The library catalog and databases work differently than search engines like Google and Bing.
They won't correct spelling errors. They don't respond well to long search phrases because they do not search the full text of a website. Follow the tips on this page to get the best results from our library tools.
Short But Sweet
Truncation (aka wildcards)
You have to experiment with different search strategies when you are doing research. Sorry, there's just no way around it. can help you save time because they can improve your search results, but it's important to know when and why to use each one.
For example, let's use the research question "How do national parks contribute to biodiversity in the United States?"
Use when your research topic has more than one key term that must be present in all of your search results. In this example, use it to link the key terms "national parks" and "biodiversity" so that both concepts appear in all of your search results. Searching with gives you fewer results.
Use when your key term has synonyms which different authors may use interchangeably. In this example, use it to link the synonyms"biodiversity" and "biological diversity" so that you'll get results with either concept. Searching with gives you more results.
Use when your research topic is often closely associated with another concept you do not want information about. In this example if you are researching biodiversity and national parks, but do not want information about invasive species link the key term"invasive species" to the other key terms with so that you eliminate all results that include the unwanted concept. Searching with gives you fewer results.
Video created by Lexy Spry & Emily Wixson, Chemistry Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2008.
To find a print book, first identify the correct section of the library by checking the location of the book. Most books are in the "Main Collection" which is on the 3rd floor.
Reading LC Call Numbers
If you are unable to locate the book or the book is missing, ask for help at the Circulation Desk.