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Library Search User Guide

A user guide for searching the Emory Libraries Catalog

About Library Search

This section of the guide provides technical details about the Library Search tool, and future plans for the project. It also includes fuller details about search functionality and additional searching tips.

Library Search was introduced as Emory's new library catalog in 2022. It is built using Blacklight, which is an open-source discovery interface written in Ruby on Rails that overlays a Lucene Solr index. The choice to move to this system was both a cost saving measure and a desire to take advantage of the feature flexibility inherent in open-source systems. Other libraries using Blacklight for their library catalog include Stanford, Cornell, and Princeton. In addition, Emory Digital Collections was already using an implementation of Blacklight. The development of this new search tool is a multi-phase project. Phase I implemented the underlying infrastructure and integrated with the Alma (Emory's Library Management system for bibliographic records). Future phases of development will incorporate other data sources including Articles+, digital repositories, and Emory University Libraries website. Plans for future development also include expanding the product's features, such as adding browse search, cover images, and making improvements to citation exports.

Why did we name it Library Search? Users expressed the desire for a very basic name that describes the functionality of the tool. Eventually, Library Search will be configured to search many resources provided by the libraries including data in digital repositories and the website. 

Articles searching with Articles+ and other linked search tools: Until we move into future phases of product development, Library Search is the tool for locating books, media, and periodicals, etc. (i.e. materials found in a traditional library catalog), while articles searching is conducted in a parallel system - Articles+. This articles searching tool runs off of Ex Libris's Central Discovery Index (CDI) and it provides Emory users with access to millions of scholarly e-resources including articles, images, conference proceedings, audio-visual materials, book chapters, dissertations, and additional ebooks and open source content. For example, the CDI includes the HathiTrust Digital Library (open access) and articles in Southern Spaces, an Emory e-journal. Articles+ and other search tools, such as Databases@Emory and Ejournals A-Z are accessible from the top menu bar of Library Search. Users can also access Articles+ from the results list in Library Search by clicking on the "Looking for Articles?" placard that appears on the first page of results.

More details about search types

Keyword Search

Fields currently configured

  1. Full-text of MARC record (MARC fields 010-899)
  2. Alma MMSID
  3. Other Standard Identifiers (e.g. UPC code)
  4. Call Numbers (from Holdings 852)

Search Operators supported

  • Standard modifiers

Default Sorting

  • Primary: Relevancy (highest score first)
  • Users can also re-sort their results by other options including Title, Author, or Year.

Relevancy factors

  • Exact phrase matches rank higher, especially when the phrase is wrapped in quotes (e.g. call numbers)

Title Search

Fields currently configured

  1. Vernacular Title
  2. Full Title 
  3. Related/Included Titles 
  4. Abbreviated Title
  5. Former Title
  6. Later Title 
  7. Title Host Item
  8. Key Title
  9. Translated Title
  10. Varying Title
  11. Formatted Content Notes

Search Operators supported

  • Standard modifiers


  • Default: Relevancy
  • Users can also sort results by other options including Title (A-Z) or Title (Z-A).

Author Search

Fields currently configured

  1. Author/Creator
  2. Primary Author/Creator (for display)
  3. Vernacular Author/Creator
  4. Additional Author/Creator
  5. Participant/Performer Note
  6. Creation/Production Credits Note

Search Operators supported

  • Standard modifiers


  • Default: Relevancy
  • Users can also sort results by other options including Title (A-Z) or Title (Z-A).

Subject Search

Fields currently configured

  1. Subject

Search Operators supported

  • Standard modifiers


  • Default: Relevancy
  • Users can also sort results by other standard options. 

Advanced Search

Follow the Advanced Search link at the top right of any page to perform highly specific searches. The dropdown near the top allows you to search for matches for “all” or “any” of parameters that you enter into the various fields below. Filters can be selected to further narrow results. Another dropdown toward the bottom allows you to pre-sort your results.

Fields currently configured for searching the "All Fields" field:

  1. Full-text of MARC record (MARC fields 010-899)
  2. MMSID
  3. LCCN
  4. OCLC Number
  5. Other Standard Identifier
  6. Publisher Number
  7. ISBN
  8. ISSN
  9. Barcode
  10. Full Title
  11. Related/Included Titles
  12. Series Title
  13. Abbreviated Title
  14. Title (Parts)
  15. Former Titles
  16. Translated Titles
  17. Variant Titles
  18. Later Titles
  19. Primary Author/Creator
  20. Additional Author/Creator
  21. Subject
  22. Publisher Name
  23. Call Numbers

Library Search supports a few additional modifiers we excluded from the Basic Search - Search Commands section of this guide:

Modifier Description Example
~ Fuzzy search: use to find similar words or spelling variations aluminium~
~# Proximity search: use to look for terms within a specified number of words from each other

"soccer volleyball"~3 looks for soccer and volleyball within 3 words of each other

^# Booster: use to look for terms within a specified number of words from each other

soccer^20 volleyball boosts the score of records that contain soccer 20x higher than those that contain volleyball

Both Basic and Advanced search support searching by various ID numbers. In Basic search, use the default keyword search. In Advanced search, use the Identifiers field. You can search for the following identifying numbers:

  • ISBN - the search will work with or without the dashes
  • ISSN - the search will work with or without the dashes
  • OCLC number - the search may require the addition of a preceding zero (if the OCLC number is less than 8 digits, need preceding zeros until it makes 8)
  • Catalog ID (MMSID) - all records in Emory's catalog have this locally applied identification number. This is found on the record in the record in the field labeled Catalog ID (MMSID).
  • Barcode: most circulating physical items in Emory's collections will have a barcode, which is a locally applied identification number applied to an individual item. This is found on the record in the record in the field labeled Barcode.
  • DOI (sometimes) - these can be tricky to search, and many records in our catalog do not have this identifier (you are likely to encounter these more often when searching at the item level for articles or book chapters in Articles+). Sometimes the entirely of your DOI string is included as part of a longer DOI string for other materials - when this occurs the search can be somewhat imprecise and you will get more results than you were targeting. For the best results, either use keyword search or the Advanced Search - Identifiers field. Put the DOI in quotation marks to conduct a phrase search in one of the following formats (the presence of "doi:" in the string doesn't matter):
    • "doi:10.1007/978-1-4842-9010-1" OR "10.1007/978-1-4842-9010-1"
    • "doi: 10.1016/j.aiig" OR "10.1016/j.aiig"

Understanding results

More details on filtering

Use the filters in the left sidebar to:

  • get an overview of the results of your search
  • refine the results to a smaller, more focused set

Once you select a filter, it remains in effect until you remove it or start over: that is, any new search terms you enter in the search box also be limited by the selected values. 

For filters with more than five list items, click “more” to view all of the items in the list and sort them numerically or alphabetically.

You can select as many limiters as you wish, and you can toggle them on and off using the dropdown menus or the search limiter(s) that appear near the top of the page. The Start Over button will clear all of your search limiters and take you back to the homepage.


Ranking and Sorting

By default, results are sorted by relevancy. Relevancy is based on factors such as:

  • where the words appear in the record (words in the title are ranked higher than words in the content notes)
  • proximity to the beginning of the title, subject, author, etc.
  • number of occurrences of the term within the record

Use the dropdown at the top right of the search results to adjust the sort by title, creator, or date. Remember that some objects have unknown creators and dates.


Tip: all words are significant

Articles and prepositions are included in the search, so that Library Search can:

  • distinguish between "archaeology and literature" and "archaeology in literature"

  • distinguish between "capitalism not globalism" (a title) and "capitalism NOT globalism" (a Boolean expression)

  • find works titled "The" or "It" and acronyms like "IT"

  • use words that are meaningful in non-English languages


Tip: for titles that begin with an article (the, a, an)

If your title starts with an initial article (in any language) and you are unsuccessful in finding the title, try omitting the initial article from the search. Please consult this list for common articles in many different languages.