Skip to main content
Montana State University - Home Montana State University Library - Home Ask the Library

CatSearch: Search Help

Performing Basic Searches

You can search very easily in CatSearch. Just type one or more words you are looking for and click the Search button.

CatSearch assumes that you are searching for all the words you type unless OR or NOT are specified between the words and phrases.

Once you are familiar with the basic CatSearch, you might want to try doing more with the Search panel or use the Advanced Search option. Both of these options offer numerous features for making your searches more precise and enable you to get results that are more useful.

How Can I Do More with the Search Panel?

You can do more than just a simple search with the Search panel. Try the following search options to get the best results for your search:

Searching for a Phrase

To search for a phrase, type quotation marks around the phrase. You can combine both words and phrases in your search.

If you do not enclose the phrase with quotation marks, the system will find items that contain the individual words in the phrase, regardless of whether these words are located next to each other in the order specified.

For example, to search for global warming as one term, type the following in the search box:

Searching for Any Specified Words or Phrases

You can search for items that contain at least one of the words or phrases you type in the Search box. To do so, type OR between the words or phrases.

If you search for words or phrases without specifying OR or NOT, CatSearch assumes that you are searching for all the specified words or phrases.

For example, to search for items with the word Irish or the word Celtic, type the following in the search box:

To use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) within search phrases, you must enter them in uppercase letters. Otherwise, CatSearch removes them and performs a simple search that includes all search phrases.

Excluding Words or Phrases

You can exclude items that contain specific words or phrases. To do so, type NOT and then type the word or phrase to exclude.

If you search for words or phrases without specifying OR or NOT, CatSearch assumes that you are searching for all the specified words or phrases.

For example, to search for items with the word Celtic and exclude any of these items with the word Irish, type the following in the search box:

Searching Using Wildcard Characters

You can include the following wildcard characters in your searches:

  • ?—enter a question mark to perform a single character wildcard search. For example, type wom?n to search for records that contain the strings woman, women, and so forth.
  • *—enter and asterisk to perform a multiple character wildcard search. For example, type cultur* to search for records that contain strings, such as culture, cultural, and culturally.

The system ignores wildcard characters placed at the beginning of search terms. For example, the system treats the search terms ?aying and *aying as if you had searched for aying.

Grouping Terms Within a Query

You can use parentheses to group terms within a query. For example, to search for Shakespeare and either tragedy or sonnet, type the following in the search box:

Selecting Your Search Scope

The search scope defines where the system should perform the search. A default search scope is predefined based on your login, usually corresponding to your major field of study or some other criteria set up by the institution. However, you can change the scope of your search by selecting one of the following search scopes:

  • Quick Search
    • Search all materials (both physical and electronic) the MSU Library has access to
  • Physical Items
    • Search only resources that are physically available within MSU Library
  • TRAILS 
    • Search physical materials that are available both at MSU Library and within partner libraries belonging to the TRAILS consortium 
  • Course Reserves
    • Search print materials that instructors have placed on reserve 

Browse Search

The Browse search allows you to browse library material (local material only) in order to find information of relevance quickly. You can browse material by author, title, and subject. In the results, you can click an underlined entry to see its associated records. It is also possible to browse by call number, which returns a list of associated records in brief format. Clicking a title displays its full record.

Your Space in CatSearch

Why Should I Login?

When you sign into CatSearch, you are able to do the following:

  • Set preferences for your current and future sessions. You can set your preferences so that they reflect the way you usually search, and save them for future sessions.
  • Save items you found and queries you submitted permanently to your favorites. You can pin items from your results list to your account and you can save queries that you have performed for future use.
  • Access external licensed resources. The institution offers licensed information resources to its users. Once you sign in, you can search and retrieve items from these additional resources.
  • Use library services. You can benefit from library services such as requesting or recalling items.
Why Should I Log Out?

You should sign out of CatSearch so that your searches remain private and your personal settings and favorites are not tampered with by anyone else.

My Account

My Account enables you to view the contents of your library card and perform library services, such as renewing a book or canceling a request. To access My Account, click the My Account link, which appears at the top of each page in Primo.