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Use Advanced Search Tools: Home

Learn tips on how to search more effectively in the Library's catalog and databases.

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What are Boolean Operators?

Hundreds of thousands of sources can be found in the library's catalog and databases. For most information needs, you will want to narrow or broaden your searches in order to obtain a manageable (and relevant!) number of results. That's where Boolean Operators come in. They allow you to limit or expand your search depending on the need.

 

AND

AND - tells the database to include results that have both of the terms you're searching which will narrow your results

                                                                   two circles overlapping. the circle on the right white with the word travel, the circle on the left is white with the word Europe. In the space where the circles overlap it is filled with the color yellow.

 

 

OR

OR - tells the database to include results that have any of the terms and is used to expand your results

 

                                                                   Two circles overlap and are filled in with the color yellow. The circle on the left has the word college in it and the circle on the right has the word university.

 

NOT

NOT - tells the database to exclude results with a certain word thereby narrowing the search

 

                                                                   two circles overlapping. the circle on the left is filled with the color yellow and has the word television. the circle on the right is white with the world cable.

Using Boolean Operators in the Catalog

You can use Boolean operators in the search box on our homepage:screenshot of the All search tab on the library's home page. in the search bar are the terms GMO and environmental safety. The search button on the right hand side of the box is circled in red.

 

You can also use the Advanced search area which allows for further customization of your search:Screenshot of the All search box on the library's homepage. Below the search box is the link Advanced Search which is circled in red.

 

In the advanced search area you will see AND is the default option. Put one keyword into each line:screenshot of the advanced search box with the terms solar power and global warming.

 

If you click on the AND, a drop-down with the other Boolean Operators will appear:screenshot of advanced search with the terms solar power and global warming. AND OR NOT appear in a dropdown for the user to select

 

Remember, AND will help narrow a search, OR will expand it. Notice the different search results here:Screen shot of the advance search with the terms solar power and global warming. The number of results 98,091 is circled in red.

Screen shot of the advance search with the terms solar power and global warming. The number of results 2,694,851 is circled in red.

 

NOT can be used to limit a search. See in this example below how more than one Boolean Operator can work in a search

screenshot of the advanced search with the terms solar power and global warming not windpower

Boolean Operators in Library Databases

Boolean Operators can be used in our databases, too. You can add as many lines with keywords in a search as you'd like:screenshot from database Academic Search Premiere with the keywords television and streaming services not cable in the search bars

Wildcards and Truncation

Wildcards and Truncation are other tools used to help narrow or expand a search. All of our databases should support these tools.

Truncation - uses a symbol at the end of a word to find different endings. The symbols most commonly used are *, !, ?

Wildcard - uses a symbol to retrieve variations of letters within a word. The symbols most commonly used are ?, $, *

  Search Retrieve
? wom?n woman, women
* educat* education, educate, educated, educator, educators
$ eight$ eight, eighth, eighty
! gr!y gray, grey

Some databases vary on the symbol they prefer you to use. This information can be found in the Help section of a database. You can also always ask a librarian!