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Durham University

University Library

Searching the Catalogue

You can search the catalogue in a variety of different ways depending on how much information you have:

Using the drop-down menus

Most of the search options are controlled from the catalogue home page. The default search option is 'Keywords'. This will look for your search terms anywhere in the catalogue record. It is best to use this if you are looking for books or journal on a particular subject. However, by clicking on the drop-down menus, you will see that you also have the opportunity to search by:

  • title - finds for your search terms in the exact order in which you enter them. Use this option only if you know exactly what you are looking for.
  • author - search for the author surname, followed by an initial or full first name e.g. austen, j. Searching for initial will also find all first names that begin with that letter.
  • subjects - these are assigned to a catalogue record to help you search for related items. They reflect the content of a book or DVD, which is not always the case with the words in the title.
  • ISBN/ISSN - these are the unique numbers that identify a book or journal title.
  • shelfmark - this is the number that indicates the location of a book, DVD or journal. It also appears on the spine of the item. It is useful to search by shelfmark so that you can browse related material online, in much the same way as you would browse related works on the shelves. 

The default is to search for these terms within the 'Full catalogue'. By clicking on the drop-down menu next to this you have a whole range of options by which to limit your search, either by location e.g. Bill Bryson Library, or resource e.g. Durham University e-journals. You can also limit your search to look for items in your college library.

If you are looking for a reference to a book on a reading list we recommend that you use the keyword search. You only need to put the first author's family name and a significant word from the title into the search box.

Advanced searching

It is helpful to think about what you are searching for before you use the catalogue. For more information about search strategies, please see our web page on planning a search.

The catalogue also makes use of the following advanced options within the keyword search:

  • phrase - use speech marks to search for words as a single phrase e.g. "Oxford English Dictionary".
  • truncation - words may be right-hand truncated using an asterisk. Use a single asterisk * to truncate from 1-5 characters or a double asterisk ** for open-ended truncation. e.g. philosoph* will find philosophy, philosophical, philosophically.
  • operators - AND is assumed between any two words e.g. genome mapping searches for genome AND mapping. Use OR to specify multiple words in any field, any order. Use AND NOT to exclude words. Parentheses group words together e.g. (alaska OR canada) AND (adventure AND NOT vacation)
  • proximity - Use near to specify words close to each other, in any order. Use within # to specify terms which occur within # words of each other in the record e.g.  Durham near university will find Durham University and University of Durham; China within 3 econom*