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Searching for Online and Print Information Sources: Catalog Searching

This LibGuide is designed to provide tips and suggestions for searching for online and print information sources, especially for research assignments or research for publication. Most of these strategies might be called "recipe guides" because they offe

Page Overview

This page describes Houston Cole Library's online catalog JaxCat  and offers instruction on how to perform JaxCat searches from basic to more sophisticated.

Searching JaxCat Online Catalog

What is JaxCat and what does it do?

JaxCat is Houston Cole Library's online catalog.  It can identify and provide location information for materials the library owns.

  • books, journals, magazines, newspapers
  •  CDs, DVDs, LPs
    • records are for "whole" items (the complete thing front to back)
      • databases are not included because, except for a few JSTOR collections, the library does not own them but pays subscription fees
      • locating "partial" items -- book chapters, essays, or journal articles -- may require the use of an intervening finding tool such as a bibliography, database, or index

Setting up JaxCat for searching

 Linkpath: (JSU Home) ~ (Library Home) ~ JaxCat  (radio button) 

You do not have to enter anything in the search box for your initial JaxCat search; just click on the <Search> button

  • a screen will appear which, via tabs and a dropdown menu, displays all search modes available in JaxCat 

Searching JaxCat (known items)

What are "known item" searches?

Known item searches usually are for specifics: a list of works by an author or the title of a specific primary or secondary source.

NOTE:  For all modes of JaxCat searching, before performing the search look at the Search Tips just beneath the search window.

Author search (use Author tab): used to find an item or items created by a person, persons, or a corporate author

  • enter name (last name first order)
    • capitalization and comma after last name do not matter; spelling and inverted name order do
  • books will appear in results list in alphabetical order by title

Title search (use Basic tab along with True Title option in right side dropdown menu): used to see if Houston Cole Library owns or has (electronic) access to a particular book, CD, DVD, newspaper, etc.

  • most precise search available and often harvests a single result
  • correct spelling is important; capitalization is not
    • if first word of title is an article (a, an, the), do not include it in the search
    • do not search for minor titles (titles which in print would be enclosed by quotation marks); JaxCat has no records for minor titles and will return a null set



Library Catalog Basic Search

Basic search in the Houston Cole Library catalog. 

Search Catalog: by:

Advanced Search

Searching JaxCat (unknown items)

What are "unknown item" searches?

Unknown item searches seek to harvest books about something, to generate a list of "unknowns" that leads to a list of known items (specific titles and authors).

Subject search (use Subject tab): used to find information about something or someone

  • uses pre-set, "controlled" vocabulary 
    • more precisely focused but less flexible than Advanced/Keyword search
      • returns fewer search results than A/K search
    • uses headings and subdivisions based on Library of Congress Subject Headings
  • type subject term in Search box (last name first order if subject is a person); <search>
  • consider appropriate sub-headings , if available, in the results list scroll-down (e.g., criticism and interpretation, moral and ethical aspects); <search> 
  • books in results list will appear in reverse chronological order, most recent to the top

Keyword search (use Advanced tab): 

  • most flexible JaxCat search (can mimic all the other JaxCat searches by using dropdown menu)
    • not dependent on pre-set controlled search vocabulary
      • user can enter search term(s) s/he chooses
  • enter terms in Search box(es )
    • select option from dropdown menu
      • all = every word in the search box must be present in the item record for the book to be harvested
        • will produce the smallest number of initial search results
      • any = any of the terms in the search box present in the item record will cause the book to be harvested
        • will produce the largest number of initial search results
      • as a phrase = for multiple word search terms
  • set Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) <search>
  • add search terms to refine results <search>
    • consider truncation 
      • in JaxCat, the truncation symbol is the question mark (?); do not use the asterisk, which is reserved for databases
        • stands in for other characters not typed and permits piggy-backing multiple searches into a single search
          • for example, psychol? will piggy-back psychology, psychologies, psychologist, psychologists, psychological
  • books in results list will be in reverse chronological order

Caveat:  In both Subject and Advanced search, do not search for minor titles (titles which in print would have "quotation marks" around them).  JaxCat contains very few records for minor titles, and searching for information on these titles more often than not will sabotage the search.  There are other ways to access minor titles; ask your librarian for help.

Expanding search results in Subject/Advanced searches

  • subject line in catalog record opens an infinitely expansible daisy chain that can increase JaxCat search results
    • clicking on a book title from the Results List will bring up the full record screen for that book
      • clicking on a heading from the list of subjects in that record will bring up a list of  books topically related to the first book
      • clicking on a heading from one of the related books will bring up a new list of books with their own subjects 
        • and so on



Search Limiters and Relevance Checks

Adding Limiters  to Advanced Searches 

Advanced is the most flexible of all the JaxCat searches 

  • can replicate all the other searches
  • ,can incorporate  limits and filters for refining searches not available in other search modes
    • see below for details or go to

Add Limits (Optional)

Selected List of Limiters

Language: limits results to those languages selected from the dropdown menu

Library Location: limits results to those at a physical place (one of the locations listed within the menu)

  • Examples: Juvenile Collection, Reference Collection

Date of Publication: confines search results to materials published in a single year or span of years

Types: pertains to the content type of the information source; Electronic Resources is the most comprehensive way to select online materials such as videos and is particularly useful when searching for e-books.

Format: overlaps to some degree with Types; pertains to how the information source is packaged

Place of Publication: identifies geographic origin of information source

Relevance Trifecta

The relevance trifecta is a way to assess how useful a particular book may be for your research.  First, perform an initial Subject/Advanced search to obtain a results list of titles, then click on a title from the list to get to the item record for that book.

  • First match: title or subject headings for the book against your search term(s)
  • Second match: Full Record View in the upper right-hand corner of the screen, an expanded record for the book which often includes the Table of Contents

    • compare ToC against search terms

  • Third match: "About This Book" link in the lower right of the screen links to Google Books and includes the jacket blurb (here functioning as an abstract), which offers further insight into the book's usefulness for your research

Seek matches with your search terms at all three levels to assess relevance; the more matches, the higher degree of relevance.

Field Searches in JaxCat Advanced Search

What are Field Searches?

Field searches allow you to search select parts of a book's bibliographic record rather than having to search the entire record.  They increase the precision of a JaxCat search. 

In JaxCat Advanced Search

  • the center dropdown menu allows you to manipulate search terms
  • the right hand (within) dropdown allows you to filter results by field
    • can increase relevance
    • can reduce number of search results


Series Searching


Perform a JaxCat search.

  • click on a title from the results list
  • if there is a series line in the book's full bibliographic record, click on the hyperlink
    • this should generate a results list of all the books in that series owned by Houston Cole Library

To learn all the books in a series

  • copy/paste the series title into a Google Basic Search box <search>
    • among the results list should be a link either for the series itself or the publisher (which should lead to a link for the series)
    • there may be other books in the series that might interest you

NOTE: At Jacksonville State University, students have interlibrary loan privileges.