Quick Search Tips

Quick Search is the Library's discovery tool. It allows you to find materials the Library owns, subscribes to, or has access to, including the following:

  • Books (both physical and in ebook format)
  • Journals (print and ejournals)
  • Articles
  • Images
  • Audio Visual materials (i.e., media items, such as streaming videos, music CDs, DVDs, etc.)
  • Maps
  • Library databases
  • Library web pages, research guides, etc.

You can choose to search Quick Search with its default Simple search or its Advanced Search.


Simple Search

The Quick Search search box you see on the Library website's home page is the default Simple Search. Just type in your search terms and hit enter or the magnifying glass icon!

  • If you don't find exactly what you need right away, see the Tweak my results column on the right of your search results page. Use relevant filters there to focus your search results further.
  • To limit your search to items the Library owns, choose ISU Collections (Books & more) under the Availability category in Tweak my results.
  • Tweak my results also lets you filter by Format Type (articles, books, newspaper articles, websites, etc.), by Creation Date, Author/Creator, Language, and more.

Advanced Search

You'll notice that a link to Advanced Search is on the right of Quick Search's default Simple Search box. Advanced Search gives you much more control over your searches. Use the drop-down menus to specify what type of search you want, what type of material you're looking for, what language, and even publication date or range of years.

Researchers may wish to enter Advanced Search immediately due to the full range of precise searching available here. (Once you are in Advanced Search, notice the link changes to Simple Search. Thus you can easily toggle back and forth as you like.)

  • Advanced Search lets you search by Title, Author/creator, Subject, or Any field. Looking for your search terms in Any field would be most flexible and a good choice if you're not certain where your search terms might occur in a record.
  • You can specify word order for your search terms, if that is important. You can choose contains, is (exact), or starts with to specify word order. Contains would be the most flexible choice and would find your search terms in any order.
  • Material type includes All items, Books & More (ISU Collections), Articles, Journals, Audio Visual, Images, Maps, and Library databases.
  • Language currently allows you to search for results in Any language, English, Chinese, French, German, Russian, or Spanish. (If you would like to see search results in a different language than these, keep the Language drop-down menu set to Any language, do your search, and then use Tweak my results to see any other languages represented in your specific search results.)


Search Tips

    • You can use Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT in both your Simple searches and in Advanced Search. If you are using Booleans within your search terms, be sure to capitalize them.
      • Example: strawberry OR chocolate
    • You can use nesting techniques (using parentheses to group like terms or concepts together) in both Simple and Advanced Search.
      • Example: (energy OR effort) AND student success
    • Truncation and wildcards: Use ? for single characters, and * for multiple characters.
      • Examples: wom?n will find woman, women, womyn, while woman* will find woman, woman's, womancentric, womanist, womanly, and so on.
    • In Advanced Search, making your search too complex with multiple rows and mixing Boolean operators between rows (e.g., connecting a second row with AND and a third row with OR) may result in errors. It's best to keep your searches relatively straightforward in Advanced Search.

    Tips for working with Search Results

    Notice that both Simple search and Advanced Search rely on Tweak my results (found on your search results page) for you to further refine your search results. This means that your search may be a multi-step process, even when using Advanced Search.

    • To find a physical item housed in Parks Library, first do your search and then use Tweak my results and choose Physical items under Availability.
    • To find online items only, do your search and then use Tweak my results to choose Full Text Online under Availability. Note that Full Text Online may be used for non-text materials, such as some streaming videos, audio files, and so on.
    • To find only ebooks on your topic, in Advanced Search choose Books & more (ISU collections) under Material Type, and do your search. Next, use Tweak my results and choose Full Text Online under Availability.
    • You may find items labeled Multiple versions in your search results. These are items with the same title you searched, grouped together. They might be different formats, editions, and so on.
      • Example: search results on Romeo and Juliet might include various books, films, and more. Click on See all versions to view Multiple versions results.
    • To search for a DVD with a specific actor (Keanu Reeves, for example), first choose Audio Visual with the Material Type drop-down menu and type Keanu Reeves in the search box. Note that you may find videos, audio recordings, and other media in your search results. You may need to use Tweak my results for additional focus. For this example, on your search results page, choose Available in the Library or Physical items (both under the Availability category) to find DVDs in our collections that star Keanu Reeves.

      Off-campus login problems?

      Quick Search itself does not require login - it's open to all. However, it does lead to subscription indexes and databases, full text articles and other online content that is copyrighted and requires login when you are off-campus.

      • Check the Off-Campus Access page for more information about Okta logins and OpenAthens.
      • See also our Borrowing Privileges page. All ISU community (current ISU students, staff and faculty) should have full access to our content both on campus and off. For others, check that your status allows off-campus (remote) access to our databases, article indexes, and other online subscription or copyrighted content.

      For other off-campus problems Ask Us!

      To supplement Quick Search

      • Article Indexes & Databases links to hundreds of databases, listed by title and by subject categories and subcategories. Quick Search is vast but it does not include all of our article indexes. Researchers especially will want to search relevant subject-focused indexes to ensure comprehensive results.
      • WorldCat covers items owned by ISU and thousands of other libraries. Use the Find a copy in the library feature (found at the bottom of your item's record) to check whether ISU or other nearby library has your item. For items ISU Library does not own, you can also use the ILLiad link (located above Find a copy in the library) and request the item be loaned to you. ILLiad is the name of ISU Library's Interlibrary Loan service.
      • Use Ask Us! to consult ISU librarians for more search tips.