Los Angeles Valley College

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How to Find Books

How to Use the Online Catalog (OPAC) to Find Books

To find books you need to know the call number. The Library uses the Library of Congress call numbers or classification. For a brief introduction, look at the Library of Congress Classification or ask a reference librarian for assistance or the Helping Handout on this topic.

OPAC lists all of the books in the nine libraries of the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD). It does not index magazine/journal contents or include the full text of articles.

The default search is for LA Valley College.

To search other colleges within the LACCD utilize the pull-down menu next to LA Valley College and change to ALL or whichever college is desired.

Books located in one or more libraries are clearly indicated.
Books will be listed with call numbers at the brief citation level.

Full bibliographic information is listed under details.
Write down the citation (author, title, etc.) and the location information (call number).
Note the circulation status if it's available or checked/charged out.

To Begin Searching the Catalog

Click your left mouse button on the "Search the Catalog".
A menu of search methods is available.
Click the mouse in the search box and type what you are looking for.
Next, click the mouse pointer on either words/phrase, author, title, subject or series.

 

A successful search in the online catalog results in one or more records (books).  You can then click the mouse again on details to receive more information about the record.

 

If you must have a book owned by another library, you may fill out a request for the loan of the book. To return to a previous screen, click on BACK on the toolbar at the top of the screen.

Author Search

Search by AUTHOR for names of an author, editor, corporation, organization, composer, illustrator, etc.
Type in the last name first, followed by an initial (or the whole first name, if known).
Punctuation is not required.


Example:

siggins m
siggins maggie

 

If you are unsure of the author's name, change the radio button at the top to catalog browse to see a list of brief citations for the items associated with that name. Click on author

 

The search looks for exact matches from left to right, and automatically truncates your search terms. This means that "anders" will find anders, andersen, and anderson, but that "anderson" will not find "andersen."

 

If you are searching for an item with multiple names, or are having trouble finding the items you expect, try a words or phrasesearch. It will search the entire database for any occurrence of your search term, instead of just looking for exact matches at the beginning of the name field.

Title Search

Title searches will search OPAC for titles that begin with the word or phrase you enter.
You must use the exact first few words of the title.
OPAC will display a list of titles that match your search.
 

If your search isn't working, consider trying a words or phrase search.

 

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Subject Search

Subject searches will search OPAC for the words you enter, and return a list of subject headings that match your search terms.
You must use the exact words of approved Library of Congress subject heading (the red books on top of the first row of the reference section in the LAVC Library). Ask a Reference Librarian if you need help with subject headings.
Example: to search for books on California prisons, use "Prisons California".
OPAC will display a list of subject headings that match your search.

If you do not know the proper subject heading, or your search returns too few items, try a words or phrase search.

 

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Keyword Search

Words or Phrase Searching
Type a word or phrase into the text box, and click on words or phrase. The online catalog will search for any record that contains your word or phrase, and display the items which match your search. Note: if you type in more than one word, your terms are treated as a single phrase, rather than as a set of separate search terms. Use the logical operators to search on more than one search term.

The default selection is BRIEF CITATION, which will display the brief citations for every item that matches your search. The DETAILS option displays the complete catalog record for every item.

Field Labels

Each item in the online catalog has one unique item record, which is divided into a series of fields. These fields each contain a specific kind of bibliographic information -- titles are stored in the title field, subject headings are stored in the subject field, and so on. You can use field labels to look for your search terms only in a specific part of the bibliographic record. For example:

Use "woodcock {au}" to find records with "woodcock" in the author field.
Use "venice {ti}" to find records with "venice" in the title field.

Complete List of Field Labels:
au for Personal Name
se for Series
su for Subject heading
tifor Title

Make sure you use the curly brackets after your entry.

Power Searching

Power searches allow you to narrow and focus your search with field labels, logical operators, proximity operators, and truncation characters.
You can combine as many search terms and search qualifiers as you need, and "nest" them to fix the relationships between search terms.

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators (AND, NOT, OR, XOR) locate records containing matching terms in one of the specified fields, both of the specified fields, or all of the specified fields. Use Boolean operators to connect words or phrases between more than one text field, or use Boolean operators to connect words or phrases within a text field.

  • Use the AND operator to locate records containing all of the specified search terms. For example, if you search under "dogs AND cats", the e-library locates records containing all of the specified terms.

     
  • Use the OR operator to locate records matching any or all of the specified terms. For example, if you search under "dogs OR cats", the e-library locates records containing either the first search term or the second.

     
  • Use the NOT operator to locate records containing the first search term but not the second. For example, if you search under "dogs NOT cats",the e-library locates records containing the first search term but not the second.

     
  • Use the XOR (exclusive or) operator to locate records matching any of the specified terms but not all of the specified terms. For example, if you search under "dogs XOR cats",the e-library locates records matching any one of the specified terms but not all of the specified terms.

Positional Operators

Positional operators (SAME, WITH, NEAR, ADJ) locate records in which the search terms are in close proximity within the same bibliographical record. Positional operators can be used to connect words or phrases within a search field but not between search fields.

  • Use the SAME operator to locate records in which a bibliographic record field contains all of the specified terms. All of the search terms are located within the same record field, though not necessarily in the same sentence. For example, if you search under "Chicago SAME history", only records containing both "Chicago" and "history" within the same bibliographic field will be retrieved.
     
  • Use the WITH operator to locate records in which a field contains a sentence with all of the specified terms. For example, if you search under "Chicago WITH history", only records containing both "Chicago" and "history" in the same sentence in a bibliographic field will be retrieved from this search.
     
  • Use the NEAR operator to locate records in which a field contains all of the search terms next to each other; however, the order of the terms does not have to match the order they were entered. For example, if you search under "Chicago NEAR history", only records with the terms "Chicago" and "history" next to each other within the same bibliographic field would be retrieved from this search. "Chicago" or "history" could display first in the field.
     
  • Use the ADJ operator to locate records in which a field contains all of the search terms adjacent to each other and in the order they were entered. For example, if you search under "Chicago ADJ history", only records with the terms "Chicago" and "history" adjacent to each other within the same bibliographic field and with "Chicago" listed first in this field would be retrieved from this search.
     
  • In addition, you may append a number to the positional operators NEAR and ADJ to limit or broaden the proximity between words. For example, "FROM ADJ1 HERE ADJ2 ETERNITY" shows how to search for the title, "From Here to Eternity." ADJ2 means that the words may be within two searchable words of each other, but they must be in the order they were entered.

Relational Operators

Relational operators (<, >, =, <>, <=, >=) allow you to search numeral expressions. Use relational operators by enclosing a field name or entry tag number in braces {}, then typing a relational operator and number.

Operator Definition

< less than
> greater than
= equal to
<> not equal to
<= less than or equal to
>= greater than or equal to

 

For example, if you type "{DATE} < 991022", Unicorn searches for records whose Date field contains values less than 991022.

Operator Precedence

When the search expression consists of a combination of terms, the order in which these terms are searched can be defined. If two operators are at the same level in the list,the e-library first searches the term at the left, then moves right. Refer to the following list for operator precedence, with the highest listed first.

=
<>
<
<=
>
>=
NEAR, ADJ
WITH
SAME
AND, NOT
XOR, OR

Substitution and Truncation

The e-library allows the symbols ? and $ to be used to represent substitution and truncation. These two symbols can be used together or separately, and at the beginning, middle, and end of a term. To literally search these symbols, enclose them with quotation marks.

The ? symbol is used as a substitute for a missing character in a search term, usually when you are unsure of a spelling or when you want to find two forms of one word. For example, if you enter WOM?N,the e-library locates records containing either "woman" or "women."

The $ symbol is used to truncate search terms and can represent a single characters, many characters, or no characters. If you follow the $ symbol with a number,the e-library limits the number of characters matched. When more than one term in a search expression is truncated, each term is searched for all variations. For example, if you enter JAME$,the e-library locates the specified records containing the terms "Jame," "James," "Jamison," and "Jamerton."

 

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