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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, www.lib.lsu.edu, 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:"
  • "Library Hours" takes you to the web page which lists hours for all LSU Libraries departments and branches, as well as hour for holidays, and special events.
  • "Ask a Librarian" takes you to our "Help" page. There you can get to the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page, you find numbers to phone the reference desk, a link to e-mail reference, and a link to "Live Assistance," a live chat, virtual reference service.
  • "How do...?" takes you to the Online Catalog Help Pages.

Next is a gold bar. Like the header, it will always be there while using the online catalog. It has links to:
  • Search/Home - Search / Home, brings you back to the default search screen, which is the Online Catalog's "Basic Search" page, cleared and ready for a new search. Help in using the "Basic Search" can be found in the Online Catalog Tutorials - Basic Searching.

  • E-Resources - Takes you to the Electronic Resources page which allows access to all of the Libraries' electronic resources collected in one easy to use page.

  • Interlibrary Borrowing - Takes you to Interlibrary Borrowing where LSU faculty, staff and registered students may request research materials from other libraries which they cannot get here.

  • My Account - Your personal library information. Includes items checked out, dates due, and fines owed, if any.

  • Other Catalogs - Takes you to a web page which lists other Louisiana libraries and links to their catalogs.

  • Reserve Desk - Takes you to a search screen where you may search by Instructor, Course ID, or Course Name for items placed on reserve.

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.

  • First, in the left column of boxes you find a series of drop-down menus. If you click the arrow, the box will expand and "drop down" to give you different options to choose from. In this case, if you were to click on each of them you would be given the exact same options. By default, they are each set to something different. You can set them all to say the same thing, or leave them all different, what ever you need for your search. The differences in these options are explained in the Basic Searching tutorial.

  • In the middle column are empty boxes for you to type your search into.

  • The column to the right is made up of drop down menus of Boolean Operators (And, Or, Not, Xor). If you click each of them, you will see that each has the same options. The default here is always "and" but you can change as many or as few as you need. If you would like more information on using these, visit the Building Search Statements tutorial.

  • Click "search" to submit your search, or if you don't like what you have typed, click "reset" to clear everything.
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:
  • sort by - This option tells the database how your results should be sorted. Options include Author, Subject, Title, Relevance, Old to New and New to Old.

  • library - LSU Libraries includes a number of unique libraries. Several are located within the Middleton Library building, while others are found in other buildings around campus.

  • location - refers to the specific places items are kept, like "Dictionary Stand," "Atlas Stand," or "Display Case."

  • language - would you like materials in Russian, or Japanese? This option will let you look for those items.

  • material type - description of what the item is, for example, Audio Cassette, LP, or DVD.

  • catalog format - a very broad description of what the item is, for example, Books, Music Scores & Sound Recordings, or Archives & Manuscripts.

  • publication year - search by the year items were published.

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.

  • Type the word "vampire" in the "words or phrase" box.
  • Type the name "rice" in the "author" box.
  • ** Note ** The catalog is not case sensitive, so you do not have to worry about capitalization.
  • Click the "Search" button.

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...
  • When searching by author, type the last name followed by a space and the first name, and press "Author". For example, if you are looking for items written by Charles Darwin, type darwin charles.

  • When browsing for a title (book, journal, etc.), if the title begins with the words "the" or "a" then drop the "the" or "a" and type the rest of the title, and press "Title." For example, if you were looking for the book A Clockwork Orange, you should type clockwork orange. Remember, the online catalog doesn't care about capitalization or punctuation.

  • This method of searching is especially useful when looking for items with single word titles like the journals Science and Nature. Type science or type nature and press "Journal Titles"
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.

  • Simply type in a call number or the first parts of a call number. (For more information on how call numbers work, see our Call Numbers and Interpretation tutorial).

  • Then click "Search."

  • You also have several options you can use to limit your search. You can choose to only search specific library collections, the type of material you are looking for, or by a particular location within the LSU Libraries.

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.

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