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General Information

  • Truncation is not automatic. Use ? for truncation. Example: type compute? to search for compute, computer, computerized.
  • Case does not matter.


  • Search Limits (date, language, format, etc.) may be set before entering search terms by selecting the " Limits" button. To apply Search Limits within a search, select the "Post Limit" button.
  • Limits do not apply to Author, Subject Heading and Call Number searches.
  • Limits can be used to restrict searches to certain languages, libraries & collections, dates, media, or item types.
  • Limits are retained between searches until cleared by the user.
  • To combine a Quick Limits with selections from Limits, go to Limits first, make your selections, then go back to the search box and choose a Quick Limit before searching.
  • When using Search History to repeat previous searches, the search limits in effect are only the current ones. To restore previous search limits, use the Clear Limits button to clear the current limits, reset the previous limits, then select the Set Limits button. Return to the Search History screen and repeat the search.

Simple Search Types


  • When you search by keyword, each database record is checked for the presence of the word or words you specify. A record will be retrieved if the words appear in almost any part (or "field") of the record, including the title, subtitle, author, publishing information, and subject fields. In contrast, when you search by subject, a record will only be retrieved if your search words appear in the subject fields of that record.
  • Results are ranked by relevance. Sort search results from Pub Date to Pub Date Descending or Pub Date Descending to Pub Date to locate the most relevant works by year.
  • Can apply limits

See important details on Keyword with Relevance Ranking searching at the end of this document.

Title Search

  • A Title search retrieves materials by title in the exact word order of the search. Use this search when the title of the work is known. If you are unsure of the exact wording of an item's title, try a Title Keyword search.
  • Exact match word by word, left to right (left-anchored)
  • Searches all title fields, including variant titles
  • Omit initial articles (a, an, the, das, el, la, etc.)
  • Searches automatically truncate to the right when abbreviated: the title zen and the art retrieves all titles that start with this phrase
  • Can apply limits

Author Browse

  • Enter last name first for author searches: woolf Virginia
  • Enter names of organizations or groups: American Psychological Association
  • Boolean operators do not function in this search
  • Limits not applicable

Title Keyword or Journal Title Keyword Search

  • Use when the exact title is not known
  • Searches for single keywords or for keyword phrases in titles of books, journals and other mediums (e.g., videorecordings, sound recordings). Example: American gospel will find African American gospel; African gospel will NOT find this sound recording.
  • Automatically adds and between search terms. Do not use Boolean operators: and, or, not.
  • Can apply limits

Subject Headings

  • Enter a standardized subject heading
  • Exact match word by word
  • Limits not applicable

Call Number Browse

  • Enter as much of the call number as you know, including punctuation and spaces
  • Boolean operators do not function in this search
  • Limits not applicable

Author / Title Browse

  • Lists titles under author
  • Used by some for literature and music searches of extremely prolific authors. Offers easier browsing and more reliable results.
  • Limits not applicable

Advanced Searches

  1. The Advanced Search option can be used to create simple or complex search strategies with keywords that can be located anywhere in a catalog record, or restricted to areas such as author, title, or publisher information.
  2. A drop-down menu provides options to include all of the search terms, any of the search terms, or to treat the search terms as a phrase. Do not use Boolean operators with advanced searches.
  3. A second drop-down menu enables you to specify whether the keyword(s) can be located anywhere in the record, or only in specific fields. The truncation sign, ?, can be used in entering keywords.
  4. Advanced searches can be limited by selecting from Limits; however, these limits must be selected prior to entering the search statement(s).
  5. Do not use quotation marks around phrases

Searching Using Keyword with Relevance Ranking A Keyword with Relevance Ranking search looks for words and phases located anywhere in a catalog record. This search may be useful when other search methods have not retrieved as much material as desired. This search is designed to retrieve the largest number of records possible, displaying them according to the system's evaluation of their relevance.

Here is some information on the ranking factors used in CoolCAT:

  • Uniqueness of search terms within the database
  • Proximity of search terms to each other within the catalog record
  • Number of different search terms present in a catalog record
  • Number of times a search term occurs in the catalog record fields (e.g., subject heading field, author field, title field).

Keyword search results can be very imprecise. It is strongly recommended that special punctuation symbols be used to ensure more precise searching:

  • Put a + in front of your search terms:

+parliament +zimbabwe finds records containing both parliament AND Zimbabwe parliament zimbabwe finds records containing parliament OR zimbabwe

  • Use quotes for a phrase and ? for truncation:
    +parliament? "south africa?" 
  • Do not use Boolean operators and, or, not to combine terms.

Keyword searching should be used with caution for these reasons:

  • The CoolCATNJ catalog is very large (several hundred thousand records).
  • It is very important to use punctuation, particularly the plus (+) to indicate that a word or phrase must appear in every record retrieved, to limit the size of the retrieval.
  • Every additional word included in the search serves to expand the results (that is, an implied Boolean "or" is in effect). This can result in a huge result set that may slow response time and be difficult to navigate.
  • Words entered without quotation marks (") are searched as an "or" search.
  • The total number of retrievable catalog records is limited to 10,000.
  • The method the system uses to rank the relevance of materials is complex and may not always accord with the searcher's estimation of relevance.


Entering these terms . . . Retrieves catalog records containing . . .

"history of child?" history of: childhood, children, childcare, etc.

"rhythm and blues" exact phrase “rhythm and blues search results would be different for the search "rhythm blues" or "rhythm & blues"

+sports !baseball records containing the word "sports", eliminating any records that also include the word baseball

"human rights" !conferences the exact phrase "human rights", eliminating any records that also contain the word conferences

Alternative Search Options: If specific information is known (e.g., an author, title, subject heading, etc.), it is usually better to use a search option from Simple Search or Advanced Search. If a Keyword search retrieves too many catalog records (a common problem with Keyword searching), try using a combination Keyword and Subject Heading search by following these steps:

  • Within the Keyword search box, type in words and/or phrases in any order.
  • Review the results list and identify a relevant catalog record.
  • Perform a new search using one of the relevant subject headings by selecting its hypertext link.
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