Skip to main content
Scholars Portal logo

ACE (Accessible Content E-Portal)

ACE is a new service from Scholars Portal, which supports students with print disabilities at participating universities in Ontario by providing access to library books in five different accessible formats through an online platform.

Searching & browsing

This page describes how to search or browse ACE to find accessible books. Please use the links below to jump to a particular section, or browse them all by scrolling further.

Simple searching

When you first start searching ACE we generally recommend you simply enter your terms and press Search, without changing any of the other options. We have found the default search settings provide the best results in the majority of situations.

By default, you will be searching for your terms in every possible field, you will only see books that you have full text access to through your university, and your search results will be ordered by their relevance.

Screenshot highlighting the ACE Portal search feature

Useful tips: the search feature has some known limitations. For example, it does not always handle long search strings, punctuation symbols and special characters, or words with foreign characters very well. It also does not catch spelling errors. If you are having trouble finding a book you know is available in the ACE collection, or using the search feature in general, please try the following suggestions:

  • Check your spelling to make sure you have entered your terms correctly
  • Shorten your search string (e.g. search for only part a title, or only an author's last name)
  • Remove any special characters (e.g. remove a colon or an ampersand, or omit words with accents entirely)
  • Search another way (e.g. search for an author name instead of a title)

Advanced searching

Sometimes you need to use more sophisticated tools to find what you need. This section describes some of the advanced search features available in ACE.

Specifying search fields

By default, when you search ACE you will be searching All Fields for the terms you entered. Sometimes, you may not want to search all fields. For example, if you are looking for books written by Barack Obama, searching all fields might give you too many results with books written about Obama instead.

ACE allows you to specify which field to search. In addition to the All Fields option, you can limit searching to the following fields: Subject, Title, Author, Publisher, ISBN, Publication Year, Language, or LC Call Number.

Screenshot showing the drop-down menu listing specific search fields

Useful tips: ACE is still fairly new, so the collection is much smaller than most library catalogues or databases. We generally do not recommend starting off with a very specific search. Try a general search of all fields first. If you are getting too many results, then try specifying a search field. Otherwise you might eliminate useful results too early in your search, and end up missing books that might be valuable.

Sorting your results

By default, your search results will be ordered by their relevance. However, you can choose to sort your results by Date Ascending, Date Descending, or Title instead.

Screenshot showing the drop-down menu options available for sorting search results

Although you can choose how you want to sort your results before your search, you can also sort them afterwards. When you perform a search, ACE will keep your search terms in the search field above your results. If you want to change how you've sorted your results, simply click the drop-down menu, choose your desired sort option, and press Search again to resort your results.

Screenshot of ACE Portal demonstrating how to resort search results

Toggling full text

By default, your search results will only include books which you have full text access to through your university. The ACE collection contains accessible books from many universities across Ontario, but you will only be able download the full text copy of books that your university owns in print (see FAQs for more information).

Sometimes, you may be curious to know what other books are available in the collection, even though you won't be able to access their full text. To search all the books available in the ACE collection, simply uncheck the Show only content I can access checkbox before pressing Search.

Screenshot showing checkbox to toggle searching for only books available in full text

If you find a book in ACE that you can't access, first make sure you have not accidentally logged out. If you still cannot access the book, but you think your university owns the book in print, get in touch with your local ACE coordinator to confirm if your university is eligible for access to the book. If it is, we can grant you access quickly. Please read the FAQs for more information and instructions.

Using boolean operators

It is also possible to search the ACE collection using advanced boolean operators like AND, OR, and NOT. Boolean operators allow you to run more nuanced searches and control your results.

To use boolean operators in your search, click the small plus sign icon on the right-hand side of the search field. This will add a new row to your search, where you can select your desired boolean operator from the drop-down menu. Rows may continue to be added or removed as needed using the small plus or minus sign icons on the right-hand side of each row.

Screenshot demonstrating how to add boolean search operators

Useful tips: you must add rows to run boolean searches. If you type any boolean operators directly into the search field, the search feature will not recognize them as operators and will treat them like regular search terms instead.

Refining your search

Once you have run a search, you may find you need to refine it further to narrow down the results. ACE provides a series of facets on the right-hand side to let you refine your search. The available facets include: LC Call Number, Author, Series, Type, and Language.

Screenshot highlighting the facets feature for refining searches

Under each facet heading, a series of refinement links will be provided. The number in brackets at the end of each link indicates how many results are available with each possible refinement. Simply click on a link to refine your search. You can repeat this process as many times as you wish, so long as further refinements are available.

Screenshot demonstrating how to refine your search

Once you have refined your search, your selected refinements will be listed under Applied Limits, above the list of remaining refinements. You can remove any refinements you no longer want by clicking the small minus icon to the right of the refinement.

Screenshot highlighting list of applied limits

Useful tips: please remember that these facets only allow you to refine your original search results. If you want to clear your results and start a whole new search, go back to the main search field and type in new search terms.

Browsing the collection

Sometimes, you may wish to browse through the collection to discover books you might want to use. Below we have offered two suggestions to help you browse.

Viewing the entire collection

If you want to view all the books available in ACE, simply leave the search field empty and press Search. (You can choose to check or uncheck the Show only content I can access box, depending on whether you want to see all the books in the collection, or only those which you can access in full text.)

Screenshot demonstrating an empty search, to list all books in the collection

This easy trick allows you to skip entering specific search terms, so you can use the facets on the right-hand side to browse through the entire collection instead.

In addition to all the search and refinement features, ACE also includes a number of hyperlinked fields that allow you to browse through the collection in other ways.

For example, if you are viewing a particular book in the collection, you will notice that you can click on the author's name (near the top of the page) to view a list of all other books in the ACE collection written by that author. Other links that facilitate browsing can be found under the About this book heading on the right-hand side, which allow you to see other books that are part of the same series or about the same topic.

Screenshot highlighting browsable links in the ACE Portal interface

Useful tips: sometimes information about a book's topic or series is not available or applicable, so these links will not be provided. Also, please note that author names may not be standardized across the collection, so if you want to be sure you have found every available book by a particular author, make sure you run a fresh search instead. Browsable links are provided to facilitate convenience and discovery, but they are not necessarily the most rigorous way to search the collection.