Advanced search

What is Summon Search?


Venn diagram-type illustration of Summon; the Wright Library catalog and Princeton Seminary digital collections circles are inside the Summon circle, articles are partially inside, and Princeton University catalog is outside

The power behind the large search box on the library website is Summon, a kind of search engine for research materials. The massive Summon Index contains billions of item records.

Summon Demos

We regularly add our Digital Collections and library catalog item records to Summon, to make those materials discoverable alongside subscription e-resources made accessible to you by the library.*

Use Summon to discover:

  • full-text articles
  • (e-)books & (e-)journals
  • conference proceedings
  • theses & dissertations
  • video & audio recordings
  • images
  • manuscripts
  • maps

*The "Add results beyond your library's collection" checkbox expands search results even further.

Quick Tips

  • Instead of pasting a whole article citation into the search box, try doing an advanced search. Here's an example of an advanced search for a specific article in a particular journal:
screenshot of an advanced search for "Ecofeminism and Christian Theology" in All Fields and "Furrow" in the publication title field
  • If you're looking for a book chapter and can't find it, try looking up the book title. There may be a print copy waiting for you in the library!

Summon and the Library Catalog

There may still be times in your work when searching the library catalog* directly will be the better option for starting (or continuing) your research. We are always working to improve all search and discovery tools.

*What is a library catalog?

Some advantages…

Search results include many kinds of sources: books, journal articles, newspaper articles, conference proceedings, dissertations, photos, and other materials, along with database recommendations and more

Quickly narrow results by using the facets: content type, library location, subject terms, publication date, language, etc.

Limit search results to scholarly or peer-reviewed sources with one click

View, email, print or export citations from your search results in a variety of formats

…and a few caveats

Summon includes many, many resources, but not everything to which Wright Library subscribes.** Use the Databases (A-Z) list to locate and search within a specific database.

Too many results? Vague or short searches will return too many results; searches using well-refined search terms or phrases in quotes will return fewer, more refined results. To conduct a more specific search – such as for a particular book or article – use the advanced search options.

**Why aren’t all available resources included in Summon? Some publishers/vendors choose not to allow their content to be indexed and included in this search tool, whether for technological or other reasons.

Enhancements and Known Issues


  • Expand your search with the "Include matches in Full Text" (different from Full Text Online option, which narrows your search) and/or the "Add results beyond your library's collection" refinements
  • Limit your Summon search results to print books using the "Physical Books in Library Catalog" option under Refine Your Search on the results page
  • Options button in the search bar takes you to the Advanced Search screen
  • Sort results by Title, Author, Date or Relevance
  • Search for authors or co-authors by ORCIDs. Search by field using “ORCID:0000-0000-XXXX-XXXX”
  • Citation Trails: Search results now (often) include cites/cited by articles. Explore a topic and collect material by following a chain of articles that cite each other.
  • "New Search" and "x" buttons clear the search box
  • Search buttons and "Clear form" links at both top and bottom of the Advanced Search screen
  • Improved handling of complete citation searches
  • "Open Access" refinement
  • Related Articles: Some search results include recommendations from bX Recommender
  • Language drop down menu for selecting user interface language
  • Persistent URLs: Copy or bookmark links from Summon
  • Results are numbered to help you keep track of where you are in the results set.
  • Accessibility: Labels have been added to the search landing page and main page search boxes, and the date picker has been upgraded.
  • Sidebar on the right (desktop view) hosts links to Summon training videos, Library feedback and suggestions form, and the Library's most recent tweets

Known Issues

  • Full citation searches tend not to work; try the Advanced Search, entering the info from the citation into specific fields (See Quick Tips above, and Summon Searching: Beyond the Basics)
  • Some databases may be missing from the Database facet. Visit for a full A-Z list of databases.
  • Broken links/dead ends: Occasionally, the path between an item in the search results list and the citation or full text doesn’t work properly. If this happens, please let us know – either by using the "Report a problem" link within Summon or by emailing libweb [at] ptsem [dot] edu. Tell us what you were looking for and what happened; please be as detailed and specific as possible. Thank you!
  • The real time availability display in search results seems to be lost from time to time. Most books in the library catalog can be checked out. Click the "Check Availability" link in the search result to view the full details.
  • The pages of the library website ( are not able to be indexed (unfortunately). Select pages are being included as "Best Bets," a feature similar to the Database Recommendations you may have seen in Summon.


Want to embed a Summon Search widget or search box on your own website? Visit and click on Search Widget or Search Box Builder to get started.


Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License from Virginia Tech Libraries.