Information sources: Ebooks

Searching for ebooks

More and more of the ebooks you need for learning and research are being made available online. As well as our impressive print collection, we are committed to developing our online ebook library.

The information in this guide will detail our main ebook collections, how to find and use them, and point you towards some of the best places to get hold of free ebooks.

How do I search for ebooks?
If you're looking for a particular ebook, or want to search for ebooks by keyword, the easiest way to start your search is by using the Library search from the homepage:

  • From the Library Homepage, enter your keyword(s) in the 'Search All' box
  • On the results page, select ‘Book/eBook’ under Content Type
  • Select ‘Full Text Online’ under Refine your search

This will refine your search to books available online, ie ebooks

Like journals, ebooks come from many different publishers and the look and functionality can vary from publisher to publisher.

Some of our collections contain general content, often found on reading lists, and other are more subject orientated.

EbookCentral is by far the biggest general collection of ebooks at Brunel Library, with others available from VLE Ebooks and Ebscohost. All titles can be read online, and more and more are being made available to download.

It is also possible to find and access open textbooks to read online. Open textbooks are academic books that are published with an open copyright licence. This means they are free to read and use for your studies, and in future. You can find open textbooks by following the steps for searching for an ebook above, but adding the additional filter 'Open access' to ensure the book is freely available. 

Ebook Central

ProQuest Ebook Central provides access to several thousand authoritative ebooks covering a wide range of subjects. They can be read online and, where permitted, a section of the ebook may be downloaded. You will find many titles on Ebook Central have been included on reading lists and can be found in the Library collections by searching by title or keywords. You can also browse titles by searching the EbookCentral database

In some instances there may be a limited number of people who can access the book at the same time. This depends on the number of licences available. if you want to read online and you can't open the text, this means that the maximum number of readers has been reached. Just try again after a short time. 

Can I download books?
Most of the texts on EbookCentral are designed to be read online. However, you may also be able to down a chapter or portion of a book to keep and read offline. The allowance for what you can read and download should be displayed on the ebook's homepage.

Instructions for download might vary depending on your device. For guidance, see:

 What other reading options are there?

  • A great feature of Ebook Central books is the ability to search inside the text. Look for the spyglass icon or the Search box to search by keyword for important concepts, terms or authors in the book. 
  • You can print pages/a chapter, within Copyright Law. Look for the print icon just above the book cover and select your page range.
  • You can copy a limited portion of the text for notetaking. 
  • You can annotate the ebook with your own notes and highlights. To do this you need to sign in to your own account, but once you have done this the annotations will remain for your next reading session. 
  • You can add your favourite books to your own bookshelf for easy access. 

To help with reading online there are a few useful features. It is possible to amend the reading view to increase the size of font and layout of the page. You can change the language of the text to translate into eleven other languages in the Settings area. It is also possible to view the page as Text only, which will assist screen reading. For more information take a look at their accessibility statement


There are over 1,000 ebook titles in the VLeBooks collection (formerly this collection was hosted by Dawsonera which was bought by Askews and Holts) covering a wide range of subjects. They can be read online or downloaded for a short loan. Many of them are titles that have been included on reading lists. We recommend that you check if Adobe Reader is set to open content inside the browser so that you can read online. See the VLeBooks help page and LibAnswers for guidance if the ebook does not open correctly. Please note that VLeBooks uses digital rights management (DRM) software: you are advised to ensure you are using at least version 4.0.1 of Adobe Digital Editions when you read an e-book on your computer or portable device.

Artech Access

Provides access to 40 ebooks on electronic and computer engineering published by Artech House. 

The ebooks on this platform can be read online or downloaded if you have the appropriate software.

If you create an account on the platform you can also annotate and highlight the books while you study. 

Ebook collections

LibSmart Point

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Academic Liaison Librarians are available between 1pm-4pm, Monday to Friday term-time to discuss queries about using library resources and referencing.

Outside of these times, you can use the Library chat service and your query will be picked up by another member of Brunel Library staff or our friendly co-op support staff, who provide us with 24/7 chat coverage.

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Current status of Library services

You can check the current status of services managed by Brunel Library below. To view the status of services managed by the Computer Centre, please visit their service status page.



Free ebooks

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