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Understanding OTAN's search syntax

Return to the search

OTAN's Library Search engine consists of two parts: a keyword search that matches all the words you enter, and a more detailed field-specific search that matches phrases in specific fields of our online catalog.


  • Our keyword search looks for library items that match all of your keywords. For example, entering "english literacy" looks for items with "english" or "literacy" or both, anywhere in the title, abstract, author(s), or publisher(s). Entering "literacy english" gets the same matches -- the order is unimportant.
  • You can use "AND" and "OR" in the keyword search to narrow the search criteria. This feature is not available when using the field-specific search.


  • Field-specific searches the field you request for a match on a phrase you enter. For example, entering "english literacy" in the field "title" looks for all items with "english literacy" anywhere in the title. Entering "literacy english" would look for items with the phrase "literacy english" in the title (and probably not find anything!).
  • You can enter single words, or parts of words, to improve your chances of finding match. For example, entering "liter" would match literacy, literary, liter, literal.....you get the idea.


  • You bet!
  • Suppose we are looking for articles about "literacy". We search for that, and get way too many matches -- there are over 1,000! We remember it was written and published by someone like "laubach" or maybe it was "laubauch". We enter "lau" in the author field. Now we are looking for articles about "literacy" with an author that has "lau" in the name. We get matches for Laura, Klaudia, Laurel, Laurie, and Laubach -- we found it!
  • In summary, the keyword search works much like Google does. If you have a better idea of what you are looking for, the field-specific searches can help you narrow down your search results to a few items that probably contain what you need. If you don't remember the exact spelling, try searching for part of the name or word, and add in a keyword or two to narrow down your results.