Library Search Engine Frequently Asked Questions

What is this new search engine (OCtopus)?
What is the name of this new search engine?
Why did the Library choose this new search product?
Will this replace any existing library services?
Can I still go directly to a list of databases, or find a specific journal title?
What are the features?
What is and is not available in this search engine?
When should I use OCtopus versus other library resources?
How do I access & use OCtopus?
I am not an OC user, can I still use this service?
How does the OCtopus search experience differ from other EBSCOhost databases?
Can I search OCtopus using my mobile device?



OCtopus provides a single search box that allows users to simultaneously search for books, audio-visual materials, journal articles, journals, and other resources contained in many of the Library's databases. Results are returned in a single, relevancy ranked list of resources. See "How to Conduct a Search" for more information on conducting a successful search. OCtopus is also known as Ebsco Discovery Service (EDS).

Name the Library's new Search Engine Contest winner

Congratulations to the winner of our contest to name the new search engine! Jordan Bloomfield, an arts student from the Kelowna campus, submitted the name 'OCtopus' and received the most number of votes from the public. Jordan received a 2G iPod shuffle generously donated by EBSCO.

The need for a new search tool

The results of a 2009 Okanagan College Library usability study indicated students were looking for a single search box to find library resources. The Library has also been looking to provide improved access to our growing array of online and physical resources, and surface resources that users are often unable to find or that may be hidden. 

Rather than losing our users to Google and non-authoritative information sources, the Library required a single place for users to begin their research that was easy to use and returned reliable, relevant results. OCtopus is a great solution as it provides students with the ability to independently search across multiple databases and resource types simultaneously. 

Existing library services will remain in place 

This new search engine is considered an enhancement, not a replacement. Although the search engine is a great starting place for research, other library resources are still required to properly conduct research.

Accessing specific databases and journals

Databases are still accessible using the Library's electronic resource management (ERM) system. Databases can be found by subject, alphabetically, or by keyword search.

Electronic journals can be found using the Library's electronic journal listing, also known as CJDB.  Print journal holding information is available via the Library catalogue.

The ERM and CJDB are both managed using CUFTS open-source software. 

What features are available with this new search system?

  • Single search box access to the Library's entire collection
  • Simple and Advanced Search Screen options
  • Guided Style Advanced Search screen with drop-down list of fields to search for specific terms  
  • Result List limiters such as full-text, peer-reviewed, date, catalogue-only
  • Result list facets (subjects, sources, authors, and more)
  • To the right of the Result List, search/content expansion tools: related information, access to integrated search (EHIS) connectors, and widgets
  • "Available in OC Library" collection limiter
  • Detailed & robust metadata (e.g., author-supplied abstracts, keywords, subjects, etc.)
  • Complete indexing from EBSCOhost & non-EBSCOhost databases
  • Checkbox design that allows users to select multiple source types, clusters, and content providers/databases
  • Library catalogue integration with features that include real time availability checks, and location and call number information
  • Persistent Linking & Bookmarkable URLs
  • "Breadbox" tracking for easy removal of all refinements, including limiters and expanders
  • Book jacket images
  • Article-level linking using OC Library's link resolver
  • Citation formatting (including APA, MLA, etc.) assistance
  • Enhanced Relevancy Ranking
  • Librarian-staffed online chat reference service
  • Access to the Library's research & course guides
  • Compatable with most mobile devices

What is & is not indexed?

Most of the Library's databases and electronic journals are included in the base index of the search service. However, there are a select number of databases that are not included. These databases require you to search them individually, as you would have done prior to the introduction of the Library's search engine. 

Library databases that are not available in the Library search engine (OCtopus) include:

• CCH Online 
• CICA Standards and Guidance Collection (International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) & other Canadian accounting standards)
• e-CPS
• Literature Criticism Online
• Martin's Online Criminal Code (print version available in OCtopus results list)
• Passport GMID
• QuickLaw
• Sustainalytics
• Tax Suite Premium

When should I use OCtopus?

OCtopus2Use this search engine if:

  • You are unsure where to find information to meet your research needs
  • You are just beginning your research and want to assess the resources available on your topic
  • You want to find resources in a variety of formats (i.e. books and articles (print or electronic))
  • You are searching for articles on an interdisciplinary topic, where information could be found in a number of different databases
  • You are looking for an exact item based on elements of a citation (also known as a "known item search")
  • You are looking for materials available locally or at other libraries
  • A comprehensive article search is not required
  • You only need a few good journal references on your topic
  • When should I go directly into databases and the Library catalogue and not use OCtopus?

    When you find which databases include relevant information (browse the Content Provider list), you can then search these databases directly. If you are looking for information on a very specific topic, or a topic that is subject specific, it is recommended that you use databases that specialize in that subject area. 

    If you are only looking for books or media items, it is recommended you use solely the Library catalogue.

    Tip: As OCtopus does not cover all content the Library has access to, it is strongly recommended to use this tool as a research starting point. 

    Accessing & using OCtopus

    OCtopus can be accessed directly from the Library's home page. Enter your search terms into the box on the home page and hit "search". You will be taken into the search engine when your search results appear. You can also click here to access the search engine. 

     Conducting a search

    There are four key steps in conducting a successful search:

    1. Enter your search terms (this is also known as a "search query")

    On the Basic Search Screen, enter your search terms in the search box. Click Search. Click "Search Options" to access the Advanced Search screen.

    Tip: If you want to search for a phrase or exact string of words, enclose your words in "quotation marks". Use the radio buttons below the search box to conduct a Title or an Author search. Use any of the optional Limiters or Expanders by clicking the Search Options link that will open your choices (such as including only full text or peer-reviewed items).

    2.  Limit your results

    When you run a search, the search engine is returning results from many different databases, as well as the Library catalogue. The results list can be very large and overwhelming. Use the options on the left side of the results screen to limit and refine the results. You can click on a single limiter option

    Any limits you apply or have set will appear in the "bread bin" (near the search box) at the top of the left  column. An "x" is next to each limiter so it can be removed. 

    Tip: Limit or refine by: full text, scholarly/peer reviewed, resource types (such as Academic Journals, Books, News, Dissertations/Theses, etc.), subject (including Library of Congress Subject Headings), author,  publication (the journals in which the highest number of matching articles in the results list are found), location (for items in the Library catalogue), database (individual databases where information is being extracted from), date range, etc.

    3. View full records and full text documents

    Brief records are initially displayed on the first results page. These records will often provide you with enough information to assess whether you want to see more results or if you should refine or change your search. 

    If an item is available in full text you will see an HTML or PDF full text icon. Some full text results will have tools that enable you to listen to the text (automated speech-to-text) or to translate it (machine translation). 

    Tip: The Library may have full text access to articles not available within the search engine. To access articles that may be available in full text outside of this search service, use the link that reads "Where Can I Get This?". This link can either be found on the main results screen on an item's brief record, or on the left side of the screen in an item's detailed record.

    4. Find results from additional resources

    When you have reviewed the main results set, you can include data from databases that were not included in your initial results.

    Use the "Add Additional Databases" panel on the right side of the results page to include results from additional sources. 

    Tip: Mouse over the name of each additional database to see how many results it contains. Mouse over the talking bubble icon to view a description of the database. Mouse over the details link at the top of the panel to view a summary of the number of results found in each database. 

    OCtopusAccess privileges

    Current Okanagan College students and staff are permitted to use this search engine.

    If you are off-campus when you input your search terms and hit "search", or when you click a link to the search engine, you will be prompted to login using your OC student or employee number and your last name.

    If you are not an OC user there is one guest access slot available. Guest access permits searching but results may be limited. Full text article access for licensed databases is restricted to OC users. Guests will be able to obtain citation information for articles and library catalogue holdings information.

    Mobile access

    If you access OCtopus on your mobile device, it will automatically detect you as a mobile user. You also have the option of using a mobile app as well, instead of a mobile website.
    Can I search OCtopus with the EBSCOhost iPhone app?
    How do I download the EBSCOhost app for iPhone, iPod touch, and the iPad?
    EBSCOhost iPhone, iPod and iPad App


    What is the "Available in Library Collection" limiter?
    What is the Catalog Results Only limiter?
    How do I know which EBSCO database a result is from?
    How is relevency ranking determined?
    What content is included in the different resource types?

    OCtopus (EDS) User Guide (.doc)

    The following tutorial has been created to help guide you through the process of using this search engine and some of its features. If you have a suggestion for other tutorials or elements of the service you would like featured in a tutorial, please let us know.


    We want to know what you think of our new search engine! If there is something you cannot find, if you really like this new tool, or if you think there is something we are missing in this FAQ, please do not hesitate to contact us.