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Library Catalog Search Tips

Using the Library Catalog

General Search Hints
LAMP is not case sensitive. Searches may be entered in UPPERCASE, lower case, or Mixed Case.

Initial Articles
When used as the first word of a title, English language articles, "a", "an", and "the", are disregarded by LAMP. For example, "The New Yorker" is searched as "New Yorker." For all other languages, omit initial articles from your search EXCEPT for places and some other proper names. For example, for the Latin American country use "El Salvador" not just "Salvador"; for the French architect use "Le Corbusier".

LAMP automatically converts the ampersand (&) to the spelled out word "and". Apostrophes are ignored. For example, O'Hara will be searched for as if it were spelled OHara. LAMP automatically replaces most other punctuation marks by spaces when doing a search.

Use this type of search if you are looking for a book or video ABOUT something or someone (examples: a book about Washington, George, or a book about Zen Buddhism, or a video about Dance).

Use this type of search if you know the title of your book or video
(examples: "Stranger in a Strange Land' - or - "Moll Flanders").


Use this type of search if you know who wrote the book(s) you need, or who directed, produced or starred in the video you need (examples: "King, Stephen" or "Twain, Mark").

Select this button to perform a keyword search.


Use this type of search if you can only remember one of the author's names, and only some of the words of the title (Example: author=King title=werewolf will find the book "Cycle of the Werewolf").

Use this type of search if you know what Library of Congress call number is on the book you need
(example: PS3561 I483 C9 1985).

Use this type of search if you want to see if the LLRC has any issues of a MAGAZINE or JOURNAL or NEWSPAPER you need. You do NOT find the actual articles here. If you are looking for articles from a magazine, journal or newspaper, choose Electronic Resources on the LAMP home page.

Use this type of search if your instructor has told you that s/he has put materials "on RESERVE" in the Library - You can find them by the INSTRUCTOR'S NAME or by the COURSE NAME.

Use the asterisk "*" at the end of a search word or string of letters to find all words beginning with these same letters. For example, child* will retrieve child, childhood, children, child's, etc. Truncation within a word is not available.

Exact Matching
When searching by TITLE results may be limited using the exact match symbol, the vertical bar "|" (usually located on the backslash \ key). For instance, input "time|" to retrieve only the entries for "time" and not "time management," etc. Likewise, input "cat|" to retrieve items about the animal and not items such as catalyst, catcher, or cathedral. Searches in the other LAMP indexes automatically truncate and retrieve all matches which begin with the characters you input.

Limiting Your Search Results
To retrieve more exact results from your search, try the LIMIT feature. After executing a search, click on LIMIT THIS SEARCH (top & bottom of the screen) to bring up a search form with the available limiting options. You may limit your search results by material type such as periodical, music score, or videocassette; by year or range of years of publication; by language; by selected library locations; or, by Words in the Author, Title, or Subject. Be aware that limiting by language will retrieve both materials in the language you specify and materials translated from that language (and many of these are in English).

Click in the box for the category/categories you want to limit by. If the box includes an arrow click on the arrow to see the possible choices, then highlight and click on your choice. You may enter any or all of the limit criteria. To execute the limit, click on the bar that says "Limit/sort items retrieved using above data".

Boolean Searching
When doing a keyword search, words can be combined using logical connectors ("Boolean operators"). The available Boolean operators are:
Use AND to request records that contain both words. Using AND has the effect of narrowing the search. When two terms are entered without any Boolean operator, LAMP automatically does a phrase search.. For example, if "federal government" is entered as a word search, LAMP would search for the phrase "federal government." You would get different search results if you searched "federal" AND "government."

Use OR to request records that contain either word. Using OR has the effect of expanding the search and tends to retrieve more records. For example, if "dogs or cats" is entered as a word search, LAMP would search for either "dogs" OR "cats" in the keyword indexed fields.

Use NOT before a word or before a phrase enclosed in parentheses to exclude the word or parenthetical expression in keyword indexed fields. The Boolean operator NOT (or NO) applies only to the word or parenthetical expression which immediately follows it.
To exclude more than one word or parenthetical expression, either use parentheses or key NOT before each word to be excluded. For example, if "chess not (checkers or backgammon)" is entered as a word search, LAMP would search for only those records that include "chess" but exclude "checkers" and "backgammon" in the keyword indexed fields. This example could also be entered as "chess not checkers not backgammon".

COMBINED Author/Title Search
Keywords from a title may be combined with the author's name in a search. This is particularly useful if you are not certain of the full title or if the author (for example, Mark Twain) has written a great many works.

AUTHOR portionType the Name of the person, organization, or conference; for example,PERSON (last name first) --> Twain, Mark OR Twain, MORGANIZATION as author --> California Legislature --> General MotorsCONFERENCE as author --> Conference on Chemistry

TITLE portion Type as many or as few of the words in the title as you want and in any word order; for example,

The adventures of Tom Sawyer
Tom Sawyer
Sunset review report on the Bilingual Education Program
Bilingual education program report
Reactivity of the photoexcited organic molecule; proceedings
Photoexcited molecule reactivity

Adapted from San Diego State University with permission