Selecting a Search Type

Basic Keyword Search

Basic Keyword Search retrieves records that include all of the terms that you enter in the text box at the top of the screen. The default setting, "All Fields," retrieves records that use the keywords anywhere in the record (title, author, subject, etc.) For more precision, you can select a field type (e.g. title, author) from the drop-down menu on the right to search only within that field.

Basic Keyword Search is a good choice when you're exploring a topic, or when you're searching for a specific book but are unsure of the exact title or author.

Advanced Keyword Search

Advanced Keyword Search allows you to combine several types of keyword searches. You can also set limits by language, format, location, collection, and date of publication.

Advanced Keyword Search is a good choice when you have a very specific or complex topic in mind.

Additional help in formulating an advanced search query is available under Using Advanced Keyword Search.

Browse Alphabetically

"Browse Alphabetically" allows you to browse through an alphabetical listing of subjects, authors, titles, etc. to find the book you need. It is the easiest way to locate a book if you know the exact title or the author's entire name. Below are some tips for constructing effective browse searches.


Enter the author's last name first. For example: dickens, charles.

Call Number

Enter the entire call number to be able to virtually browse the stacks.


Enter subject terms using the Library of Congress Subject Headings. These headings typically consist of nouns (for example: TerriersPyramidsMedicine) or noun phrases (for example: Territorial watersLatin literature, Medieval and modern; Hip-hop in art). Many are further subdivided by topical, geographical, chronological, and/or form subdivisions that narrow down the scope of the subject and make it more precise (for example: Dogs—Physiology; Czechoslovakia—Economic conditions—1945-1992; Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865—Pictorial works).

Subject headings are assigned to resources under the most specific subject heading available—and so searches should begin with the specific and only secondarily broaden out to the general if a specific subject heading is unavailable.

Basic or Advanced Keyword Search may be a better option if you do not know the specific subject heading terminology.  

What do the different fields search? (Title, Author, Subject, etc.)

If you specify a field, the Catalog will return only those records which contain your search term(s) in the data field specified. For example, if you search for "Nepal" and "Forestry" and select "Title" from the drop down menu, the Catalog will return results for only those records which contain both "Nepal" and "Forestry" in the title. If you do not specify a field, the Catalog will return records which contain your search term(s) anywhere in the record.

Why are there so many options?

Defining a data field from the many options in the drop down menu allows you to execute a more focused or precise search. Because the data contained in bibliographic records is coded by type (e.g. Title, Author, Subject, Publisher, etc.), you can specify the type of data you wish to search. That means, for example, that you could search for books that have Mark Twain as the subject rather than as the author. This level of precision is not possible with a Google Search, because the data Google indexes is rarely coded in the same way Library records are.