Session 4 – Using Advanced Search

As we’ve seen in the previous exercises, the keyword search box can be used for many searches which users would have previously had to go to Advanced Search for, such as:

  • ISBN
  • Multi-field search

Facets also provide tools that can be used to hone in on very precise search results without using Advanced Search.  They work for uniting terms, creating continuous AND-ing between criteria to narrow results.

Advanced Search allows you to cover those bases that keyword searching and facets don’t work for. While facets do allow you to AND criteria, other Boolean logic is not supported here or in the quick search box. The Advanced Search form lets you develop these more complex queries.

Tip: Check the Boolean Tips link below the Advanced Search bar for search tips on formulating custom queries, including the codes for querying the most commonly used search fields.

What’s Boolean?

4.1 Field Specific Searches

Start by going to Advanced Search.

Hint: Again, you’ll find the link close to where you’d find it on most major sites, including Google.

Task: Construct an Advanced Search using field-specific limiters.

Let’s say you have a patron who is looking for comic books or graphic novels but is not interested in anything published by DC Comics.

Try creating the following search using the pull-down options only (rather typing the query in to the Boolean search editor).

  • First enter the terms you are looking for (i.e. comic books, graphic novels). You will have to add an additional field for the second term. Use the drop downs to note that these are Subject terms.
  • Set default to ANY – since we do not need to retrieve all these terms in a single record.
  • Now add the term you don’t want to find by entering the Publisher term “DC Comics” in the But do not include field.

Notice how the terms you entered are appearing in a Boolean string in the search editor above? This editing tool not only helps you formulate more precise queries, but is also a great information-literacy tool for users. We will discuss this later.

  • Now use facets to narrow your results to books available now at your branch.

The facets give you the flexibility to further refine and un-refine your query (for example, by adding and removing branch limiters) without having to modify your search string.

Tip: Get more detailed Boolean search information by clicking the blue question mark in the top right corner of the Advanced Search area.

4.2 Comparing the Results of Keyword Smart Search and Keyword Anywhere

  • Do a keyword search for “penguin” from the BiblioCommons smart search bar.
  • Open a second window and go to Advanced Search. Do a Keyword Anywhere search for “penguin”.
  • Now compare the results. How many did you get for each? Look at the facet options for Topic presented for your two searches: Which facets appear in the top 5? Which do you think are most helpful to the average user typing “penguins” as a keyword search – in helping him / her understand the range of relevant material in your library’s collection?

Keyword anywhere vs. smart search

Creating Nested Queries – For Greater Precision

If you’re up for a challenge, try this one, to see how the pull-downs interact with the Boolean search box editor. (You are never required to enter the Boolean search editor, but it will help you create more effective queries).

Go Further: Use the Boolean search editor to create a nested query.

Let’s say you’re looking for a comprehensive set of your library’s French cookbooks, and want to ensure you’ve covered all your bases.

For keywords we will use: France, French, cookbook, recipes and cookery. To do this, construct your basic search elements using the pull downs.

  • Add additional fields and populate each with one of the above search terms as a Keyword Anywhere term. Each of the terms should have it’s own field. Again, remember to set the default to ANY.

Now we need to isolate the different concepts – France and cooking. Go to the Boolean search editor:

  • Add a set of parentheses to “nest” the two France terms: (Anywhere:(France) OR Anywhere:(French))
  • Do the same with all the cooking terms: (Anywhere:(cookbook) OR Anywhere:(recipes) OR Anywhere:(cookery))
  • Now change the OR that is between your nested France terms and your nested cooking terms to AND: (Anywhere:(France) OR Anywhere:(French)) AND (Anywhere:(cookbook) OR Anywhere:(recipes) OR Anywhere:(cookery))

Your Boolean string is now set to search for titles with ANY of your cooking terms AND ANY of your French terms. If your search returns zero results, look at your search string to ensure you do not have too many parentheses. If you need to edit your search, select “Modify my search” and fix your search in the Boolean editor.

Note: Once you edit the Boolean string in the search editor, the form at the bottom of the page is disabled.

  • Now try a keyword smart search for the term “French Cookbooks”

Notice the difference in the number of results? Expanding the search terms in a smart way greatly expanded the relevant result set!