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Libraries' Catalog Help - Searching Tips

Basic Searching


  • All searches are keyword searches. That is, if you select Title, Author or Subject from the drop-down menu, the words you type in the box will be found in the Title, Author or Subject fields in the record, but they may not be in the order you entered them.
  • For phrase searching, use closed quotation marks (" ") to require that the words appear in the order typed.
  • If you are searching in the Subject field, omit prepositions (e.g., in, with, on) or enclose the subject heading in quotation marks.
  • To search by call number using the drop down menu Call Number, you must enter the exact call number, including the decimal point. You can also leave the drop down menu at All Fields and enter the beginning of the call number to bring up a list of items beginning with that call number.

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators must be ALL CAPS; lower case operators are ignored.  AND is the default operator; if there is no Boolean operator between two terms, the AND operator is used.

  • The AND operator matches records where both terms exist anywhere in the record.
  • The OR operator links two terms and finds a matching record if either of the terms exist in a record.
  • The NOT operator excludes records that contain the term after NOT.
    To search for documents that contain economics but not Keynes use the query: economics NOT Keynes

Wildcards and Truncation

  • The system automatically stems many of the words you type. Stemming removes suffixes from the stem and gives hits on all forms of the stem word.  (e.g., Typing teach will also hit teaches and teaching; test will also show hits for tests and tested.) It isn't necessary to use a question mark (?) or an asterisk (*) when searching for multiple endings of a root word.
  • Use * and ? for wildcard and truncation with care. They are not necessary for alternate forms of a stemmed word and may return no hits if used .

Limit your results

  • Use the categories on the left side of the results page to refine your search.
  • The category Format can be used to refine your search to type of material.

Sort your results

  • Use the drop-down on the right to sort your search by Date, Title, Author or Call Number. The default sort is Relevance.

Advanced Searching

Note that the original catalog interface, called the Classic Catalog, can be accessed through a link on the header of each page. If a link to an internet site doesn't work, try using the Classic Catalog to search for the item. Advanced Search is best used for building a complex query.

Search Fields

On the Advanced Search page you are presented with several search fields. Type the keywords you are seeking in the search boxes. Search operators are allowed. Each field is accompanied by a drop-down that lets you specify the type of data (title, author, etc.) you are searching. You can mix and match search types however you like. The Match setting lets you specify how multiple search fields should be handled.

  • ALL Terms will return only records that match every search field.
  • ANY Terms will return any records that match at least one search field.
  • NO Terms will return all records EXCEPT those that match the terms in that search field.

The Add Search Field button is used to add additional search fields to the form. You can use as many search fields as you like.

Search Groups

For certain complex searches, a single set of search fields might not be enough. For example, suppose you want to find books about the history of China or India. If you did an ALL Terms search for China, India, and History, you would only get books about China AND India. If you did an ANY Terms search, you would get books about history that had nothing to do with China or India. Search Groups provide a way to build searches from multiple groups of search fields. Every time you click the Add Search Group button, a new group of fields is added. Once you have multiple search groups, you can specify whether you want to match on ANY or ALL search groups. In the history of China or India example described above, you could solve the problem using search groups like this:

  • In the first search group, enter "India" and "China" and make sure that the Match setting is ANY Terms.
  • Add a second search group and enter "history".
  • Make sure the Match setting is set to ALL Groups.