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Tips for Searching the Catalog

Searching the library's catalog can sometimes be quirky, so here are a few tips explaining how it works, and how to more easily find what you're looking for.

Using the Basic Search
Basic SearchMost of the time, people use the Basic Search - it gives four options:

  • General Keyword: tries to match your search to anything in any field
  • Author Keyword: tries to match your search to anything in the author field, in any order
  • Title Keyword: tries to match your search to anything it the title field
  • Subject Keyword: tries to match your search to the Library of Congress Subject Headings field

Using the Basic Search is best when you're starting out, or know a little but about what you want to find. For instance, if you know some of the title and the author's last name, Basic Search is perfect. You can even use the General Keyword to combine words from the author and title.

 

Using the Advanced Search
Advanced SearchFor people wanting a little more control over their search, Advanced Search lets you set various limits. In addition the same four search options as the Basic Search, you can also:

  • Limit by Location (only see what's in the Chelmsford Library)
  • Limit by Format (search for only books, or only DVDs...)
  • Limit by Language (find only material in Russian...)
  • Sort the Results (by publication year, title, author...)

 

General Search Tips:
No matter which kind of search you do, here are a few general tips to improve your ability to find what you're looking for.

  1. Spelling is Important! Our catalog doesn't have a "Did you mean…" spell check feature, so if you're not sure of the spelling, use wildcards
  2. Pluralization Matters! Searching for gladiator will not also match gladiators - use a wildcard to search for both
  3. What Doesn't Matter: capitalization, punctuation and initial articles (The Memory Keeper's Daughter is the same as memory keepers daughter)
  4. Search Limiting

  5. Limit Your Search! The catalog searches all the libraries in the MVLC - to see only the items in Chelmsford, use the Advanced Search or click on Chelmsford in the Limit Box at the top of the search results page (and pictured here) and click the arrow button
  6. Use Wildcards! Wildcard characters let you build in some flexibility to your search. There are two kinds:
    • use * and the end of words (for instance, librar* will find library, libraries, librarian, etc.)
    • use ? inside of words (for instance, wom?n will find woman, women, womyn, etc.)
  7. Use Boolean Logic - including the words NOT, AND, OR (must be in all capital letters) lets you narrow a search, for instance potter NOT harry NOT beatrix

If you have any questions on the search tips above, or have questions about finding items in the catalog or on the shelves, please contact the Reference Desk at askus@mvlc.org or 978-256-5521.

Thanks to Tracy Swaim at MVLC for creating a list of search tips.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 11:48 am and is filed under Computer.


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