Quick Search Tips

The Quick Search box on the Library home page allows you to find the following, separately or simultaneously -- choose from the first drop-down menu below the search box to select:

  • Books (both printed and electronic)
  • Journals
  • Articles (from the Quick Search Articles database)
  • Audio-visual materials (CDs, DVDs, etc.)
  • Musical scores
  • Maps
  • Library web pages

To limit your search to ISU collections, choose "Books & more" from the first drop-down menu.

Quick Search will find words in any order unless the second drop-down menu is switched from "that contain my query words" to "with my exact phrase" or "starts with."

Tips for new searches:

  • Title search: If you know an item's exact title, choose "starts with" or "with my exact phrase" in the second drop-down menu and "in the title" for the third drop-down menu.
  • "Starts with" in the second drop-down menu can only be used with "In the title" in the third drop-down menu. If the title starts with "a," "an," or "the," leave it off and type the following words instead.
  • Author search: Change the third drop-down menu to "as author/creator." There may be variations in the way the author name is formatted, so "that contain my query words" is often the best choice for the middle drop-down menu.
  • Truncation and wildcards: ? for single characters; * for multiple characters, ex. dog? finds dog, dogs; dog* finds dog, dogs, doggerel...
  • To search for a DVD with a specific actor (Tom Hanks, for example), choose Audio Visual in the first dropdown and type DVD Tom Hanks in the search box.
  • Call number searching: the format of call numbers varies, with some containing a period where others contain a space. Input the call number exactly, with all of the spaces and periods, and choose "call number" from the third dropdown.

Tips for working with search results:

  • Quick Search results can be refined through facets in the left sidebar for features such as Topic, Creator, Collection, Creation Date, Resource Type, and Language.
  • To find a physical item housed in Parks Library, choose the "Parks Library" facet under Collections in the left sidebar, or the "Available in the library" facet at the top of the results page (will not return checked out items).
  • To get the newest items at the top of the list, look for the "sorted by" drop-down menu and select "date-newest."
  • Different formats of the same title may be grouped together: for example, "Sense and Sensibility" includes several print books, films, and an audio book. Click on "There are N versions of this item" to see all of them.

Off-campus problems

If you don't see the Quick Search box on the home page, you may need to make sure your firewall or virus-checking software is allowing access on ports 1701 and 8991. (The Solutions Center (515 294-4000) can provide assistance with this.)

For other problems, check the Off-Campus Access page or Ask Us! 

To supplement Quick Search:

  • Article Indexes & Databases links from the Library home page to hundreds of databases, listed by title and by subject categories and subcategories.
  • WorldCat covers items owned by thousands of other libraries and offers advanced search features, especially for author searching.
  • Ask Us! to consult ISU librarians for more search tips.
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