bonnus - discovery service Bonn University

Help and frequently asked questions concerning bonnus

bonnus - discovery service Bonn University

bonnus is the main research tool for literature searches at Bonn University. The aim is to offer a uniform, single and central search interface for books, research papers, journals and internet resources.

The search portal displays the usual catalogue data, as for instance books and journals, but also the content of works and possibly the electronic fulltext (journal articles, book chapters or book reviews). Furthermore, bonnus provides access to numerous bibliographic references. The availability has to be checked on a case-by-case basis. The first piece of information concerning the availability is given in the list of search results and the respective status display of a title.

Further information, also about the technical background of the search portal, can be found in the bonnusBlog (in german).
If you have any questions or suggestions, please use the green feedback button on the left-hand side of the screen.


Help » Contents and Accessibility

The search portal displays the usual catalogue data as, for instance, books and journals, but also the contents of works and possibly the electronic fulltext (journal articles, book chapters or book reviews). Furthermore, bonnus provides access to numerous bibliographic references. The availability has to be checked on a case-by-case basis. If you consider to only search for documents that are available in Bonn, you can limit your search by using the filter “Fulltext + Libraries Uni Bonn”.

Graphic description of the content and a possible search path in bonnus.

The index is composed of the holdings data of Bonn University on the one hand, and other bibliographic data supplied by numerous different database providers on the other hand, as, for instance, Web of Science, MLA, PsycArticles or Grove Art. Bonnus makes no claims to completeness.

Bonnus offers a comprehensive database and is a good starting point for a search. In order to perform a thorough thematic search, it is recommended to use the specialised databases (in german) after a search in bonnus. The differentiated search possibilities within a database often lead to further qualitatively good results.

Access possibilities

Bonnus displays electronic fulltexts from licensed resources as well as open access resources. Open access resources can be accessed without restriction. Licensed resources are restricted in access and can only be used by specific users. For more detailed information on licensed electronic media, persons authorised to access and the technical requirements, please visit our website Digital Resources.


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Help » Basic search

The basic search merely consists of a search box as, for instance, can be seen on the cover page of Bonn University and State Library homepage. Within bonnus, the search box can be found above the hit result list or the detailed record view so that you can adjust or specify your search or start a new query at any time. Suchschlitz für eine einfache Suche

By default, you search all fields when using the basic search. A drop-down menu of choices allows you to point your search in specific directions. You can enter several terms which are automatically linked by ‘AND’. An ‘AND’ search will give you search results that include all of your mentioned search terms. In order to use an ‘OR’ operation you need to select advanced search with its search operators (so-called Boolean operators).

For your basic search it is useful to note that choosing the right search terms is essential. If you are not sure how to spell a term or wish to search broadly you can use truncation.

You did not receive your search result? A typing error may have occurred. Look closely at your search terms.
You cannot detect an error? You can specify your search by conducting an advanced search query.

Further tips on literature review can be found on our website (in german).

Search criteria of the basic search option

Search criterionYou are searching in/for
All Fields All searchable fields (criteria) will be taken into account for the result.
Name (Author, Editor, ...)Name of a person or institution (for example author, editor, institution,…)
TitleWords that appear in the title spaces (title, subtitle, parallel title,…)
Shelf markThis mark indicates the location of an item in a library (of Bonn University) and consists of a sequence of letters and/or numbers.
Not to be confused with a notation!
ISBNInternational Standard Book Number
ISSNInternational Standard Serial Number assigned to serial publications
Subject headingstandardised terms assigned to describe the content of a document; With these you can carry out a thematic search.
PublisherName of a publisher

Further search criteria are offered in the advance search. These criteria can be combined and/or excluded.


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Help » Advanced search

Advanced search will allow you to specify your search according to certain criteria. The search criteria are arbitrarily combinable using search operators or you can exclude specific keywords. You can add further search criteria at any time. If you are not sure how to spell a term or wish to search broadly you can use truncation.

Further tips on literature review can be found on our website (in german).

Search criteria of the advanced search option

Search criterionYou are searching in/for
All Fields All searchable fields (criteria) will be taken into account for the result.
Name (Author, Editor, ...)Name of a person or institution (for example author, editor, institution,…)
Author only A specific search in the field author;
With this search criterion, additional name fields such as editor or contributing persons will not be taken into account for the search. This search criterion is recommendable, if you are absolutely certain of the author or if you wish to exclude an author’s name from your search, such as, for example, when carrying out a search for secondary literature.
TitleWords that appear in the title spaces (title, subtitle, parallel title,…)
Shelf markThis mark indicates the location of an item in a library (of Bonn University) and consists of a sequence of letters and/or numbers.
Not to be confused with a notation!
ISBNInternational Standard Book Number
ISSNInternational Standard Serial Number assigned to serial publications
Subject headingstandardised terms assigned to describe the content of a document; With these you can carry out a thematic search.
PublisherName of publisher
Year Year of publication
ULB notation Generally, notations are a combination of numbers and letters in a thematic classification system. A notation denotes a specific subject area within the hierarchical structure. You can use notations to browse by subject.

The ULB classification (in german) system has especially been developed for the ULB. Until 2010, about 700.000 titles have been completely systemised and from 2011 onwards in shortened form by using notations according to subject. Information (in german) on the ULB classification system and searching for individual notations can be found in the information section on the usage of the systematic search.

RVK notation The RVK is a widespread classification system and is used by numerous institutes at Bonn University.
MSC notation The MSC is a classification system for mathematics and is applied in the Department Library of Mathematics.
DDC-notation The DDC is a classification system from the Anglo – American area and is used in several institutes at Bonn University.
Other notations With the search criterion “other notations“ all of the remaining notations of Bonn University institutes are searched, that do not use one of the other classification systems.
Dissertation A standardised search criterion allowing a precise search for (Bonn) dissertations.

In order to search by dissertation, enter in the following order: place, univ., diss., year Example: Bonn, Univ., Diss., 2015.
You can also combine this field with further search terms and search criteria.

In order to search for a dissertation of other universities, enter Diss., a year and the place of the other University in the field with the search criterion “dissertation”.

If you are looking for dissertations in general, exclusively enter Diss in the search criterion field “dissertation”.

If you search for dissertations in general, you can also limit your result after submitting a search query by using the filter Format “dissertation” on the right-hand side of the results list.

Copy-specific notes You can view the detailed information with this search criterion contained in the copy-specific notes. The data includes information on the provenance of a copy. You can find corresponding titles by entering the term provenance. If you for example enter provenance: Mitterwallner bonnus will list titles recorded as provenance of the person Mitterwallner.
Media NumberThis search criterion is only relevant for staff. Number of an individual item.
Catalogue IDOnly relevant for staff!
This field is for the Katkey search in SISIS. The Aleph HT – number can be searched by selecting the “All Fields” criterion and has to be entered precisely.

Search operators and search groups

A search operator, also known as „Boolean operator“, allows logical relationships between individual search terms or search groups. These operators are AND, OR, AND NOT. The advanced search in bonnus enables the usage of these operators. The search operators cannot be directly entered in the search fields. You can enter the terms “and, or, and not” in the search fields with your search terms, but then they will be considered as individual search terms and do not function as operators.

The AND operator is preset per default within the advanced search. The AND and OR operators can be specifically selected in the respective drop-down menu.
In order to use the AND NOT search operator, you need to click on the button “exclude search terms”. This will automatically preset the necessary search group with the relevant search operators. You can then enter your search terms taking the individual search criteria into account and submit the search.

The AND operator

All search terms are linked with AND by default. This applies to the terms within the search field as well as the search fields amongst themselves. A search with the AND operator will return hits which include all of the search terms.


You intend to search for a work by Mr Schmidt with the term democracy in its title.

A search with Schmidt in the search field name AND with Democracy in the search field Title returns hits that contain both search terms in the respective fields.

Graphic representation of the individual search groups with search terms and their combination using the AND operator, as well as the search result.

The OR operator

With the advanced search you can combine multiple search criteria by using the OR operator. This will extend your search result. This search will return documents that contain at least one of the entered search terms.


You are not sure about the spelling of the name Schmidt. The name could also be spelled with two Ts. A search with Schmidt in one search field Name and Schmitt in an additional search field Name results in hits that contain one of the two desired names and hits that include both forms of the name.

Graphic representation of the individual search groups with search terms  and their combination using the OR operator, as well as the search result.

The AND NOT operator

You can also exclude terms from the result. A Click on “exclude search terms” opens up a second search group. In the first search group you enter your search terms. In the second search group you enter the terms that you want to exclude from the result.


The author Schmidt published a new work containing the word democracy in its title. You do not wish to search for the work itself, but would like to inform yourself about his work by means of a book review.

In the first search group the word democracy with the search criterion title and the term Schmidt using all fields will be searched. A click on “exclude search terms” will open a second search group. Schmidt, as an author of the work you are looking for, will then be excluded. Hits containing the term democracy and also the term Schmidt will be found. However, all hits where Schmidt himself is the author are excluded from your search.

Screenshot displaying an advanced search with two search groups and the 'exclude search terms' option. Graphic representation of the individual search groups with search terms and  their combination  using the search operators AND NOT, as well as  the search result.

Several search groups

You can formulate complex search queries by adding additional search groups. The individual search groups can be again linked with the search operators AND and OR.


You are searching for a work by Mr Schmidt which contains the term democracy in the title. You are not sure about the spelling of the surname – it could also be spelled Schmitt.

Search for the title word democracy in the first search group and add a second search group.
The second search group will search for the name Schmidt OR the name Schmitt. Both search groups are linked by AND. Hits are returned containing the word democracy in the title and additionally the name Schmidt or the name Schmitt (or both variants).

Screenshot of an advanced search with two search groups. Graphic representation of individual search groups with search terms and their combination using the search operators AND OR, as well as the search result.


Using a truncation will abbreviate the search term with a defined character and will enlarge the search field. Truncations are helpful when you are not sure how to spell a search term or if you would like to conduct a thematic search.

You can replace an unlimited number of characters in bonnus by using the truncation represented by an asterisk * and you can use the wildcard represented by the questionmark ? to stand in for a single character. All alternative word endings will be searched.


A search with democra* will find democrat, democracy, democratization, democratizing and democratic.

The truncation can also be placed in the middle of a term.


A search with schmi*t will find Schmidt, Schmitt oder Schmied.

The questionmark ? stands in for a single character.


A search with schmi?t will find Schmidt or Schmitt.

A combination of the different truncations is possible. Thus, alternative spellings can be searched, which possibly retrieve language variations as a result.


A search with Ph?nomenolo* will find results phenomenology, phenomenological oder Phänomenologie.


A so-called left-truncation is generally possible but not recommended.


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Help » Results list

The results list displays all documents that apply to your search query. For the direct overview, each individual document is assigned a status. This status gives you information on how to get hold of the individual titles, as not all of the hits are located in Bonn. Above the results list is a search box, which matches the basic search one. Here you can edit and refine your search at any time or start a new search. You can also check the search terms you have used and how you have used them. Additional filter options can be found on the right-hand side screen in order to individually limit your search even further.

Ranking and sorting

By default, the found documents are sorted according to relevance. Usually, the precise hits containing your search terms are at the Back to top of the list. Due to the relevancy ranking, results may be displayed where it is not immediately evident as to why they appear in the results list. In these cases, your search terms were detected in the contents of the document (indexed contents). You can adjust your results list at any time using the filter options. Image of the ‘sort‘ options menu
The relevant information should usually appear within the first hits of your results list. If this is not the case, please check that your search terms do not contain any typing errors or use alternative search terms. Otherwise the information is in fact not included in bonnus and it is recommended to search in a specialised database or place an order via interlibrary loan.

Alternatively, you can sort your results using the drop – down menu and sort by date of publication ascending or descending. However, less relevant hits may appear at the Back to top of the list, as it is solely sorted by date.


In some cases an information box may appear above the results list. Here, we recommend further search possibilities regarding specific terms. Thus, you receive recommendations on relevant databases, information on the search term itself and a list of related terms, but also further information referring to our service in general.

Status display

Every document in bonnus has a status, which provides direct information on the document’s availability and is directly listed in the results list.

Holdings Uni Bonn This hit is available in one or more libraries at Bonn University. The link displays further information concerning the individual copies and shows the shelfmark, the location and also displays, for example, whether an item is borrowable or only to be used on-site in a library. You receive more information on the respective library such as the address or opening hours by selecting the linked library names.
Fulltext The title can be accessed electronically. Clicking the link takes you to the corresponding fulltext page, which may be accessed within the University network or is free to access via internet.
» Please read our information on "contents and accessibility" concerning this.
Info on ejournals The link takes you to the Electronic Journals Library (EZB). Here you can find information on which periods of an electronic journal the ULB subscribed to.
Access to the database The link takes you to the Database Information System (DBIS). Here you find extensive information on a licensed database and the link in order to start up the database. It is recommended to read the information on a database before a first use, as attention might have to be paid to factors that may affect the access or extent.
Available in Bonn? In this case bonnus cannot precisely mark the status. That is why the availability has to be verified separately using the linkresolver SFX (in german). SFX verifies whether an item is available in Bonn in printed form or online or will take you directly to the inter-library loan if an item is not available in Bonn.
You receive a back-reference to bonnus if you, for example, search for a journal article that is not available as an electronic fulltext, but held in printed form in Bonn.


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Help » Filter

If your results list is too long, you can narrow the results down even further by selecting the offered filters on the right-hand side. Using these filters, you can limit the results and search by availability, year of publication, libraries of Bonn University or physical format, as, for instance, book, journal article, book review…).

The "Availability" filter

As not all of the listed results are necessarily available at Bonn University Library, it can be helpful to use the filter in order to check the availability. There are three options that can only be applied individually:

Fulltext + Libraries Uni Bonn A combination of the two following filter options
Only Fulltext Will restrict the search to licenced electronic documents and freely available documents, including articles.
Only Libraries Uni Bonn Will restrict the search to documents that are available in the libraries of Bonn University (Booktitles, journal titles, licenced database titles, newspaper titles,…). This filter option does NOT record articles.

In this context, please read our information on the usage of eMedia.

Additional filters

Apart from the „availability“ filter, there are, among other things, the following filters, which can be used in addition or can be applied alone:

Libraries Uni Bonn Searches within the collections of individual or several (institute) libraries.
Year Narrow your search down to a desired publication period. In order to limit your search to a specific year of publication, enter the year into both search fields.
Format Search for particular formats;
Please note that every hit is assigned to only one particular format. For example, a dissertation is assigned to the format “dissertation” even though it has the physical form of a book. This enables the specific filtering with regard to the specialized format.
Subject We are still working on this filter.
Please note that the filter subject area does not always precisely fit. We are working on a solution together with the index provider.
Language We are still working on this filter.
Please note that some hits do not list any information on language whatsoever. These may drop out when applying these filters.

You can apply several filters in bonnus for your search query. The filters are then combined with AND. The results list only displays documents that are relevant in regard to the previously selected filters.
If you select several options (“plus-“ or “minus-“ sign) within the same filters, these will then be combined by OR. The results list contains all hits that match one of the selected filter options.


The works that appear in the results list are available at Bonn University and either exist as a book or dissertation.

Please note that the filters remain active in a new search query if you do not deselect them.

Screenshot displaying the results list with set filters.



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Help » Detailed Record View

A click on the desired title in the results list will display the detailed record view. Here you can receive detailed information concerning the respective document and its accessibility. As a rule, the complete title information and all personal names, such as authors, editors and other contributing persons as well as names of institutions are displayed.

In addition to this, different types of information are also displayed in accordance with the individual formats, which could be helpful for further search queries.

For example, the books’ detailed record view displays subject headings as well as the string of indexing terms. Subject headings provide standardised information on the content, the Back to topic of the book. Would you like more hits on this Back to topic? Just click on the respective subject heading.
Please note: not all documents in bonnus are indexed with German subject headings. As a result, a search by subject might not find all of the relevant documents. Think about language variants or synonyms and start a new thematic search.

Click on the link “further libraries in Germany” in order to view which library in Germany holds certain years of a journal or a newspaper. You will find former variant forms of the name and the link to the online edition of a journal or newspaper in the section “Detailed title references”.

In addition, you can view the copy-specific notes displayed in the detailed record view and results list with the most important information on shelf mark, location and status.

There is an additional point for multiple-volume works called „volumes“. Here the individual volumes of the respective journal or multiple-volume work are listed. The individual volumes can be called up here, their content can be viewed and ordered. If you have called up the detailed record view of a single volume, a reference to the collective title (parent title) is displayed at the very beginning. Click to go directly to the detailed record view and call up further individual volumes of a work.


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Help » Process results

Compile lists of Favourites/Book Bags

In bonnus you can compile lists of literature in order to save bibliographic records, print these lists out and share your lists with others. There are two possibilities, a temporary list called “Book Bag” and a permanently saved list termed “Favourites.”

Book Bag (temporary)

You can compile temporary lists (“Book Bags”) without having to sign in to your account. You can select all documents you would like to save on the left-hand side of your results list and buffer these by clicking on the link “Add to Book Bag.” Next to it, you can view how many items are momentarily in your list and further actions can be executed via the corresponding link.
Individual titles can be deleted, the list can be printed out, exported (e.g. reference management software (in german)) or the temporary Book Bag can also be transferred to the permanently saved list of Favourites.

Favourites (permanent)

The list of Favourites permanently saves titles in your account. In order to use this function, you have to sign in to bonnus. Titles can be transferred to your list of favourites in several ways. A Book Bag can be transferred to a list of Favourites or individual titles taken from the results list can be selected via the link “Add to Favourites”. A new title can also be entered if required or you can select one of your already existing lists of Favourites.

In order to share a list of Favourites with others, select this list in your account and click on “Edit list”. You then select the option “Public” in your access restriction settings and save the new setting. The displayed link can then be copied and made available to others for re-use or further use.

Send E-Mail

As registered and logged-in user, you can share your search results with other people via e-mail or send it to yourself.
The option “Email this” can be found at the bottom of a results list or in the detailed record view in the upper part of the page. The link to the results will be attached to the message entered in the box of the form. If you wish to send several results to other people at the same time, compile a public list of favourites and send them the link.


In order to print the list of Favourites or Book Bag, select it and click on “print”. There is no special print option for individual hits or other data collections such as your loans or recalls. Please use the print function of your browser to do that.

Export Records

You can export records found in bonnus to bibliographic management programs by exporting individual catalogue records or several records from your “Book Bag” or “Favourites” list. The export function can be found above the respective list.
It is also possible to export individual catalogue records directly. The “Export Record” function can be found in the upper section of a detailed record view.

Various export formats are available:

Data format

suitable for

Bibtex Citavi, Zotero
EndNote EndNote
EndNote Web EndNote Web
Refworks Refworks
Text word processing program
RIS Citavi, Zotero
CSV Excel, Calc

Save search

You would like to re-run an already executed search or intend to run a search query again at a later time? The search history is saved in bonnus. The search history can be found right at the very bottom of the page and displays the details of your current session, including the filter settings. The search can be re-run by clicking on it. Apart from this, you have the possibility to save your search query permanently, but signing in is necessary. “My Saved Searches” in your account shows an overview of all the saved searches as well as your current executed searches. Here, you can re-run the searches, delete saved search queries or permanently save the executed searches.

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Help » My Account

The “My account” section is a password – protected section where you can view your current loans, orders and fees, renew loan periods independently and check your personal data. Amongst other things, you can govern your permanently saved list of favourites in this section.


In principle everyone can use bonnus for their research without having to be signed in. In order to access your personal account settings and features and to protect your data from misuse by a third party, you require a personal password and your user number (number on the reverse side of your library card).

Assign a password for the first time

You assign your password yourself by following the “You are new” link of the logon screen in the “My account” section and fill in the form. A password needs to consist of at least 6 to max.12 characters. Please note upper and lower case as well as special characters.

Change or reset password

After signing in to the “My account” section, you can change your password at any time in the section “Profile”.

Forgot your password

If you have forgotten your existing password click on “Forgot your password?”.
For this purpose it is necessary to provide your e-mail address in the library system. If this should not be the case, please fill in the form for an e-mail notification (in german).

If you do not wish or cannot provide your e-mail address, you need to go to the circulation desk of the Main Library or to the MNL Department Library (Mon-Fri from 08:00 – 07:00 p.m.) in person. Your password will be reset after you have shown proof of identity by presenting your identity card and user ID.

Change personal data

The menu item “Profile” in your account displays the entries and currently available data concerning your account. These must always be up to date. You cannot make modifications yourself. Necessary modifications have to be made by library staff. Please see the circulation desk staff for this purpose from Monday to Friday between 08:00 and 07:00 p.m. in the Main Library or MNL Department Library. You need to present your valid identity card or passport with the certificate of registration in order to update your information.


An overview of fees due can be found in your account. These fees may be incurred costs from interlibrary loans or fines due to exceeding the loan period of items. The reason for the listed fees is indicated in each case. Fees and fines that have already been paid are not listed.

You can find further information on our website in the section “fees and charges” (in german).

Renewal of the loan periods

If you have media out on loan from a Bonn University library and wish to renew the loan period, sign in to your account. The “On Loan” section displays the items you are currently borrowing. This is sorted according to the return date. Whether or not a renewal is possible can be seen directly beneath the respective item.
In order to renew an item, click on “renew all loan periods” or select the items individually by ticking the box and selecting “renew selected items”. The new loan period will be displayed immediately.

Further information can be found on our website in the section “loan periods and renewals”.


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