Suffolk Public Library Blog

Blog about exciting things happening at the Suffolk Public Library.

View All Posts

Nov 30

Tech Tuesday: Catalog Search Tips

Posted on November 30, 2017 at 11:11 AM by Angela Sumner

Tips for using the Suffolk Public Library Catalog

Do you want to become a library catalog search master, learn to search the catalog like a librarian, or simply find the book you want to read? Here are a few helpful tips and tricks to become more search savvy.

How to access the Suffolk Public Library catalog:

Outside of the library: Access the catalog at:

Inside the library: Use any of the designated OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog) computers found throughout each library location

Types of common searches:

Keyword: general search option that searches multiple areas of a record to include title, author, subject, and description fields. This is the most basic search and the best to use if you know a general topic that you are looking for but not the specifics, and will provide you with the most results.

Title: only searches the title field of records. Best if you know the specific title and correct spelling of the book/material you are searching for.

Author: only searches the author field of the record. Best if you would like to find all books by a particular author in the library catalog.

Subject: searches the subject fields of the records. Can be difficult to get accurate results, and in most instances performing a keyword search will produce better search results.

Search Tips:

  • Articles at the beginning of a title:
    • Remove articles (A, An, The) from the beginning of the title when searching if you aren’t finding the book you want. (sometimes the catalog doesn’t pull these words from the record so searching without them will get you to the item you need)
      • Example: when performing a Title search for The Fever search for Fever instead
      • Truncation:
        • To find all variations of a word, use an asterisk * after the root word.
          • Example: Interview* will give you results for interview, interviews, interviewer, interviewing
          • Combining Terms:
            • Multiple words typed next to each other will be searched as a phrase.
              • Example: Star Wars (will limit result to only Star Wars related materials and you won’t see results for things like rock star or world wars)
  • To narrow your search and see fewer results, join terms using the word "and."
    • Example: chicken and recipe* retrieves records containing both search terms. This is a great way to search for cookbooks that have recipes with your favorite ingredients.
  • To expand your search, link terms using the word "or."
    • Example: dog or puppy will retrieve results with either term. This is best used when you know the general subject you are looking for but don’t need to be specific.
    • Searching a Phrase:
      • To search several words next to each other, place the words inside double quotes.
        • Example: “civil war history” retrieves only materials that have all three terms in the title or description. This is a great way to search if you are conducting research and need very specific results.
        • Searching with Parentheses:
          • Parentheses can be used to combine different search techniques.
            • Example: dog and (care or grooming) provides results that contain the first term (dog) and at least one or both of the terms enclosed in parentheses (care or grooming).

Narrow your search further by selecting the boxes for type of material, subject, author, series, or publication date:

Once you have found what you are looking for you can view the Availability, place the item on Hold, or go to the proper digital resource to check out an e-book or digital audio book. Try out one, two, or all of these tips to become a Suffolk Public Library catalog search master.


Anonymous User
January 3, 2018 at 3:22 PM
wow i learn how to see if a book is in!! i fell so accomplished. thank you, you're the best
Anonymous User
January 8, 2018 at 10:07 PM
I love the online catalog to search for new books or recommendations from others to add to my reading list! And it's so easy to check availability and make a request for a book that's already out on loan or housed at a different branch! ~Robin M.
Anonymous User
January 10, 2018 at 3:16 PM
thank you for the tips

Leave your comment

You may log in before leaving your comment,
or submit anonymously