What are some tips for searching in the FVRL catalog?

Try these tips for searching the FVRL catalog on a desktop computer or a mobile device. (Our library catalog app options are similar, but fewer.)

Take advantage of tabbed search results

When you search the catalog, the results are displayed under different tabs, depending on what type of material they are.

What are the different tabs?
  • Print & Physical: Things you can hold in your hands: books, DVDs, CDs, and more. (By a quirk of cataloging, however, it does include a number of our "eResources" which are not physical at all, but have the material type "eLearning Resource" or "eResearch Resource.)
  • eBooks & eAudio: Includes eBooks and eAudiobooks available from OverDrive
  • Digital Academy: A collection of free online learning resources from more than 1,000 programming partners
  • Articles: Links to articles in our electronic resources
  • Open Articles: Free, full-text articles that you don't have to log in to view

Use filters before you search to narrow down your results

These filters are in the top menu bar of the catalog (not of our website). You'll find them under "Search Options" in mobile. They're optional, but can be useful.

Search for a particular type of physical material, for example books, audiobooks, or DVDs

Use the default "Everything" drop-down menu (you'll find it under "Search Options" in mobile). You can choose one of these options:

  • Books
  • Audiobooks (CDs or Playaways)
  • Large print materials
  • Graphic novels
  • Book discussion kits
  • Magazines
  • DVDs

With one of these format choices selected, you can:

  • Put nothing in the search box and select "Search." This is especially useful if, for example, you want to see a list of all the DVDs or all the book discussion kits in the catalog.
  • Put search terms in the search box to narrow your search, and select "Search."
Search only a particular field, for example author or ISBN

Use the filter in the blue bar with the default of "All Fields" (find it under "Search Options" in mobile). This filter can be applied in addition to the materials filter.

All Fields, title, and author searches are for print and digital materials.

  • All fields
    Allows you to search more than one field at once, e.g. an author and title search. Also use "All Fields" if you're having trouble finding materials you suspect are there.
  • Title
    Can be used when you know most or all of a title. But one-word titles with subtitles can be tricky to find if you don't know the subtitle. In that case, you'd have better luck leaving the filter at "All Fields" and searching for the title and author last name.
  • Author
    Type in the name; no need to put the last name first.
    Note: Sometimes authors' first names in the catalog are not what you expect, or they don't even match the author's name on the book cover. One example is J. A. Jance. For all her print books in the catalog, she's listed as Judith A. Jance. If you do an author search for J. A. Jance, you'll only find her eBooks and eAudiobooks. To solve this problem, try searching for the last name only, or do an "All Fields" search. (A short explanation why: The author field is a "controlled vocabulary," which means a deciding body (not FVRL) has chosen a set name format for the catalog, which may or may not be what's printed on the book cover.)
  • Keyword in author headings
    This can be a useful search if you know part of the author's name. Instead of showing you a list of books, it shows a list of authors with similar spellings.

Subject, call number, ISBN, or series searches are for print materials only. (eBooks and eAudiobook records don't have these exact fields.)

  • Subject
    Useful when you are confident that you know the exact word or phrase for the subject you're seeking. Keep in mind that this is a "controlled vocabulary," so the term in your head might not match the one used in the catalog. (If you can find material in the catalog that has the subject you're looking for, look at the item description page to find the exact subject(s) used.)
  • Keyword in subject headings
    Find subject headings with the exact word or words you search for.
  • Call number
    This searches for physical materials by Dewey Decimal number. Also see: How to browse materials by call number.
    Example, 567.9 will bring up books, DVDs, and CDs about dinosaurs.
  • ISBN (International Standard Book Number)
    Useful if you know the ISBN of the particular book or edition that you're looking for.
  • Series
    Good choice if you're looking for books in a series. Keep in mind that not all records have information in the series field, so results may be spotty.

Type the right words in the search box

Here are tips to help you find exactly what you want.

Use a limited number of focused, distinctive keywords

Less can be more. For example, if you're searching for a book title, leave out short, common words like a, and, or the, and just use the most distinctive words. Type azkaban instead of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Find a book quickly by typing the author's last name and title keyword(s)
  1. Ignore the filters.
  2. In the search box, type a distinctive word or two from the title and the author's last name. Examples:
    • lightning thief riordan
    • blink gladwell

This works best on titles that don't have a lot of commentaries or spin-offs. (So maybe use author or title searches for books by classic authors like Shakespeare or Jane Austen.)

Leave the search box blank in certain circumstances

Did you know you don't need to type anything in the search box? Hitting "Search" with nothing in the search box is called doing a "blank search" and can be done in the catalog or from the search box in our website header. (It's actually a quick way to get from the website straight to the catalog.)

If you do a blank search with no filters set, your search results include everything that's in the catalog. You can then filter the results (see "Narrow your results further after you search" below).

You can also set filters before you do a blank search (see "Filter before you search" above). This is useful if you want a list of all of a certain type of material, such as DVDs or book discussion kits.

Get the catalog to stop showing items that are one or two letters off from what you typed in the search box

How? Put quotation marks around your search term(s).

Here's why. The catalog uses fuzzy logic when searching for words more than five letters long. It'll display exact matches first, but also any matches that have at least five of the letters in the same order. Using quotation marks tells the catalog, "I want this exact word or phrase, and nothing else."

For example, if you search for marmot, it finds lots of results including marmont and margot. But search for "marmot" with quotation marks, and you'll get exact results only.

Note: This seems to be an issue for physical materials, not eBook and eAudiobook results.

Filter the author, title, or subject in the search box itself

This is optional, but can be a nice shortcut. Here's how:

  • To limit the author, type AUTHOR= in front of the author's name, for example AUTHOR=austen
  • To limit the title, type TITLE= in front of the title name, for example TITLE="mansfield park" (and note how the quotations were used to find that exact title).
  • To limit the subject, type SUBJECT= in front of the subject, for example SUBJECT="marmots"
  • To exclude, type a hyphen first, for example -AUTHOR=
  • Use more than one of these limiters at the same time, if you want. For example, TITLE="harry potter" -AUTHOR="rowling" to find books with Harry Potter in the title that aren't by J. K. Rowling.
Be careful about adding more words to the search box

You might think that adding more words to the search box would increase your number of results, but that's not the case.

Why? Our catalog search is looking for items that have ALL of the words you typed in. So the more words you type, the more you're limiting your results.

Not all searches act this way. Some searches, such as our "Site and FAQs" search, will find results that have ANY of the words you type, and in that case, adding more search terms will increase your number of results. But that's not how our catalog works.

3. Narrow your results after you search.

All these filters are found in the left column if you're on a desktop computer. On a mobile device, tap "Filter Results" to find them. You'll only see options that apply to your search results.

Learn how to use the filters in general
  • Check the box to the left of the filter and click "Include." (On a desktop computer, you can save a click by just clicking the specific filter itself, for example "Board book" in the "Materials" filter.)
  • You can also select "Exclude" if you don't want to see that choice.
  • Use several filters at the same time and select several choices under each filter if you want.
  • Remove filters you've applied (which are displayed at the top of the filter list) by clicking the "x" or by starting a new search.
Only see titles that are currently available

Select "Only Show Available."

Now you'll only see copies available for checkout or currently in transit to a new location.

This limit sticks to your next search, so be sure to click "Include Unavailable" if you want your future searches to reveal all.

This filter only applies to physical materials, not to eBooks or eAudiobooks.

Only see materials at your own branch

Under the "Library" filter, select your branch and "Include."

Filter for author, audience, material, eFormat, vendor, subject, pub date, language, library, genre/type or shelf

Do some of these sound familiar? They deal with the same fields as some of the pre-search filters, but they may give you more specific choices.

Author
Lists all the authors (and the different ways they're cataloged) for all the materials in your search results list.

Audience
Select adult, juvenile, large print, or young adult.
Large print is also listed in the pre-search filters as a material type. Using either large print filter will give you the same results.

Material
Here's another chance (besides the pre-search filters) to pick a material type—and there are more choices.

eFormat
Useful if you know the eFormat you're looking for. for example Kindle. (For a fuller explanation of these eFormat types, see the "Check them out" section of How do I use the FVRL catalog or app to borrow eBooks or eAudiobooks?

Vendor
Select your choice of eBook or eAudiobook vendors.

Subject
On a desktop computer, click "See all" to see the whole list.

Pub Date
On a desktop computer, you can set a date range with a slider or by typing in starting and ending years, then clicking "Include." On a mobile device, pick the years you want and tap "Include."

Language
Pick the language(s) you want.

Library
Pick a branch to see items whose current home is that location.

Genre/Type
Useful for narrowing down a fiction search.

Shelf
Possibly useful for narrowing down to a specific part of the library, but can be spotty.

More choices available on a desktop computer

Change the order of your search results

Click the "Sort by" filter, which is on the right, just above the first search result. These filters work only if you have fewer than 300 results.

You may sort by:

Relevance
That's the default. Items that have your search term(s) in the title will be first in the list.

Publication date (ascending)
Results will start with the oldest published items.

Publication date (descending)
Results start with the most recently published items.

Author
Listed alphabetically from A to Z

Title
Listed alphabetically from A to Z

View search results as a grid of cover images (thumbnail view)

This view is great if you like to browse book covers. Here's how:

  • Click the icon that looks like four little squares, located above your first search result .
  • To make this view stick if you go to the next page of search results, you'll need to use the "Sort by" filter and select "Relevance (Default)."
  • To return to list style for good, either click the list view icon (three stacked horizontal lines with little dots next to them) and sort by relevance, OR click "Catalog" in the page header (this also clears the search and all filters).
Use browse search, call number browse, or power (Boolean) search

See What do those little icons below the search bar in the catalog mean? for all the details!


Still have questions? Please contact us!