Catalog Searching Tips

Want to learn more about searching the library catalog? The tips below explain the browse search, basic search, power search, and how to interpret search results.

For more details, download the catalog searching tips (PDF).

The Browse Search

The Browse Search lets you browse an alphabetical list of records by author, title, subject or call number.

The Browse Search screen from the library catalog

Subject browse: Enables you to browse the alphabetical subject index, which contains a controlled vocabulary of subjects. Subject headings often include detailed subheadings that divide a heading by topical, geographical, chronological and format aspects. Our catalog uses Library of Congress subject headings.


  • Philosophy, Ancient
  • History Dictionaries – Italian

Call Number browse: Use the call number browse search to locate a specific item or to browse items online within the same subject area.


  • Leave a space between each segment of the call number.
  • Include any punctuation, usually a decimal point.
  • Type letters in either uppercase or lowercase.

The Library of Congress call numbers are based on the item’s subject. They consist of a combination of letters and numbers. The first two segments (letters and numbers before the decimal) represent a subject area; the letters are filed alphabetically and the number is filed as a whole number. After the decimal will be a combination of letters and decimal numbers representing the author and title of the work. A date, volume and copy number may be at the end of the call number.

Call number browse by collection
Type this For this
CDM Music CDs
CDS Audio Books
DVD Films
Lec Lectures in paper format
CDLec Lectures recorded on CD
M12 Vinyl records

The Basic Search

Basic Search Tips

You can search by general keyword, author, title, subject, series or ISBN.

Basic Search Library Catalog

General keyword: When you do a general keyword search you are searching multiple fields, including: author, title, publisher, subject, descriptive notes, contents notes, and alternate title and author spellings. These fields contain many kinds of information about the item, including: contents, formats, origins, languages, details about film casts, listings of songs or musical pieces, poems, short stories, plays, alternate translations of program titles, etc. Some bibliographic records have extensive notes, while others have few.

Phrases: Search for exact phrases by enclosing them in quotation marks. These words will appear together in search results.

Boolean operators: Use “AND” or “OR” (capitalization required) to specify multiple words in any field, any order. Use “NOT” to exclude words.


  • General keyword: Homer AND Odyssey
  • Author keyword: Lattimore OR Fagles
  • Title keyword: Bible NOT “New Testament”

Note: Keyword search results are usually grouped by relevance to bring the most likely titles to the top of the list. Each group represents a similar level of relevance and results are sorted within the group by date or title. To get an ungrouped result set, use Boolean operators to form a complex query.

The Power Search

Search Tips

Wildcards: Words may be right-hand truncated using an asterisk (*) in place of characters. You may use the question mark (?) to replace a single character anywhere within a word.


  • Author keyword: Lobachevsk* returns results Lobachevski, Lobachevskii, Lobachevsky, etc.
  • General keyword: wom?n returns results woman, women, etc.

Phrases: Search for an exact phrase by enclosing the words in quotation marks.


  • Title keyword: “Don Quixote”

Limiting search results

Collection/Language: It is possible to see which of our DVDs include spoken French or French subtitles. Use an asterisk (*) in the General Keyword search box, select “DVD” in the Limit by Collection search box, and select “French” from the Limit by Language search box. You can sort the results alphabetically by author, by selecting author.


General Keyword: *
Limit by Collection: DVD
Limit by Language: French
Sorting: Author

Collection/Date Range: To see all prizewinning Sophomore music tutorial essays from the past ten years put “sophomore music tutorial” in the general keyword box, limit to the collection “Prize Essay” and under “User defined limits” select publication date < 2018 and > 2007.


General Keyword: sophomore music tutorial
Limit by Collection: Prize Essay
User defined limits: Publication date < 2018 and > 2007

Author/Title/Collection: A search for Title Keyword “Ave Verum Corpus” and Author Keyword “Mozart” limited to the “Music CD” collection will retrieve CD recordings of the Ave Verum Corpus by Mozart in the Freshman Music Manual.


Author Keyword: Mozart
Title Keyword: “Ave Verum Corpus”
Limit by Collection: Music CD

Capitalization: You can enter search requests in either uppercase or lowercase letters. The search functions are not case sensitive.

Punctuation: Apostrophes, commas, periods, accent marks, multiple spaces and so forth do not affect the search.

Spelling: Our catalog searches for a term exactly as you enter it. Misspelled words are not corrected and alternate spellings are not offered.

Bonus: To find Naxos streaming audio books of program titles held by the Meem Library, search General Keyword: Naxos and Author/Title keyword of the text you wish to hear. If you click the link of the audiobook from within the bibliographic record, and you are on campus, it will take you right to the Naxos Audiobook website. Just click “Play.” Off-campus faculty, staff and students may connect to The Naxos Spoken Word Library from our Online Resources page.

Power Search screen for Meem Library Catalog

Search Results

Types of Collections:

  • General – contains most of the circulating collection.
  • Oversize – located in separate collections on both floors. Most of these circulate. Exception: oversize music is shelved in the general collection.
  • Music Room – located in the southwest corner of the main floor of the library. These items may be borrowed for 7 days.
  • Reserve / Circulation Desk – located behind the circulation desk. Most of these items circulate for 2 hours in-library use.
  • Reference – located at the beginning of the general collection on the main floor. This is a non-circulating collection.
  • Special Collection – located in the Ault-Evers room. These items may be requested at the circulation desk. Access is considered on a case-by-case basis. This is a non-circulating collection.
  • Faculty Collection – located in the Ault-Evers room. These items may be requested at the circulation desk and are limited to in-library use.
  • Alumni Collection – located in the Ault-Evers room. These items may be requested at the circulation desk and are limited to in-library use.
  • Archives – may be requested from the archives librarian for in-library use.
Search Results screen for Meem Library Catalog