one of these or create a new label. To add and edit labels, click the pencil icon. Add a new label by selecting the option at the bottom. You can label saved records however you choose. All labels are listed to the right of the records. Selecting a label will bring up saved records with that label. You can view multiple labels at once by clicking on another label. View all saved records again by clicking "clear selection". Remove items from saved records by clicking on the unpin icon.

Saving Searches

To start saving your searches, log in to your account on Primo, then start your search. Above the results, click "save query" and the search will be saved to your favourites.

Click the pin in the upper right hand corner to see your favourites. The favourites page lists your saved records, saved searches and your most recent search history.

You can set alerts for a search by clicking on the bell icon, next to the relevant search item on the saved searches page. This sends notification emails to your account when new items in the catalogue match your search.

By clicking on search history, you can see your recent searches, which can be saved to saved searches by clicking on the pin icon.

Remove searches by clicking the bin icon.

Can't see what you're looking for?

Searches in Primo are set to only include full-text items by default. Full-text means you can access the full item online. You can include non full-text items by clicking the tick box in the "refine search" bar once you've made a search.

If the library does not have access to the item you are looking for, you can request an Inter Library Loan.