Skip to main content

FREN 1900 Paris, Real and Imagined (Kilbane): How to Search

Which library catalog should I search?

Searching Techniques

Finding materials in library databases, catalogs, or online requires similar skills. Below, I’ll explain two approaches. I’ll also include some additional tips and tricks:

1.    Finding something you know the name of – (known search)
  • If you know what you’re looking for, one of the easiest ways to find it is through phrase searching. Use quotation marks around a proper name or phrase to find an exact match: “to be or not to be” or “Andalusian Dog.” Use this technique everywhere from Chinook to Google to library databases.
  • If you’re in a database or the catalog (OneSearch or Chinook), you can do a combined title and author search from the Advanced Search Screen. Adding as many fields (title, author, publication date) as you know will help you find your item faster. This is called field searching.

OneSearch Advanced Search Screen with Title and Author search fields in use

2.   Finding an unknown item – (unknown search)
  • Enter some keywords related to your topic in the search box. For example, Salvador Dali surrealism. You should get some results. In some databases or search engines, you may have to add the connector ‘AND’ in between your keywords: Salvador AND Dali AND Surrealism (or, turn the first two into a phrase: “Salvador Dali” AND surrealism). This is called Boolean searching. ‘OR’ and ‘NOT’ are other Boolean connectors and operators, and usually work best when in capital letters. Here's what that looks like in an Advanced Search Screen:

OneSearch Advanced Search screen showing keywords in multiple search boxes connected with AND

  • If you’re not getting results, or you’re not getting the ones you want, try searching for some information in Google or Wikipedia to get different keywords to try. For example, Salvador Dali's experimental film. A natural-language search like that will produce results that will include information about his surrealist film “Un Chien Andalou” or “An Andalusian Dog” from 1929.
Tips & Tricks
  • Even Google has some advanced search features, including Boolean operators
  • The library catalog, Chinook, and OneSearch have lots of options both on the Advanced Search screen, and on the filters that you can use to narrow your search after the fact
  • Many databases (EBSCO, ProQuest, JSTOR, etc.) will let you use a wildcard symbol. The symbol * can be added onto the root of a word, comput* to help you locate all variations of that word: computer, computers, computing, computational… Each database may have its own symbols(# or ?), so be sure to look for a Help Menu or Search Tips
  • When in doubt, you can always contact your Subject Librarian

Using Catalogs at CU University Libraries

Research Process: Choosing a Search Tool

Where you search for books is not always the same as where you search for articles. Information can be found in many places using many different search tools like online search engines, library subscription databases, or library catalogs. How do you choose which search tool to use? 

Use the link below to find suggestions based on your major or area of interest, or by type of information:

Combine Search Words

AND  link words by AND to search for all words in the same resource

OR  link words by OR to search for one word or another (instead of both/all words)

NOT  to eliminate results with a certain term

“Quotations” – add quotations to a group of two or more words to search for the exact phrase