Catalog Tip: Find It Fast!

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If you’re a regular library user, you probably spend a lot of time searching for items in our catalog. If you’re strapped for time but don’t have an exact title/author, use the Modify Search option (also known as Advanced Search) to help you get the best results.

Let’s say you want one of those mysteries that you think have something about “pie” in the title and you’re just not sure where to begin.

You do a quick keyword search for “pie.”

Screenshot of online catalog keyword results highlighting the modify search button


As you can see in the example above, a search for “pie” gives you over four hundred results—everything from pie-themed mysteries to picture books.

By selecting Modify Search, you can limit the scope of your search by the following options:

  • Search Terms: Add additional search terms, such as an author’s last name, another keyword or even a call number prefix like “MYS” to narrow your choices.
  • Location: Limit your search to items at specific branches and in specific collections (such as Juvenile and Audiovisual).
  • Material Type: Limit your search by material type. Material types include print books, CD books and DVDs.
  • Year: Limit by publication year. Use this option if you only want newer titles on a topic.

After thinking about it, you realize that you’re really just interested in those mysteries that have a cat and you know that “sneaky” and “pie” are part of the title. You’re in the Warrenton branch and want to check out something today. Using Modify Search, limit your original “pie” search to include the keyword “sneaky,” keyword “MYS” and available in the Warrenton Adult collection. Check the “limit your search to available items” if you’re set on having a book in your hands before you leave the library.

Advanced keyword search showing search term examples


Using this technique, you will go from hundreds of results to just a few dozen, and you’ll see that there is a mystery series by Rita Mae Brown starring “Sneaky Pie” Brown, which is just what you wanted.

For more tips on using the library’s online catalog, check out the Catalog Help page.

~ Alison, Electronic Resources Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library

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