The DiMenna-Nyselius Library is open for current Fairfield University students, faculty, and staff only. To learn more about our resources and services, visit the link below
These are more advanced tips for searching in the Library catalog or a database. If you need help developing keywords before you get started searching, check out our guide on Brainstorming Keywords for a Search.
The large number of citations in the library's catalog and databases may require one to limit otherwise broad or general searches in order to get a manageable (and relevant!) number of results. That's where Boolean Operators come in. They allow one to limit or expand their search depending on the need.
AND - tells the database to include results that have both of the terms you're searching which will narrow your results
OR - tells the database to include results that have any of the terms and is used to expand your results
NOT - tells the database to exclude results with a certain word thereby narrowing the search
When searching in the box on our homepage, you can use Boolean operators right away:
However it might be easier to go to the Advanced search to better format your search:
In advanced search, you'll see AND is the automatic option. Put one keyword onto each line:
If you click on the AND, a dropdown with the other Boolean Operators will appear:
Remember that AND will help narrow a search, OR will expand it. Notice the different search results here:
Remember NOT can be used to help limit a search. See in this example below how more than one Boolean Operator can work in a search:
Boolean Operators are in our databases too and work the same way. You can add as many lines with keywords in a search as you'd like:
Wildcards and Truncation are other search strategies you can use to help narrow or expand a search. All of our databases should support these operators.
Truncation - uses a symbol at the end of a word to find different variations. The symbols most commonly used are *, !, ?
Wildcards - uses a symbol to retrieve variations of letters within a word. The symbols most commonly used are ?, $, *
|?||Search: wom?n Retrieve: woman, women|
|*||Search: educat* Retrieve: education, educate, educated, educator, educators|
Search eight$ Retrieve: eight, eighth, eighty
|!||Search: gr?y Retrieve: gray, grey|
Some databases vary on which symbols they prefer you to use. You can find this out in the Help documents of a database or if you need further help, ask a librarian!