Not Like Pulling Teeth: A Brief Introduction to Advanced Searching in the Catalog

nailThe implements in your toolbox can be used in many ways, but are best suited for specific jobs. You can hammer nails with a screwdriver, but there has to be a better way.

A research tool such as the UDM Library Catalog works the same way. You can use just a single implement with a One Size Fits All approach, but there may be more effective ways.

To illustrate, let’s forget about research for a minute and consider a real life situation. It’s time for your two-year-old to make that first visit to the UDM Dental School for a check-up. The Little Darling doesn’t know exactly what is going on, but every instinct is telling them to scream bloody murder, and they are doing so. You decide this is the perfect time to calm them down in the soothing atmosphere of a library, and wonder if the one at the Dental School might have some material to help amuse them.

So you get out your Machine of Choice and got to the UDM Catalog and search for “Dentist” and get 365 entries.

dentist 2



This is going to have to be scaled down a bit. You’ve got a panicky two-year-old on your hands, after all.limit dental

There’s a little box on the right of the screen that says “Limit by”, so you select “Dental Library“.



This knocks you down to 279 entries, and the first few don’t look promising. Again you click the Limit by box, and now you see juvenileJuvenile Collections”. That sounds distinctly promising!



Now you’re down to just five results, featuring such upstanding citizens as Barney or the Berenstain Bears visiting their dentists. The day is saved, and the kid is lulled into a happy slumber that hopefully lasts throughout the rest of the ordeal.

Now, that was a lot of work because you didn’t choose the best tool for the job. In this case, using the Advanced Search allows such limiting in just one step.

advanced dentist

On the Advanced Search screen, are several sets of boxes. advanced screen 2

Those at the top provide the same types of search options as appear on the general screen. However, one advantage of the Advanced Search is that more than one type of search can be done at the same time, which can help narrow search results to the most relevant areas. Plain keyword can be so broadening.


The boxes in the middle will refine or limit the search by location (McNichols, Dental, Online, etc.), or to one of the Libraries’ special collections (Juvenile, Architecture, DVD, etc.).


The unfortunate part is that effective use of the Advance Search requires thought and planning. But hey, this is research, and it never hurts to focus and refine your ideas before getting started. And think back to the home workshop. Instead of just grabbing the first screwdriver that comes to hand, you consider which one to use based on the situation. Even your two-year-old knows that.


David Moody, Librarian