How to search

To perform the simplest kind of search, enter one or more words in the main search box at the top of the page and click 'Search'. The search will look in all our records for matches to the words you entered.

For more advanced search options, try using Advanced search.

Entering your search terms

Try these techniques to get the best results from your search.

To find: Type in:
the word dogs in a record dogs
the words dogs and cats in a record dogs cats
the exact phrase global warming "global warming"
items with either or both the words Celtic or Irish celtic OR irish
items with the word Celtic but not Irish celtic NOT irish
the words woman, women wom?n
the words culture, cultured, cultural, culturally etc.  cultur*
the word Shakespeare and either tragedy or sonnet shakespeare (tragedy OR sonnet)
all records with call numbers beginning with 994.05 994.05*

Limiting your search

Use the three drop-down menus under the search box to limit the scope of your search. For example:

  • search for all types of items or limit your search to just one type, such as books, journals or audio materials
  • search for words independently, search for an exact phrase, or search for titles that start with specific words
  • search for words appearing anywhere in the catalogue record, or in one part of it, such as the title or author field

You can also change the 'All collections' option on the right of the search box and limit your search to only digital material, only items on the open shelves, or only items that are maps, pictures or manuscripts.

Refining your search results

Check the links under the heading 'Refine results by' on the left of your search results. Here you can choose items with a particular subject, type of resource or other characteristic. The 'More options' link under each category allows you to select more than one option as well as exclude options.


  • Refine your search results to books on the open shelves in a particular reading room, such as the Redmond Barry Reading Room, which houses one of our main browsing collections, by making a selection under the 'SLV collection' heading in the left column. Alternatively, select 'Open access' for material in all the reading rooms, plus online items.
  • See the 'Language' heading in the left column to specify the language an item is in. For example, to find a book of German songs written in German, do a search on the word 'song', then refine your search results by selecting 'German' under 'Language', and 'Books' under 'Resource type'.
  • The 'Refined by' row above your search results shows the selections you have made to refine your search results. You can remove any of your selections from here by clicking on an 'X'.

Searching for titles

  • If you are looking for a title that has only one word (such as Vogue or Time), select the drop-down options 'using my exact phrase' and 'in the title', and type in the word.
  • If you are looking for a title that has two words and starts with an article (such as The Age), choose the drop-down options 'using my exact phrase' and 'in the title' and type in both words, including the article.
  •  If you are looking for a common journal title that has been published in different places, such as The Times or The Herald, choose the drop-down option 'in the title', and type the title in double quotation marks followed by the city (for example: "the herald" newcastle).
  • If you are using the 'I want to search' options to search for the start of a title, and you are searching for a title that begins with 'the', 'a' or 'an', omit the initial article from your search. For example, if you are looking for 'The Melbourne Morning Herald and General Daily Advertiser', search for 'melbourne morning' at the start of the title (without the word 'the'). You need to omit any initial articles when you are searching for the start of titles in languages other than English as well.