Short Guide to Searching BIBLOS

Here are the basics in extremely compressed and incomplete form. For additional information, see the Long Guide to Using BIBLOS.

Summary of search operators

Use any of the following operators to combine search terms.

Operator Search Example Result
and church and state And retrieves only records containing both terms
or clergy or pastor Or retrieves records containing either term
not spirit not holy Not excludes records containing the second term. It is very easy to accidently exclude desired material, so use not cautiously and sparingly.
xor 'cherry pie' xor 'banana split' Xor retrieves records containing either term but not both. When mother says to child "You may have cherry pie or a banana split" she means xor: "but not both cherry pie and a banana split." You will never need to use this operator.
? wom?n
The question mark (?) matches any single character. Wom?n will match woman or women. 17?? will match any date in the 1700's. You will rarely need to use this operator.
$ religio$ The dollar sign ($) truncation operator matches 0 to 100 characters. Many databases use the asterisk (*) for the same purpose. So eschato$ will match words beginning with the letters 'eschato', including eschaton, eschatology, eschatological, etc. Eschato$4 will match eschaton, eschatology . . . (up to a maximum of 4 letters after the o in eschato) but not eschatological or other long words past the 4 character limit. Lab$r will match labor and labour. It is easy to include more than you intend when you use $.
same infant same baptism Same matches terms in the same field, any distance apart, in any order. In other words, all the target words must be in the same author field or the same subject heading or the same title, etc. The example at left matches the title >> Studies in infant baptism. It also matches the title >> Covenant baptism: scriptural authority for the sprinkling of infants. Same is the default operator.
near spirit$ near4 filled Near specifies maximum distance between words in the same field, any word order. The example specifies a maximum distance of four words (near4). It matches "Spirit filled" (one word apart) as well as "filled with the Spirit" (3 words apart). Near (no number) = Near1 (one word apart). The closer words are to each other, the more likely they are to be relevant to each other. Use near for precision.
adj infant adj baptism The adjacency operator is similar to near: it specifies maximum distance between words in same field, but it also specifies word order. So you can use it to match an exact phrase like 'infant baptism'. Append a number to specify maximum distance as >> romans adj4 viii which matches Romans vi-viii.
with faith with works Example retrieves records with faith in the same sentence as works, where sentence = a series of words terminated by final punctuation and two spaces or end of field. Don't use this operator because bibliographic records do not consist of sentences. (This unused operator is just a feature of the underlying BRS software that is useful for full-text searching.)
( . . . ) God and ( grace
or mercy )
Parentheses may be used to group terms together into sets and subsets. BIBLOS processes terms within parentheses before processing other parts of the search statement. In the example at left, grace would be ored together with mercy. Then that intermediate result would be anded with God. Logical operators may be combined with proximity operators:
pray$ near4 (group$ or meeting$)
two or more words with no operator specified new age Defaults to the same field operator. So >> new age is identical to >> new same age. BIBLOS does not default to exact phrase match.
double quotation marks ( " ) have "not" heard Double quotation marks indicate the enclosed words should be processed as search terms, not as operators. In the example, the word not is a search term, so the search would match a title like >> They have not heard.
single quotation marks ( ' ) 'new age' Single quotation marks usually force an exact phrase match (like the adj operator). However, it is best to use adj for phrases because there is a bug in the way single quotes are processed. For details, see Long Guide.
{ . . . } Bock{AU} and Luke{630} When you use the "everything" category, curly braces may be used to specify a particular MARC field or predefined group of fields. In the example, AU searches all author fields, and 630 is the MARC field for Bible passages. See Long Guide for details.

Search Tips

Bible searches require special notation. The Library of Congress uses Roman numerals for chapters of the Bible and Arabic numerals for verses. To find material on 2 Cor 3:18 you should search like this:

2nd Corinthians iii 18 BiblePassage

Because of the way failed searches are handled by the software, we advise you to enter last name first if you are searching for a name.

Case makes no difference. Upper and lower case letters are treated identically (e.g. caTS aNd DOgs).

The Other Searches menu option branches to the Power Search form which enables you to combine categories. It looks like this:

author swindoll and
title ox cart

If BIBLOS responds to your search with an "Item not found" message, then check your spelling/typing. This is the most common cause of failed searches. If you still have problems, don't hesitate to ask for help. Reference staff may suggest alternative search terms or different databases.

Selecting good search terms is usually the key to retrieving what you want. Learning to pick good terms is far more important than learning to use complex syntax. Use of simple and, or, same and near will usually get what you need.

See also Long Guide table of contents.

Exercises and Homework

Looking for a BIBLOS homework assignment? See assignments here.