Search tips

Basic Searches | Advanced Techniques | Commands


General Guidelines

  • Capitalization is not necessary.
    You may type in all caps, all lower case or a combination of both.
  • Punctuation is not necessary.
    You may leave out commas, colons, periods and apostrophes.
  • Always type the Last Name first
    When searching for a person you must know his or her last name.
  • Author, subject and call number are links.
    You may click on the author's name to find other titles by the author, click on the subject to find other material on the topic or click on the call number to find other items with the same call number.
  • Spelling is important.
    In any search (except for Word Search), if you don't know the exact spelling, type as much of the word as you know. In Word Search, you must type the exact words to search so spelling is crucial.

Basic Searches

Word Search looks for words in the title, series title, contents notes, or plot summary. Contents notes list the titles of short stories or plays in a collection or the songs on a music CD. Plot summaries are included for many children's books and some adult fiction. The words that you use in your search will be highlighted in red.

Word Search works best when searching one or two words. Avoid using common words as they will return a large number of titles. Each word must be at least 3 letters long. The articles a, an, the will not be searched.

Use Word Search when you are looking for material on any topic; you don't know the first word of a title; you are looking for a song; you are looking for a play or short story. You can also truncate your search to find all forms of a word.

Author Search looks for the name of a person or a group that has created or performed a work. This includes authors, illustrators, composers, performers, conductors, actors, audio book readers, corporations and government departments. If you are searching for a person, you must know his or her last name. If you are looking for works about a person or group, use Subject Search instead.

Title Search looks for the title of a work. You must know at least the first word of the title. If you don't know the first word, use Word Search instead.

Subject Search looks for names of people or groups as well as Library of Congress Subject headings that describe what the work is about. If you are looking for works about a person, you must know his or her last name. If you have little success using Subject Search, use Word Search instead.

Call Number Search looks for the Dewey Decimal or Biography call number of an item. Use Call Number Search to check on an item when you already have a call number written down. This type of search is rarely used.

Advanced Techniques

Limit or Sort
Limit or Sort is used to narrow your search. If using one of the basic searches listed above returns a long list of titles, narrow your search with limits or sort the titles by publication date. You may limit only one time per search, however, you may enter as many limits as necessary at that time.

You may limit by:

  • Language to view only the items in a chosen language.
  • Material Type to select only printed material, sheet music, software, art prints, videos, toys, sculpture, or books on tape.
  • Words in the Author, Subject, Title, Performer or Publisher to narrow your search when you don't know the last name of an author or the first word of a title. Always try a Word Search first, but if a Word Search returns hundreds of titles, you can narrow the list by selecting Words in the Author, Title, Subject, Performer, or Publisher. Unless you require a book from a certain publisher, do not limit to Words in the Publisher. The library may have an earlier or later edition of the title from a different publisher.
  • Where Item is Located such as Main Adult Department, Main Children's Department, Branch, or Bookmobile.
  • Year of Publication before and/or after a specified year.
  • Sort Results by Year will display titles with the most recent publication dates first. Click in the box next to the word Sort to turn this feature on.

Truncation Symbol
The truncation symbol * may be used in a Word Search. It broadens your search to include all words that begin with the letters you type. For example, a Word Search for ROBOT* will return titles with the word robot, robotics and robots. A Word Search for GARDEN* will retrieve titles with the word garden, gardener, gardening, gardens, and gardenia.

Boolean Operators
The three Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT may be used to broaden or narrow a Word Search.

  • AND will narrow your search. A Word Search will look for titles that include both words in either the title, subject or contents notes. The AND operator is assumed, so it isn't necessary to use it. For example, a Word Search for HOME REPAIR will return a list of books with both words.
  • OR will broaden your search. A Word Search will look for titles that have either one or both of the words in the title, subject or contents notes. For example, a Word Search for HOME OR REPAIR will return titles that include one or both of these words, including books on home buying and auto repair.
  • NOT will narrow your search. A Word Search will look for titles that include the first word in the title, subject or contents notes but not the second word. For example, a Word Search for PETS NOT CATS will return titles about pets but not about cats.

Description of Commands

Extended Display/Brief Display
Displays or removes the exact shelving location and call number.

Another Search
Displays the search screen for same type of search you just made. If you searched for an author, the Author Search screen displays; if you searched for a title, the Title Search screen displays, etc.

Search as Word
Converts your subject or title search into a Word Search. This is especially useful when your subject or title search is unsuccessful. First, check your spelling, then take advantage of this feature.

Limit This Search
Narrows a search that returns a lot of records. See Limit or Sort above.

Rodman Public Library cardholders may request a reserve for an item not on the shelf. You will be notified by telephone or mail when the item is available for pick up. For further information on how to place a reserve, check Placing a Reserve.

Next Screen or Previous Screen
Displays the next group of records or the previous group of records.

Next Record or Previous Record
Displays the details of the next record in the list or of the previous record in the list.

Return to Browse List
Returns to the group of records from displaying the details of a single record.

Start Over
Returns to the opening Online Catalog screen.

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