Power Search

Basic Search will probably meet most of your needs. However, you will sometimes need the Power Search. Power Search is accessible through the Other Searches button on the top row of any page.

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Using multiple categories

Power Search makes it easy to combine categories (like author and title) and to limit searches by date, language, location, etc. The search in Figure 410, for example, specifies subject, bible passage, and location all in one search.

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Figure 410: Power Search Form

Search Limits and Options

Searches may be limited by date of publication, language of publication, item type (book, video cassette, etc.) and various other criteria. Here are specifics you do need to know about each limit field.

Publication year

Designate year ranges as follows.

symbol meaning example
> greater than >1980
< less than <1800
- range 1985-92

Dates are unknown or uncertain in some rare cases and may be designated as follows.

date in record meaning how to search by date
blank date unknown cannot
198? 1980–1989 198
18–– 1800–1899 18

These irregularities can result in surprises. For example, a search for publication year <1700 can retrieve a record with a 198? date because 198<1700. However, such problems are infrequent.


Language qualification is based on codes used in MARC 008 and 041 fields to designate the language in which the document is written. Nearly every record in the database has a language code. When a work consists of more than one language (e.g., a book of essays in many different languages), multiple codes may be listed in the database record, or only the predominate language may be indicated in the record. This can be misleading. For example, the Loeb translation and commentary on Aristotle's Categories is predominantly English, even though the Greek text is included, and English is the only language code assigned. Some language codes have not yet been mapped to language names, so you cannot search for every language in the database. Since the vast bulk of items in the database are English language, selecting English as an option is rarely helpful.


Location indicates where an item it shelved. You may wish to limit a search to Media Center or to Internet (yes, that's where ebooks are "shelved"). Location also indicates item status (e.g., on loan, missing). There are over 30 different locations for items. Some of the less obvious are as follows.

Location/status Meaning or significance
Reserve Circulation desk. Instructor has placed item on reserve to be used by all the members of a course.
Hold Shelf Circulation desk. Item is being held for pick-up by a specific person
Due:<date> Item is on loan, due back as stated. If all copies are in use, then you may place a hold on the item.
Reshelving Item was returned by a borrower in the last 24 hours and staff are in process of reshelving it. Item may already be back on shelf.
ON-ORDER Library has ordered the item (for purchase) but has not yet received it.
Cataloging/In-Process New item is in cataloging dept. If you need to use it for only an hour or two, request immediate access and you will be permitted to use it briefly, but you will not be allowed to take it out of the building. If you need to borrow it for extended use, request rush cataloging and it will be processed in a few days.
Missing Item has been reported missing. Staff find most missing items in less than 30 days. Please notify staff when you are unable to locate an item that is supposed to be on shelf. Staff will look for it five times over a period of 90 days. Then a replacement copy may be acquired if possible.

Item types

Item types are defined mostly to accommodate circulation rules and to make distinctions for statistical reasons; they are not intended to assist with searching per se. But this is an easy way to limit a search to video tapes or ebooks, for example.

Academic department

Each item in the collection is assigned to one department (e.g Old Testament or Christian Education). Department codes were designed to capture statistics about circulated items. Items were assigned codes in a hasty and somewhat arbitrary fashion when we first built the database; expect to find numerous errors. Nevertheless, this field can be used to improve precision of searches. For example, you could retrieve books about cross cultural communication in the world missions context by combining the subject term "communication" with the department of "World Missions". Inter-personal communication in marriage or counseling, for example, should be excluded by the World Missions option.

Match on: Keyword, Left-to-right, or Exact

The "match on" category can take one of three values: keyword, left-to-right, exact. This terminology corresponds to three ways of treating phrases. The "match on" option governs whether the search argument must match the retrieved field exactly (every word, left to right) or partially (initial words in the field from left to right) or on a keyword basis. The concept here is difficult to define but easy to illustrate.

Compare the following subject headings.

  • Church History
  • Church History––18th century
  • US––Church History––18th century

A keyword match search for "church adj history" would retrieve all three headings because the exact phrase "church history" is part of each heading. A left-to-right match search for "church history" would match the two headings which START with the phrase "church history". An exact match search for "church history" would retrieve only the first subject heading.

subject heading keyword? left-to-right? exact?
Church History y y y
Church History––18th century y y n
US––Church History––18th century y n n

The default is keyword and it is suitable for 99% of your searches. Why would you want to use the other options? Use the options to exclude unwanted items. For example, suppose you wanted general one-volume surveys of church history. The subject heading would likely be just that: >> Church History

An exact match would retrieve that exact heading and exclude other more specific headings which would not meet your needs like >> Church History––18th century >> US––Church History––18th century.

Consider one more example: a PowerSearch author search for . . .

Thomas, D. author

Which of the following records would this search retrieve?

author heading keyword? left-to-right? exact?
Thomas, D. y y y
Thomas, D. D. y y n
Thomas, David n y n
Thomas, David Daniel n y n
Griffith-Thomas, D. Daniel y n n

Each match option makes its special contribution.

Sort by

By default the system displays records approximately in order by publication date, most recent to oldest. When you execute a Power Search you can request the results be sorted by author (first author if there are multiple authors), title, subject (first subject if there are multiple subjects) or publication year. If you try to sort a large set you will receive an error message. Specific sort limits depend on your login privileges. Sorting slows your search. Alternatively, after you have completed your search, you can select specific relevant records (using the Keep button) and then pick Kept. You will then be able to sort the selected records by author, title or call number, and print or email them.

Advance to next chapter in tutorial.