LSU Libraries User Instruction
Online Catalog Tutorials - Advanced Searching

This tutorial is intended to give you an introduction to advanced searching using the LSU Libraries Online Catalog.

This is a text-only printer-friendly version of the Online Catalog - Advanced Searching Tutorial. It does not include picture examples provided in the primary version of this tutorial.

When you arrive at the home page of the LSU Libraries,, your access to the online catalog will be through the purple box on the left side of the page.

Basic Searches may be submitted directly from that screen. The Basic Searching tutorial covers how to do those searches, and also gives basic information about databases and how the online catalog works.

This tutorial will deal with Advanced Searching which you access by clicking "Advanced Search" in the "Online Catalog" box.

Let's start at the top of the page and work down the screen, looking at the various options available.

First is the header area - When using the online catalog this will always be at the top of your screen, whether searching or looking at results.

The header allows easy access to general library information.

On the left, the LSU Libraries Logo links back to the Libraries home page.
On the right, under "Library Info:"
Next is a gold bar. Like the header, it will always be there while using the online catalog. It has links to:
Below the gold bar, a smaller purple bar is the navigation bar. This bar will change, depending on what you are doing - like searching, or looking at results. Options can include "Go Back," "Help," "New Search," "Next," etc. They should be pretty self explanatory.

OK, now that big grey area with all the boxes to fill in!

**Note** NO, you do NOT have to put something in each of the boxes. Just use as many, or as few as you want.

Now lets look at the lower portion of the search box. Each option allows you to limit or control your search.

The Advanced search options which are most useful to library patrons (customers) are:
OK, now that you know what everything is, here is an example:

Let's say you want to find the books, owned by LSU Libraries, about vampires written by Anne Rice.

This is a good time to mention truncation and wildcards.

Truncation is "the abbreviation of words in the commands given to search an online database." Put another way, truncation is using a symbol to stand for a letter or letters in a word.

The truncation symbol can vary with different databases. You should look to the help files to find out what truncation symbols are used. In the LSU Libraries online catalog the $ (dollar sign) is the truncation symbol used to stand for a single character, many characters, or no characters.

In the example on the previous page, if you had used vampire$, the catalog would have returned both items with "vampire" and "vampires," possibly giving you more results.

Another example... A search with genealog$ , will return any word with genealog- as a root, such as genealogy, genealogical, or genealogist.

A wildcard symbol is used to stand for a single missing character in a search term. This is especially useful when looking for different forms of words, or when you aren't sure how to spell them. The ? (question mark) is the wildcard symbol in the LSU Libraries online catalog. For example, wom?n locates records containing either "woman" or "women."

Now let's go back to the main search screen.

On the right hand side you should see a box titled "Catalog Searches." Each of the three links listed take you to different search screens which offer different ways to search the online catalog.

Basic Search - allows you to do quick and easy searches of the online catalog. Help in using the "Basic Search" can be found in the Online Catalog Tutorials - Basic Searching. Browse Search - allows you to search an alphabetical list of items by author, title, or subject. A few things to remember when using this search...
Call Number Search - allows you to search by call number or call number range to browse a list of items shelved in the same area.

This tutorial is only a guide to using the advanced search options in the LSU Libraries Online Catalog. Effective searching also depends on understanding how the catalog searches, and what your results mean.

For an introduction to how the online catalog works, go to the "Basic Searching" tutorial.

There are a number of ways you can "refine" your searches, to make them more specific or effective. To learn about those techniques, work through the "Building Search Statements" tutorial.

To find out how to get the most out of your results, go to the "Understanding Results" tutorial.

For all of these options, go to the Online Catalog Tutorials home page.

Comments | LSU Libraries | Louisiana State University | Library Instruction
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Tel (225) 578-5652 | Fax (225) 578-9432
Copyright © 1998-2014 LSU Libraries
Last Updated: 2008
LSU Logo