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How to search

The easiest way to search our catalogue is to type a word or two in the main search box at the top of the page and hit enter or the magnifying glass symbol. It’s just like searching Google, only you'll be looking in the State Library's collections.

There are more search options available in Advanced search.

Entering your search terms

Here are a few tips that can help you with your search.

To find:Type in:
things about dogsdogs
things about both dogs and catsdogs cats
the exact phrase global warming"global warming"
things with either or both the words Celtic or Irishceltic OR irish
things with the word Celtic but not Irishceltic NOT irish
the word globalisation or globalizationglobali?ation
the words culture, cultured, cultural, culturally etc.cultur*
call numbers beginning with 994.5994.5*

From the colourful search bar, you can set some quick limits or filters on your search. For example, you might only want things that are on the shelf, or only pictures, or only things from a particular time period. Use the drop-down boxes to choose your limit.

After you've done a search, you can still set these quick limits and you can also refine your search.


Everything except articles – All formats listed below, except articles.
Articles – Journal, magazine and newspaper articles from our subscription databases; also see our eresources.
Books etc – Includes ebooks, pamphlets, sheet music and more. Excludes maps, pictures and manuscripts.
eBooks - Downloadable electronic books
Journal & newspaper titles – A quick way to see if we have a title, in print or electronically.
Pictures & photographs – Paintings, sketches, posters and photos; many are available online.
Maps – Maps, charts, plans and atlases; many are available online.
Manuscripts – Unpublished papers, letters and diaries; also includes some of the lists that describe the contents of manuscript collections.
Multimedia – Audio and video recordings and streamed content.
Find on shelf – Items you can find on the open shelves in the Library's reading rooms.
Online – ejournals, ebooks, websites, streaming audio and video, digitised material.
Creation date – Set start/finish dates for when an item was created or published – this doesn't work well for things published over a period of time, such as journals.
Find on shelf – Items you can find on the open shelves in the Library's reading rooms.
Children's browsing collection – books for 0-12 year olds available in our Pauline Gandel Children's Quarter.

Refining your search results

On the right of your search results, you'll see the heading 'Refine results by' with groups of links underneath. These links let you quickly choose items with a particular subject, type of resource, author or other characteristic. To select more than one option or exclude options altogether, use the check boxes to the left and right of each link in the groups. Apply the filters to make your selections. The active and excluded options appear at the top of the right hand side panel.


  • Looking for things you don't have to request from storage? Under the 'SLV collection' heading, choose 'Find on shelf'.
  • Looking for things in a particular language? Look for the 'Language' heading and click on the language you want. These items will usually be in storage.
  • If you type in a general subject, such as ‘management’, you'll find way too many things that mention the word 'management' somewhere. Use the 'Subject' heading to find items that are mostly about your topic.
  • You can make more than one refinement by selecting multiple links. You can also take them off – just look at the top of the results and click on the 'x' next to the refinement you want to get rid of.
  • Select one, several or all results to export full catalogue record details to Excel.

Searching for titles

Titles can be a bit tricky, especially if they are journal or magazine titles or common titles.

  • If you're looking for a textbook with a one-word title such as 'Accounting', it helps to know something else; for example, the author, edition or publication year. 
  • If you're looking for a common title that has been published in more than one place, like The Herald, add the city where it was published (for example: herald newcastle).

Entering numbers for items

There are lots of different numbers used to describe items in libraries, from ISBNs and ISSNs to accession numbers and call numbers.

  • To find an ISBN (a unique number assigned to a book) or ISSN (a unique number assigned to a journal or magazine), just type the number in the search box.
  • To find an accession number (a unique code given to a manuscript item) or an image number (a unique code given to a picture), just type the number in the search box.
  • To find a call number (shelf location), leave out any letters that come before the first number. Include any letters towards the end. For example, for the call number S 305.52 M33N, enter 305.52 M33N. Alternatively, use the browse search.