Find help searching the U of A Libraries Collections.

Ask Us


Was this guide helpful?
Yes (click to add comments): 22 votes (59.46%)
No (click to add comments): 15 votes (40.54%)
Total Votes: 37

1. When to Use Advanced Search

Use Advanced Search for Books, Media & More when you need to:

  • Combine two or more specific fields (Author, Title, Subject)
  • Limit your search before you start, ie:
    • Format, e.g: Online items only
    • Location, e.g: Items in Rutherford Library
    • Date of publication, e.g: 2000 - 2015
    • Language
    • etc.
  • Search using complex Boolean logic
  • Avoid automatic word stemming

2. Books Advanced Search: Author + Title

In many cases, a basic keyword search will be effective to find a title + author, e.g:

  • All fields: mcluhan global village

The correct item will typically be in the first 2-3 results. When the basic keyword search does not work try the Advanced Search, e.g:

3. Books Advanced Search: By and About

Find all of the books by and about Picasso that are in the Rutherford Library collection:

  • Match all:
    • Title: Picasso
    • Author: Picasso
    • Subject: Picasso
  • Limit to Library: University of Alberta Rutherford Humanities & Social Science

The results will not include ~300 works that mention Picasso in a content note or review, or other minor mention. These additional items would be retrieved in a simple search, but would be ranked at the end of the results.


4. Books Advanced Search: Boolean Searching / Complex Search Logic

You can create complex Boolean logic using AND, OR, and NOT (all in upper-case) and parentheses for nesting.

  • When you want to account for words or phrases that express similar concepts, use OR
    - In the example below, we want to search for a range of possibilities for women OR gender OR girls
    - In the example below, we want to search for a range of possibilities for the British Isles
  • When you want to eliminate a word or phrase, use NOT
    - In the example below, we are interested in the country of England, but NOT the state of New England


In this example, we want to use various keywords for Native People in the Canadian context and we want to account for two ways to express the concept of Climate Change. We also choose to limit to the Geographic Region, Canada:

5. What fields are searched?

  • All fields
    • All metadata, including the specific fields listed below
  • Title
    • main title
    • uniform title
    • title variant (including former title)
    • related title
  • Author
    • main author
    • contributors (co-authors, advisors, illustrators, etc.)
    • series author
  • Subject
    • database topic (domain headings assigned only to databases)
    • subject headings, including topic, region, era, and genre
  • Series - search using "All Fields"
    • series title
  • Place, publisher, year - search using "All Fields"
    • country of publication (e.g. Spain)
    • location (e.g. Valencia)
    • publisher
    • publication date (single year; does not allow date ranges)
  • Notes - search using "All Fields"
  • Tables of Contents - search using "All Fields"
  • Call Number - search using "All Fields"
  • ISBN, ISSN - search using "All Fields"