Catalog Tips

Can I Quote You On That?
Looking for a song, poem or short story and not quite sure how to search for it in the catalog? Try using the single quotation mark and the general keyword search. This is called phrase searching and will allow you to look for a phrase in the contents of an item's full record.
First, pick general from the drop-down box in the search area at the top of the catalog page. Next, type in the title of the poem, song or story in ‘single quotes’ and hit search. In our example, searching for ‘speed of sound’ brings up all the CDs and books that contain either the audio recording or sheet music for Coldplay’s song ‘Speed of Sound,’ and not hundreds of books about speed or sound, which we would get if we searched without the quotes.
While we’re talking about quotes, it is worth noting that the double quotation marks can be used to search for titles that contain what are called stopwords. A stopword is a word that basically tells the computer that the word is not indexed and to stop the search. And, not, the, for and a are examples of stopwords. If you try a title keyword search for And Then There Were None, you won’t get any results. But, search for “and then there were none” and you will get the Agatha Christie novel.

Close To You
The catalog allows for some neat advanced search features that make it easier to find just what you need in a hurry. Two staff favorites are the proximity operators ADJ and NEAR. Adding them to your search helps narrow results in cases where common words may give you so many hits you get a headache digging though all of them.
ADJ (for adjacent) lets you tell the catalog that your search terms need to be right next to each other and in a particular order. Let's look at art history as an example. If you do a title keyword for art history, there are over 250 items returned in the results. Some of these include books where art and history appear in the title, but may not have anything to do with art history. Try changing the search term to art adj history and the results drop to 26 hits. Why? Well, adj placed between two words in the search term tells the catalog to look for records where the first word comes immediately before the second word, in this case, art must appear right before history. The same trick will also work for other subjects that combine common words, like computer adj science. Or, you can use it to match two common words in a title, like Harry adj Potter.
NEAR is similar to adj, but using it in a search means the two words only need to appear right next to each other, they don't need to be in a specific order. Taking our example of art history, a search for art near history yields results where art history or history art are included in the title. The words are one right after the other, but it doesn't matter which one comes first.
- Laura N.


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