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Keyword Searching in TIGER

Cast a Wide Net

You can’t really use the same strategy you use to find books by title or author when you want to find books on a particular topic. Subject searches can be useful in some circumstances, but often the best plan is to use a keyword search.

Keyword searches allow you to search across multiple fields of TIGER. If your word is in the author, title, subject, or notes field, you can find it with a word search.

Automatic Phrase Searching

The most important thing to remember about a word search is that TIGER treats multiple words as an exact phrase. This is unlike most internet search engines where you would have to put quotation marks to search as a phrase.

Example: if you were writing a paper about the pilgrimage to Mecca, you might try just putting in the words mecca pilgrimage. That is the kind of thing that would work fine in a Google search, but here you get zero results. That is because TIGER is looking for the exact phrase “Mecca pilgrimage” and can’t find it. If you search on mecca and pilgrimage you will find an assortment of books, videos, etc. with both those words in the title, author, subject, or notes.


You can use an asterisk to “truncate” words you search for. This means that you will find that word with multiple endings.

Example: if you are interested in medicine in the renaissance, you could do a word search on medicine and renaissance and find a good number titles in TIGER. But books you are interested in may have the words “medical” or “medicines” or “medicinal” in their titles and subjects instead of “medical.” If you instead search for medic* and renaissance you will find more than twice as many titles in TIGER.


All those drop-down menus under on the keyword search screen allow you to limit your search by material type (just videos, for example) or by where it’s located in the library (e.g., only special collections), as well as by language, date, year, and publisher. You can also control how the records are displayed, either by date (with the most recent items at the top) or in alphabetical order.

Example: people often want to browse a list of our videos. You can do that on the word search screen by entering just an asterisk in the search box, and setting the material type to “video.” You can either sort it by year or alphabetically; either way, it’s a long list.


You can do a lot more with the word search; take a look at the search tips on the keyword search screen for more information and more search techniques.