Introduction

1 of 2This tutorial provides a basic introduction to searching for library resources using Macalester WorldCat Discovery. In this tutorial, you will learn how to do a basic keyword search and limit your results to books only, modify that search into a more focused phrase search, and narrow your results to resources owned by Macalester.

Use the arrows below to navigate sequentially through the tutorial or use the Contents button above to skip between sections. Some tutorial pages may be longer than what is visible on your screen. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of each.

Introduction

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The basis of WorldCat is a database of resources owned by libraries from across the world. Macalester College shares our library holdings with other libraries, and in return, they share their resources with us. In addition to physical resources such as books and videos owned by libraries, WorldCat also finds articles from selected journals, ebooks, government documents and other materials. For an overview of why you should care about Macalester WorldCat, how to locate resources in our library and in other libraries, and more, be sure to watch our video.

Basic Keyword Searching

1 of 3Imagine you are starting research for a paper on urban planning. You have been talking about urban planning in your class, but you're not sure what aspect you want to write about yet. It's a good idea to find an overview of the topic, and searching for books about urban planning is one good way to start.

Basic Keyword Searching

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Type in your keywords, urban planning, into the search box.

screenshot of macalester worldcat discovery search box

Your results will include other materials besides books.

screen capture of Macalester WorldCat Format limiter

On the left-hand side of the screen, find the section for Format, and choose Book.

Basic Keyword Searching

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Of all the items your search found, about how many are print book titles?

Using Phrases

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Even though you narrowed your results to be only books, that's still a large number of books. WorldCat searches for the word urban and the word planning anywhere in the records for the resources but you are thinking of those two words as a single concept so you need to tell the database that's what you mean. You need to search for those terms as a phrase.

Using Phrases

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So let's do a new search using the terms as a phrase and start over with a phrase search, limiting to the book format.

Is this the correct way to search for an exact phrase?

screen capture of Macalester WorldCat exact phrase

 

Try this yourself then check your results with the question below. Be sure to filter your new search results by the book format.

Using Phrases

3 of 3When you revise a search, it may appear that your filters are not "sticking." but you should see the number of items you have in your results in the upper left-hand corner.

About how many items do you find now, if you search for print books using the exact phrase, "urban planning"?

 

Limiting to Macalester College Resources

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You narrowed your results quite a bit, and you know that Macalester WorldCat Discovery always displays items it thinks are most relevant and owned by Macalester first by default, so you could stop now and start scanning the list of resources.

But maybe you want to sort by date so you can look at the most recent books that Macalester owns. If you sort now, you'll be sorting books owned by the world's libraries rather than only those owned by Macalester. Let's take the extra step of limiting to books owned only by Macalester.

Limiting to Macalester College Resources

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To limit your results further to resources owned by Macalester, choose Macalester College from the Library filter option on the left-hand side of the screen.

screen capture of Macalester WorldCat Library limiter

Limiting to Macalester College Resources

3 of 3Note that when WorldCat performs this revised search for only items at Macalester College, it tracks the filters you are using at the top of the left-hand side of the screen. You can use that to double-check that your search is still limited to books only.

screen capture of Macalester WorldCat format limiter

Sort by Date

Now you have a more manageable list of a little more than 200 titles. Sort by date to list the newest books first.

screen capture of Macalester WorldCat sort by date

Other Ways to Limit and Sort Results

There are other ways to sort and refine your results using the "Sort by" options or the various filters for refining your research found on the left-hand side of your screen. Limiting results by date or language can be quite useful, as is using the topics. Play around with those options to see how they impact your results.

And, don't forget to talk with one of our librarians when you have questions.