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Arkansas State University

Library Catalog: Basic Search

Use this guide to learn how to find books, magazines, dvds, pretty much anything using the Library Catalog.

Basic Search

Basic Search

When using the Basic Search consider the following tips:

1. This drop down menu allows you to choose which fields to search. The broadest search is keyword which searches everywhere. The other two main options are author and title.

2. Type the word(s) you want to search in the search box. Do not use complete sentences.

        • Use a question mark (?) after a search term to indicate truncation: comp?       
        • Use quotation marks to search for specific phrases: “world wide web”
        • Use a plus sign (+) before a term to indicated an essential term: +internet

        • Don't use articles (a, an, the) at the beginning of titles

3. The "Limit To" menu allows you to limit your search to specific library collections, such as videos only.

4. Click on the drop down menu to select the number of records you want to display on a page.

5. Click the Search button to begin your search.

If you get stuck, click on the "Help" link in the top corner.

Basic Search Examples

When you are in basic search, you can choose which method to search by. You automatically start off in a "keyword relevance" search. This is good if you don't know something definite that you are looking for. 

However if you know what you're looking for, use the pulldown menu on the right to help you narrow down your search.  Narrowing your search down will help you find what you're looking for quicker.

  Search pull down


Search examples using keyword relevance search

“world wide web”   “world wide web” +firefox   +Microsoft compet?


Search examples using author, title, subject, and journal searches

(the author, Edgar Allen Poe)  

poe, e
poe, edgar a
poe, edgar allen


(last name first)
(title of the book, Gone with the Wind)  

Gone with the Wind
gone with the w
gone with t


  (complete titles and capitals are not necessary)
(subject heading for capital punishment)  

capital punishment



(exact words and phrases are necessary)

(title for the journal called, Journal of Social Issues)  

journal of social issues
Journal of Social


  (complete titles and capital letters are not necessary)