Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Search Like a Librarian

If you're a frequent library user, you probably spend a lot of time searching for items in our catalog.

The library catalog is a powerful tool, but sometimes it's challenging to narrow your search to the items you want. Here are some tips for power users who want to master our catalog.

1. Modify Your Search

Getting too many search results? Modify Search will help you narrow your search.


In this example, a search for "pie" has 8 pages of results—everything from pie-themed mysteries to picture books.

Select Modify Search to limit the scope of your search. Options include:
  • 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.
Using Modify Search, I can limit my pie search to the Warrenton Adult collection and Printed Materials. Using this technique, I get 3 pages of results, not 8.


2. Search by Call Number

Modify Search is powerful, but it doesn't search categories such as mystery or science fiction.

You can search these categories using the call number prefixes on our item spines. Prefixes include FIC for adult fiction, MYS for adult mysteries, and CF for adult fiction on CD. You'll find a list of item prefixes on our catalog help page.

To search a single category, include the call number prefix in your keyword search. For instance, to find pie-themed mysteries for a foodie book club, search for pie MYS.


This search will bring up results with the prefix MYS. Instead of slogging through 8 pages of results, you'll get a single page of delicious titles such as Pecan Pies and Homicides. 

You can also search for nonfiction items by their Dewey Decimal Classification. Select CALL NO from the drop-down menu on the left and enter the call number you want.

For instance, a search for 796.323 will find basketball nonfiction, and a search for 378.3 will find college financial aid guides. You don't need to memorize Dewey Decimal to use this technique—browse the shelves, check our catalog Dewey Decimal Classification help page, or ask a librarian to find the section appropriate to your search.


If you have questions about the catalog or need help finding a specific item, our librarians are happy to help. You can visit a library branch, call us, or ask online.

Happy searching!

Becky @ Warrenton


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