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SPAN S313: Writing Spanish

Search Strategies for Databases

Before you start entering any search terms, spend a few minutes trying to think of as many relevant terms and combinations of terms as you can. This will help you to avoid getting stuck in a rut with the first terms that come to mind.

If you need help in coming up with terms, you may want to try the "Thesaurus" or "Subject Headings" features in the database you've chosen.

Check out the "Help" or "Search Tips" to learn some of the search features specific to that database. Most databases provide similar features, but the methods may vary. Some common tricks:

  • truncation = To use truncation, enter the root of a search term and replace the ending with an * (asterisk). For example, type comput* to find the words computes, computer, computing or computational.
  • searching a phrase = Typically, when a phrase is enclosed by double quotations marks, the exact phrase is searched. For example, "employee retention" searches for the two words as a phrase.
  • Boolean terms (AND, OR, NOT) = Use these terms to connect your keywords. They work best in all capital letters:
    • AND combines search terms so that each search result contains all of the terms. For example, travel AND Europe finds articles that contain both travel and Europe.
    • OR combines search terms so that each search result contains at least one of the terms. For example, college OR university finds results that contain either college or university.
    • NOT excludes terms so that each search result does not contain any of the terms that follow it. For example, television NOT cable finds results that contain television but not cable.
  • Putting it all together: You can combine these Boolean terms with truncation and phrase searching to create powerful search statements. For example, if you are interested in what motivates students in higher education, you might try a search that looks like: (college* OR universit* OR "higher education") AND (student* OR undergraduate* OR "graduate student*") AND motivat*

Try the databases' Advanced Search feature, which usually gives you the ability to search multiple fields (author, title, keyword, subject, etc) with one search and may offer additional ways to expand or limit your search.

If your first search strategy does not work, try another approach. Remember that you can also get help from the library. Check out the links below.

Understanding LC Call Numbers

What exactly is a call number anyway?
A call number is the unique number given to each book in the library. Call numbers are like addresses, they tell you where a book will be located in the library.

Why should I know how to read one?
If you understand how to read a call number, it will be a lot easier for you to find books in the library.

What does a call number look like?
This library uses LC call numbers (LC stands for Library of Congress), which use a combination of letters and numbers. The same exact call number can be written 2 different ways:

A call number that you find in IUCAT (the online library catalog) will look like this:
CT105 .K55 1981

And that same call number will look like this on the spine of the book:
CT
105
.K55
1981
 
So, here's how you read a call number on the spine of a book:
CT        --Read it alphabetically (A, B, C, CT, D, E, F, G, H, HA, HQ, etc.)
105       --Read it numerically (1, 10, 100, 100.5, 105, 1005.10, etc.)
.K55     --Read alphabetically and then decimally (.A23, .A233, .A33, .B4555, .B50, etc.)
1981     --The final line is a date.
 
And here is how this book would be placed on the shelf:

CT
104
.P281
1930
CT
104
.P7
1830
CT
105
.H866
1995 
CT
105
.K55
1981 
D
105
.H43
1992

 

So now that I know how to read a call number, how do I use it to find books in the library?

  1. When you find a book that looks interesting in IUCAT, make sure you write down the entire call number.
  2. Check the location code to find out in what library the book will be (IUCAT contains books from all IU libraries).
  3. Look at the first letter(s) of the call number. Use this to figure out what part of the library to go to. Once you are on the correct floor, look for labels at the end of each set of bookshelves. These will tell you what call numbers can be found on those shelves.
  4. Find the book on the shelf and take it to the Service & Information Desk (2nd Floor) to check it out.