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Library Search

Power Searching Tips

Doing More in Library Search

It's easy to type a few words in the box and click Search to get results.  But you can do more things using both the Simple and Advanced search options.  Here are some tips and explanations for "power users" who want to do more sophisticated searches.

Boolean Operators and Logic

You can use Boolean operators and parentheses to construct specific queries in both the Simple and Advanced search boxes.  When using two or more operators, add parentheses to specify the precedence of your intended terms and avoid unexpected results.  When you enter multiple terms without operators, AND is assumed for the entire query.  Be aware that the NOT operator can exclude potentially useful results, so use it with care.

  • shakespeare AND (hamlet OR macbeth)
  • (irish OR gaelic) NOT celtic

Search terms are not case-sensitive.  However, when using Boolean operators it's best to type them in all caps to avoid searching them as part of phrases.

Phrases and Wildcards

To search for exact phrases, enclose them in quotation marks.  If you don't use quotation marks, the system will look for your terms anywhere in a record.  (The relevance algorithm will prefer records where the words occur adjacent or near each other, however.)

  • "climate change"

You can include wildcard characters in your search terms.

* - An asterisk can represent one or more characters.  Example:  cultur* will retrieve "culture", "cultural", "culturally", etc.  The asterisk also works as a left-side wildcard:  *magnetic will also retrieve "paramagnetic", "electromagnetic", "geomagnetic", etc.  (Over-truncating a character string will be slow and result in many hits, so use wildcards sparingly.)

? - A question mark stands in for a single character at the beginning, end, or within a query string.  More than one ? can be inserted.  Example:  wom?n will retrieve both "woman" and "women".   

Advanced Search Form

advanced search form

  • Search for:  This defines what part of the database you want to search in.  You can choose just the Library Catalog, the Articles & More database, Course Reserves, or Everything. 
  • Field Selector:  You can choose to search for keywords within a specific type of bibliographic field.  This is primarily useful for Library Catalog searches.  Choices include:
    • Title;
    • Author/Creator;
    • Subject heading (e.g. Library of Congress, MeSH);
    • Publisher;
    • ISBN or ISSN  (Hyphens are optional in standard numbers.)
    • Department (for UT Austin theses and dissertations)
    • Local notes (text from bibliographic note field used primarily for special collections and rare books)
    • Provenance (former owner, binder - primarily for HRC records)
    • OCLC Number - this is the accession number from the WorldCat database.  Enter number preceded by an asterisk (*) to allow for unknown leading characters.
  • Search type
    • contains: The term(s) is/are found anywhere in the selected field.
    • is (exact): The term(s) is/are found as typed in the selected field.  This is mainly useful for phrases. Not case sensitive.
    • starts with:  Titles that start with the terms entered.  (This applies only to titles.)
  • Search limits:  You can narrow your search by Resource Type (format), Language, or Date(s).  For date entry, Day and Month selections apply only to articles and can otherwise be ignored. To search for records within a single year, enter the year in both the start and end fields.
  • Operators:  You can choose to link multiple query lines with AND, OR or NOT operators.  You can also add more lines to the form if needed.

Non-Roman Scripts (Library Catalog)

Special characters: should display when they are present in the catalog record. However, some records lack these modified characters and display without them.  In most cases you can type or paste a search query with special characters and the system will search for only that modified character.  Thus, a search for "étranger" will not retrieve "etranger". However, if you search "etranger" without the diacritic you will retrieve all records with or without the diacritic.

Transliteration and Diacritics: Diacritics used to represent different sounds and characters when transliterating from non-roman scripts do not impact searching.   It is often best to omit the diacritics when searching the catalog.  Thus, searching “katal” with give the same results as “Kātal” and as “Kaṭal”.

Original Non-Roman Script: Some records in the Library Catalog for non-English-language materials contain selected fields in the original language script:  primarily Author, Title, Publisher, and Series.  When present in the record, these terms are also searchable (use Unicode when inputting original script).  Note that many records do not have this vernacular equivalent text, and must be searched using transliterated Romanization.  We strive to include vernacular scripts and alphabets whenever possible, including for languages such as Arabic (including Persian and Urdu), Chinese, Cyrillic script (including Russian, Ukrainian, and Bulgarian), Greek, Hebrew (including Yiddish and Ladino), Japanese, Korean, Tamil, and Thai.

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