Search tips

This guide provides tips on how to browse and search in the Shared Catalogue.

  1. Browsing
  2. Basic Search
  3. Advanced Search
  4. Forming Searches
  5. Searching in a particular fonds or collection
  6. Searching for persons and organizations
  7. Printing finding aids, file lists, and item lists


1. BROWSING

It is possible to browse archival descriptions, authority records (persons and organizations), repositories (archival institutions), places, subjects, and digital objects in the Shared Catalogue.

To browse by category, use the Browse menu to the left-hand side of the search box or consult the Browse by menu to the left side of the screen. Both menus allow you to browse by category.

Archival descriptionsArchival descriptions can be browsed at all levels in the Shared Catalogue. By selecting Archival descriptions in the Browse or Browse by menus, you will be provided a list of all top-level archival descriptions (i.e. fonds, collection). To expand your search and browse descriptions of all levels (i.e. fonds, series, subseries, file, item), select All descriptions under the Level of Description heading. If you are interested in searching a single level of description, you may then filter your results by selecting the desired level from the list under the Level of Description heading.
browse archival description
Persons and organizationsPersons, families, and organizations (corporate bodies) are individually described entities in the Shared Catalogue. A list of all entities described in the Shared Catalogue will be retrieved if Persons and organizations is selected in the Browse or Browse by menus. Results can be narrowed by language and entity type (i.e. persons, families, and corporate bodies) by using the filters located on the left-hand side of the screen.
browse people and organizations
Repositories (archival institutions)The Shared Catalogue contains descriptions of the holdings of both the Records Management and Archives Department and the Libraries Special Collections. To browse the holdings of a single repository, click Repositories in the Browse or Browse by menus and select the name of the desired repository. Once selected, a list of associated archival holdings will appear under Holdings on the left-hand side of the screen.
browse repositories
SubjectsTop-level archival descriptions (i.e. fonds, collections) are also indexed by subject. To display a controlled list of subjects, select Subjects from the Browse or Browse by menus. By selecting a subject term, you will be provided a list of all archival descriptions to which that term has been applied.
browse subjects
PlacesTop-level archival descriptions are also indexed by place. Select Places in the Browse or Browse by menus to generate a list of geographic areas to which the records relate. Select a place name to display a list of all the archival descriptions related to that geographical area.
browse places
Digital objectsThe Shared Catalogue is used to describe individual items, some of which have attached digital objects (e.g. scans, MP3s). Select Digital objects from the Browse or Browse by menus to display all available digital objects.
browse digital objects



2. BASIC SEARCH

To conduct a basic search, input your query into the Search box at the top of the screen. By typing in keywords, names, or phrases, you are able to search all archival descriptions, persons and organizations, subjects, places, and digital objects catalogued in the Shared Catalogue. Basic searches will return results from both repositories.
browse places
Like Google, suggestions for matching terms will appear as you type. Results are broken down into various categories depending on your search. Your results may be divided into the following categories: archival descriptions, repositories (archival institutions), persons and organizations, places, and subjects.
browse places
Once you have obtained the results of a basic search, you may filter by repository, level of description, creator, person or organization, place, subject, genre, and media type.

To add precision to basic searches, use symbols when developing your query (see Forming Searches).



3. ADVANCED SEARCH

To conduct an advanced search, click inside the Search box and select Advanced search. This will bring you to the Advanced search interface where you may build custom searches queries.
advanced search
Input your query into the Advanced search box. Queries can be composed of single terms, a combination of terms, or phases.
advanced search interface
You are able to narrow your query by searching distinct sections of an archival description (i.e. fields). To narrow your search by field, use the drop-down menu below the Advanced search box.
advanced search interface




You are able to search the following sections of an archival description:

TitleTitles are assigned to descriptions at all levels (i.e. item, file, subseries, series, fonds). The title field provides insight into the content and subject of the description.
Archival historyArchival history, also known as Custodial history, provides information about the individuals that owned, transferred, and/or donated the records. This field provides information concerning the transfer of ownership of the documents.
Scope and contentThe Scope and Content field is used to describe the content of the document(s). The scope provides information about the functions and/or activities that resulted in the creation of the records, the subject matter of the records, the geographical area and time period to which the records relate. The content provides a summary of the principle record types (e.g. correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, manuscripts, interviews).
Extent and mediumThe Extent and medium provides information about the number, size, and type of document(s) found at all levels of description.
Access points (subject, name, and place)Access points are assigned to fonds and collection-level descriptions. Access points provide information related to the subject and creator of the records, and the geographical areas to which the records relate.
IdentifierAn ID number composed of a unique combination of letters and numbers. Identifiers are assigned to all levels of descriptions and are used to facilitate retrieval.



Use the Add new criteria button to build complex, multi-part queries. By using Boolean operators (i.e. AND, OR, NOT) you are able to further narrow or broaden your search by combining or excluding terms:

ANDCombines search terms. This narrows search results by returning only descriptions that contain both search terms.Irving AND teaching will return results that contain both search terms
boolean and
ORCombines search terms. This broadens search results by returning descriptions that contain either search terms.Concordia OR Loyola will return results that include either Concordia or Loyola
boolean or
NOTNarrows search results by excluding search terms.Concordia NOT Loyola will return results that contain the term Concordia but not the term Loyola
boolean not



To further narrow your search, use the Search filters located on the left-hand side of the screen.

These filters narrow your search by:
- Repository
- Top-level description (i.e. fonds or collection)
- Level of description
- General Material Designation
- Media type
- Copyright status
- Digital objects available



Advanced search filters




4. FORMING SEARCHES

The following symbols can be used to add precision to basic and advanced searches:

ANDUse to combine search terms to narrow your searchIrving AND teaching will return results that contain both search terms
&&Can be used in place of ANDIrving && teaching will return results that contain both search terms
ORUse to combine search terms to broaden your searchConcordia OR Loyola will return results that include either Concordia or Loyola
||Can be used in place of ORConcordia || Loyola will return results that include either Concordia or Loyola
NOTUse to narrow search results by excluding termsConcordia NOT Loyola will return results that contain the term Concordia but not the term Loyola
!Can be used in place of NOT Concordia ! Loyola will return results that contain the term Concordia but not the term Loyola
()Use to create research subgroupsConcordia && (research AND teaching) will return results that contain both the terms research and teaching, as well as Concordia
“ “Allows you to search exact phrases“La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse” will find “La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse” but not Powerhouse
*Multiple character wildcard allowing variations on a term to be searchedCollect* will return results for collect, collects, collection, collections, and collecting
?A character wildcard Wom?m will return results for women and woman
+Term after + must be in the result, while other terms may be in the result +faculty teaching returns results that must contain the term faculty, and may contain the term teaching
-Term after - must not be in the result, while other terms may be in the result-faculty teaching returns results that do not contain the term faculty, and may contain the term teaching



5. SEARCHING WITHIN A PARTICULAR FONDS OR COLLECTION

Use the Advanced search interface or Quick search box to search within a particular fonds or collection.

Advanced search interfaceSelect a fonds or collection from the Top-level description field on the left-hand side of the screen to narrow your search to a particular description. This will allow you to search within that fonds or collection only using the Advanced search box.
browse archival description
Quick search boxOnce a particular fonds or collection has been chosen, use the Quick search tab on the left-hand side of the screen and enter a term of phrase to search within the description itself. This will allow you to search within that fonds or collection only.
browse archival description



6. SEARCHING FOR PERSONS AND ORGANIZATIONS

Use the Persons and organizations search interface or the Browse menu on the left-hand side of the search box to search for individuals, organizations, and families.

To search for persons, organization, or families, click “Persons and organizations" in the Browse menu on the left-hand side of the search box or consult the Browse by menu on the left side of the screen (select Persons and organizations).
browse archival description
Enter the name of an individual, organization, or family. The search results will be restricted to descriptions of persons and organizations (authority records). Use quotation marks to add precision (i.e. "Henry F. Hall"). Click on the name of an individual, organization, or family, to obtain the authority record and list of related holdings (i.e. fonds, collections).
browse archival description


7. PRINTING FINDING-AIDS, FILE LISTS, AND ITEM LISTS

Finding-aids, file lists, and item lists, provide summaries of fonds or collections of interest.

File and item lists provide basic information about item and files, including reference code, title, date, and access restrictions. File and item lists can be generated at all levels of description, where applicable.

Finding-aids provide a detailed description of a fonds or collection in its entirety.

Both file and item lists and full finding-aids can be printed.

File and item listsTo view and print file or item lists, click Reports, located on the right-hand side of the screen. Select File list or Item list. You can then order the lists by: reference code, title, and date.
browse archival description
browse archival description
Full finding-aid (PDF)To download the finding-aid, select Download under the Finding-aid heading on the right-hand side of the screen. This will open the finding-aid in a new window.
browse archival description