How can I find foreign language materials in the library?

There are several strategies for finding books, DVDs, articles, or other materials on a topic in a foreign language.

A couple of basic tips:

  1. When you conduct your search, look to see if you can limit by language either before or after you search.  For example, databases searched in the EBSCO interface must have the limit by language set prior to searching.  Most other databases will allow you to search first, and then limit by language.
  2. Conduct your search in both English and in the language in which you want the materials.

Following are some examples using various databases.

Using Summon@DU, type in your English keywords, and then limit by language.  Unfortunately, as you can see in the results for a search on “dirty war,” the language facet in Summon@DU isn’t always completely accurate, so evaluate results carefully.

Next, search Summon@DU for your keywords in Spanish, which should retrieve mainly results in Spanish.  If you wish to focus on this topic for a particular country, add the name of that country, and if you wish to retrieve just peer-reveiwed articles, select that option in the facets to the left:

If you wish to find books and DVDs on immigration into Italy in Italian, try searching the Library Catalog.  Type your keywords into the search box…

…and on the results page, click on Italian in the facets menu to the left:

You can further limit this search by clicking on DVD/Videos on the facets menu.

If you wish to find everything we have in Japanese in the library, use the “Classic Catalog Advanced Search” option – the link is located below the Library Catalog search box.

On the following page, type one asterisk (*) into the first search box, and change the language drop down menu to Japanese, and click on the “Search” button.

You will retrieve items that have all or part of the content in Japanese:

For more tips about searching for materials in foreign languages, contact the Research Center at

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