Help Center

Keyword Search

Type the keyword or phrase you want to find. For example:

  • platypus
  • global warming
  • philosophy in popular culture
  • Abraham Lincoln

Keyword search results are usually grouped by relevance to bring the titles that should be the best matches to your search to the top of the list. Relevancy is visually indicated with this graphic:

Most relevant titles entries 1-5

There are up to five levels of relevance:

  • Most relevant titles
  • Highly relevant titles
  • Very relevant titles
  • Relevant titles
  • Other relevant titles

Each group represents a similar level of relevance and results are sorted within the group by date or title. To get an ungrouped result set, use Boolean operators to form a complex query. Boolean searching is explained below.

When searching multiple words, the system will automatically supply the Boolean "AND" operator between each word; multiple words entered for the search will all occur somewhere in the retrieved records, though not necessarily in the order entered. Both of these examples will retrieve the same results:

  • information technology services
  • information AND technology AND services

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. For example:

"information technology services"

Boolean Operators

Use "AND" or "OR" to narrow or broaden a search in any field, any order. Use "AND NOT" to exclude words. Use parentheses to group portions of more complex searches. Here are some examples:

  • stocks AND bonds
  • frogs OR tadpoles
  • Mexico AND NOT new
  • (alaska OR canada) AND (adventure AND NOT vacation)


Words may be right-hand truncated using an asterisk ('*'), which matches any number of non-space characters, starting at the specified position in the word. The '*' wildcard may also be embedded in a search string. You may use a question mark ('?') to replace a single character anywhere within a word. Examples include:

  • legislat*
  • environment* polic*
  • wom?n

Field limits

When selecting the Advanced Search, field limits may be specified by selecting a field limit from the selection list. These limits appear before the word or phrase to be searched. A field limit causes the system to search only the specified field for the specified word(s). Field Limits and their meanings:

  • Author: Search only author fields
  • Title: Search only title fields
  • Subject: Search only subject fields
  • Note: Search only note fields

Other limits

Also in the Advanced Search, you can further limit your search to certain material types, a range of publication dates, specific languages, certain locations in the library, and more.

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Title Search

Type as much or as little of the title as you want or know. For example:

  • merchant of venice
  • merchant of v
  • merchant

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Author Search

Use the author search not only to search for authors, but also to search for artists, performers, composers and others. Type the last name of the individual first. Capitalization does not matter. For example:

  • Shakespeare
  • angelou, m
  • Hildebrandt, R.A.
  • Renoir, Jean
  • Spielberg, Steven

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Author and Title Search

This search allows you to type as much of both the author's name and the title of the work that you are seeking. For the author portion of the search, type the last name of the individual first. Capitalization does not matter. For the title portion of the search, type as much or as little of the title as you want. Here are some examples:

  • Shakespeare Romeo
  • Mozart Flute
  • Meacham, Jon American Gospel

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Subject Search

Type as much or as little of the subject as you want. It is sometimes best to perform keyword searches first in order to help you identify correct subject headings. Subject search examples include:

  • Global warming
  • United States History Civil War, 1861-1865
  • Human rights
  • Human rights Egypt

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Call Number Search

There are three different call number searches that you can perform- Library of Congress (LC) call numbers, Dewey Decimal & Local call numbers, and Government Documents call numbers. For each type of call number search, you only need to type as much or as little of the call number as you want or know. Here are some examples for LC call number searching:

  • PR 4021
  • PR 4021 .B55 1923
  • BL80.2.C338 1985
  • BL80.2

The Dewey & Local call number search is the search to use not only for materials shelved in Dewey Decimal Classification, but also for collections that have local classification schemes such as the Fooshee Collection, Video Collection and the CD Collection. Here are some examples:

  • 818.2 C776d
  • 818.2
  • Fiction Coo
  • Video Feature Spa
  • Video Foreign Japanese Bur
  • Audio-CD 1004

Here are some examples of Government Documents call number (also called SuDocs numbers) searches:

  • Y 4
  • Y 4.En2/3
  • Y4.En2/3: 102-45
  • I 19.76

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Genre/Form Search

Genre/form headings describe what an item is, not what it is about. A book about horror films would have the subject heading Horror films, while the movie The Texas Chainsaw Massacre would also have a genre/form heading for Horror films, since the movie is a horror film, not a movie about horror films.

Form is defined as a characteristic of works with a particular format and/or purpose. A "short" is a particular form, for example, as is "animation." Genre refers to categories of works that are characterized by similar plots, themes, settings, situations, and characters. Examples of genres are westerns and thrillers. In the heading Horror films, "horror" is the genre and "films" is the form.

Type as much or as little of the genre/form as you want. For example:

  • Mystery
  • Feature films
  • Short stories
  • Television serials

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Reserve Search

Often faculty will place readings on reserve in the library for their classes. There are two simple ways to locate materials that have been placed on reserve: search by course name and search by professor.


Type as much or as little of the course number or course name as you want. For example:

  • Music 301
  • History of Music
  • Forestry 121
  • Introduction to Forestry


Type as much or as little of the professor's name as you want. For example:

  • O'Connor
  • O'Connor, Richard
  • Michael
  • Michael, Jennifer

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Type the ISBN or ISSN as it appears. Punctuation and spaces can be omitted if desired. For example:

  • 9780807134443
  • 1400063256
  • 0002-9122
  • 141981284X

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Saving your searches

If you have a favorite author or subject for which you often search when using the catalog, you can save the search with the click of a button. This will prevent you from having to key in the search each time and let you learn about new materials quicker. In order to do this, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your "My Library" Account.
  2. Click on the "New Search" button.
  3. Search for your favorite author, subject, title, etc. or create an advanced keyword search including limits to material type, language, publication year, etc..
  4. When your results are displayed, click the button marked "Save as preferred search".
  5. The next time that you log in to your My Library Account, you can click the "Preferred Searches" button to see a list of your saved searches.
  6. Click on the search link associated with any of the preferred search terms in the list to quickly execute your search.
  7. You can be alerted of new materials added to the library collection which match your searches. Just check the "Mark for Email" box and be sure that your patron record information includes your current email address.

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Library cardholders may renew their own materials online. All material may be renewed except for audio, video and reserve materials. Materials that have holds for other library uses or materials on which you owe fines also may not be renewed. In order to renew materials online, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your My Library Account.
  2. If the materials you have checked out are not immediately displaying, click the "Items currently checked out" link to view the materials you have checked out.
  3. Select the materials you want to renew by checking the boxes in the RENEW column and then click the Renew Selected Items button. If you want to renew everything, click the Renew ALL button.
  4. If you cannot renew items, a message will appear on the screen. If you are successful, a new due date will appear in the "STATUS" column. Always check the STATUS column for information on the success or failure of your renewal.

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