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SEARCH STRATEGIES FOR THE LIBRARY CATALOG
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Starting Your Search

Searching by Keyword

For most searches, using the keyword feature to find books in the catalog is your best choice. It looks for a word or words in the title fields, subject fields, and contents notes of every record.

To perform a keyword search, click on the drop-down menu, and highlight and click on the "keyword" option, as illustrated in the screen shot below:

Screen shot of the highlighted keyword catalog search option.

Then type in the term(s) you want to search for in the box pictured below, and click "Search" or hit "enter." The computer will look for every catalog record containing all the terms you type in:

Screen shot of a sample search for the terms 'global economy' in the keyword search box.

Searching by Library of Congress (LC) Subject Heading

However, there are some occasions when searching by LC (or Library of Congress) subject heading would result in a better search.

How to Search by LC Subject Heading

To search by LC subject heading, choose the LC subject headings option in the drop down menu of the catalog, as illustrated below, and type in your LC term in the box provided:

Screen shot of a sample LC term typed in the LC Search box.

If you don't know what LC subject heading to use, see Finding a valid LC subject heading for tips on how to identify appropriate LC subject headings.

Finding a Valid LC Subject Heading

If you don't know what constitutes a valid LC subject heading, do a subject word search, and in a relevant record, scroll down to the field that says Subject:, highlighted in blue in the screen shot for a record from the "Buddhism" search below:

Screen shot of the LC subject heading 'Buddhism' in a catalog record.

Subjects listed in this field, like "Buddhism" highlighted in the screen shot above, are legitimate LC subject headings; if you click on them, they will search for all other records in our catalog that have that specific LC subject heading assigned to them.

Refining Your Search

Expanding Your Search

If you're having trouble finding relevant searches on your topic, try some of the following techniques to expand or broaden your search:

Narrowing Your Search

If you're overwhelmed by too many hits (25 is probably the maximum number to deal with comfortably at a time), experiment with some of the following ways to narrow your search. (Narrowing either reduces the number of results or re-sorts them into a more manageable order.):

Limiting Your Search

Limit Your Search to Items in a Specific Location in the Library

You can limit your searches to a specific location in the library. This can help when you are trying to find a particular type of resource such as an electronic book, a government document, a children's book, a map, or a secondary school textbook. Instructions for doing this are listed below:

  • Search the library catalog for all materials on your topic.
  • Next click the "Modify Search" button at the top of the screen: Screen shot of Modify Search button.
  • Look for the drop-down menu next to "Location:" highlighted in blue below, and click on the location of the item(s) you want to limit results to, as pictured in the following screen shot for the location "Electronic Books":

    Screen shot of limiting a catalog search to a particular library location.

    All the locations in the library should appear on this menu. E-Books are in the Electronic Books collections. Children's books in the Curriculum Lab are referred to as CL Easy Readers, CL J Fiction, CL J Non-Fiction or CL Young Adult. Secondary school textbooks in the Curriculum Lab are referred to as CL Textbook. (For help with other locations see the reference librarian.)

  • After selecting the appropriate location, click the "Submit" button found to the right of the screen:

    Screen shot of the

Limit your Search to Textbooks in the Curriculum Lab

To look at all the textbooks held in Hackney Library, search the catalog by title, using "textbooks" as your search term, as illustrated in the screen shot below:

Screen shot of a search for 'textbooks' in the title search field.

The results are listed by grade level and by subject, as seen in the following screen shot:

Screen shot of results for a title search limited to 'textbooks.'

To see a list of textbooks in a particular grade level and subject area, (for example, Grade 1, Language Arts--in line 3 of the preceding screen shot ), click on the corresponding link, and the results will display as seen in the following screen shot:

Screen shot of Grade 1 Language Arts textbooks list.

The results are listed by grade level, with the location "CL Textbooks" in the location field, followed by a three-part call number separated by dashes, as seen in the following screen shot:

Screen shot of a Grade 1 Language Arts textbook record.

(For a more complete explanation of these "call numbers" for textbooks, see our North Carolina Textbook Codes page.) All K-12 textbooks are located in the Curriculum Lab in Hackney Library.

Limit Your Search to Videos

Videos are included in the library catalog. To find a video on a particular topic, you must first search the catalog by keyword to find all the materials on that topic. Then limit your results to those materials that are videos. Instructions for doing this are listed below:

  • Search the library catalog for all materials on your topic.
  • Next click the "Modify Search" button at the top of the screen: Screen shot of Limit/Sort button.

  • Look for the drop-down menu next to "MATERIAL type" (highlighted in blue) and choose "PROJ MEDIUM" from the menu list, as illustrated:
  • Next click the "Submit" button found to the right of the screen Screen shot of Submit button.

    This will retrieve only those items on your topic that are videos, indicated by the film icon Icon indicating projected medium format in the following results list :
    Screen shot of search results limited to videos

Other Ways to Search

Browsing by Call Number

Browsing by call number can be useful in locating books similar to those you've already found helpful. It's the electronic equivalent of standing in front of a bookshelf that contains a helpful book and looking at those shelved near it. Call numbers are the numbers on the spines of books, audiovisual cases, and other items in the library. They are assigned to items based on the topics they cover. Items with the same or similar call numbers treat the same or related aspects of specific subjects and are therefore shelved together.

To browse by call number, choose "call number" from the options given for searching the catalog, as highlighted in blue below, and type in the call number of an item for which you'd like to find similar works; then click "Search":

Screen shot of the call number catalog search option.

The results are listed beginning with items having the call number you typed in. For more information about the item, click on the call number to see the full record, including its location in the library and its availability:

Screen shot of results of a call number search.

Searching Using a Partial Title

Even if you don't know the exact or the complete title of a book, you can still search for it in our catalog by doing the following: Instead of searching the library catalog by title, try searching by keyword and using what you think is the title as your search term. A keyword search looks in the title field of a record as well as other fields, but is more forgiving than a title search. You don't need to know the exact title, as long as you know some of the words. In contrast, when you search by title, you must use the exact title to bring up a record.

See the following example of using a keyword search for the partial title "confederate widow" to find the novel Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All by Allan Gurganus:

Screen shot showing a subject word search using a partial title to find a book.

Marking Catalog Records (To Email, Save, or Print Catalog Search Results):

Searching the catalog by any method (by subject word, author, title, etc.) produces a list of results or records. (If only one item is found to match your search, the record for that item is displayed rather than a list of records.) These can be marked selectively for printing, emailing, or saving by doing the following:

What If a Catalog Search Doesn't Provide the Resources I need?

Hackney Library offers a service called Interlibrary Loan to its patrons. If you need a book or a journal article that is not available in the library's collection, we will borrow it for you from another library. This service is generally free for books and articles. Please see our Interlibrary Loans page for more information.

Back to the Finding Books Help Page

Last updated March 3, 2010

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