How to make the most of the simple search box and other features

If you are interested in understanding how the relevance ranking works, you can find some information in the FAQ.

If you require an advanced search feature which is not currently available, let us know via the Contact us form and explain to us how you plan to use this feature.


Search a specific field, such as title or author, using the simple search form

Alternately, use the advanced search form. A specialised advanced search form is also available for digitised newspapers.

If you want to search only a particular field, you can do this in the simple search box. For example, to search for items written by Mem Fox, try the following query: creator:(mem fox)

Fields you can search Example
creator creator:(Donald Norman) (includes authors, photographers, illustrators, editors, etc)
subject subject:(cognitive psychology)
title title:(short history of Australia)
isbn isbn:0333337352
issn issn:15386597
publictag publictag:(sydney)
nuc (Librarians only)

nuc:QU (Items held by QU but not QU:NET)

nuc:QU\:NET (Items held by QU:NET. Need to put a \ before the : )

nuc:QU* (Items held by QU, QU:NET and other NUCs starting with QU)

You may search more than one field at a time. For example: title:(heat) creator:(neil hargreaves)

You may use boolean logic in your fielded search. For example: title:(heat) NOT creator:(neil hargreaves)


Limit to a particular format, such as books, journals or videos

Method 1: After doing a search, use the “show me only” links on the left hand side of the results screen, labelled “format”. This is the preferred method.

Method 2: Otherwise, if you need to limit your search before you start, use the advanced search form.

(Be aware that unless you use method 1, when you click on an item in the search results your limit will not be applied and other versions/editions may be shown.)


Limit to a certain date

After doing a search, use the “refine your results” links on the left hand side of the results screen, labelled “decade”. Once you have limited to a decade, you can then limit to a particular year.


Broaden or narrow your search

By default, your search terms will be joined with the boolean operator AND. That is, searching for: paul kelly will give you results that contain both of the words “paul” and “kelly” anywhere in the record.

If you want to do a broader search, you can add the word OR between your search terms, to return results that have one or more of your search terms. You can also use the boolean operator NOT to exclude some items from your results. For example: (cat OR fish) NOT dog.

You can also use a wildcard to find more results (although your search will already be somewhat fuzzy by default). For example: olympi*.

Another way to narrow your search is to use the “refine search” options on the left hand side of the results screen. For example, to find braille books, try using the values found under the heading “format“.


Search for a phrase

Try putting a phrase in quotes to look for results that contain your search as an entire phrase, rather than keywords. For example: “sydney harbour bridge”. Be cautious when searching for people’s names in this way, as they could be recorded as either “Charles Dickens” or “Dickens, Charles”.

6. Search for an exact spelling

Searching for Jackes would normally find results containing both Jackes and Jack (Although Jackes would be considered more relevant). To exclude results that don’t contain the exact spelling Jackes, try searching for text:Jackes OR fulltext:Jackes.
Note that relevance ranking may not perform as well as usual using this search method.


Find online resources you can access right now

Using the “Online only” checkbox limits your search to items which are available online. Online materials are divided into three sub-categories: Freely available, Access conditions, or Unknown (Possibly available online).


Find items in your libraries

Once you have set up a list of libraries and institutions you have access to, you can limit your search using the “In my libraries” limit below the simple search box.

In order to set up a list of libraries that you have access to, you must first login or sign up. You can then set up a personal list of libraries from your profile page. To access your profile page, click on your user name at the top right of any screen.


Find Australian items

Using the “Australian only” checkbox limits your search to items which are about Australia or Australians, by an Australian or published in Australia.