Catalog Searching 101

Catalog Searching 101

Tip: Keyword Searching

The catalog is not like Google. You can’t ask library systems a question or type out a full sentence. You need to do pick out the most important words or ideas about what you are trying to find. NOTE: When searching by keyword, the system will look anywhere in the catalog for your term(s). This expands your search capabilities.

Example: Determining keywords:

What effect does use of alcoholic beverages have on the health of college students?

Tip: Synonyms

Sometimes just one set of keywords is not enough. You may search multiple places and not get any results. Try thinking of a different way to say something.

Example: Synonyms:

teen or adolescent could be used for teenager

Tip: Phrase Searches

Search for complete phrases by enclosing them in quotation marks. Words enclosed in double quotes will appear together in all results exactly as typed.

Example: A phrase search:

“spanish civil war”

Tip: Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT)

This is an advanced search option. Use AND to narrow the results by retrieving only records that include all your search terms. Use OR to expand the results by looking for records with at least one of your search terms. Use NOT to exclude words.

Example: Using Boolean operators:

stocks and bonds
stocks or bonds
stocks not bonds

Search Tip: Field Limits

Field limits may be specified by selecting from the drop-down options in the catalog. These choices appear on both the basic and advanced search screens. A field limit causes the system to search only the specified field for the specified word(s). NOTE: Subject searching involves very specific vocabulary. You may not want to start with a subject search until you work with a librarian to learn more about it.

Example: Field Limits and their meanings:

Author: Search only author fields
Title: Search only title fields
Subject: Search only subject fields

Need more help? Ask a Librarian!