How to search

This service searches resources from the National Library of Scotland's main catalogue, Digital Gallery, Moving Image Archive and eResources (formerly called licensed digital collections), along with HATHI Trust Digital Library, JSTOR and other external resources. More information about what's available to search

Type your search terms in to the search box and click the Search button. You can use a range of techniques to improve search accuracy.


Working with results

  • You can refine your search using one or more of the options on the left of your results list
  • You can get more details about an item by pointing on its title
  • Your search results will display in relevance order, you can change from relevance to date (most recent or oldest)
  • You can save results for printing, emailing or exporting to reference/citation management software
  • You can start a new search with or without keeping your search refinements.

Here is part of a typical results screen, with some useful features highlighted:

Screenshot of search results page


For more advanced searches use the 'Advanced search' button.

Screenshot of advanced search page


Improve search accuracy

Catalogue refine for search results

To improve the accuracy of your searches you can use the following techniques.

Find items in the Library catalogue

If you are just looking for resources in the Library's main catalogue you can refine your results to 'Items in the library catalogue'.

Refining your search

You can use one or more of the options on the left to refine your search further. For example, if you want to refine your search to just films then select Film from the Content type section.

Screen showing film refine option

Search for a phrase

To search for a phrase, surround it with inverted commas. Phrase searching is useful if you know the exact title of a resource or if you know a full text resource contains a particular phrase.

Phrase in search box

Boolean searching

You can search using the Boolean operators AND, NOT and OR. The operators must be typed in capital letters.

Searches automatically default to use the AND, so the search cats dogs is in fact cats AND dogs.

Boolean search


Matching any single character
The question mark (?) can be used to find any single character in a search word. For example the search wom?n will find search results including woman and women.

Single character search

Matching multiple characters
The asterisk (*) can be used to find multiple characters in a search word. For example:

scot* will find scotland, scottish, scots, scotia

ch*ter will find search results including chapter, character, chorister

Multiple character search

Search specific fields

When you search, many fields are searched at the same time. You can specify results from a particular field by entering your search terms using a specific method. For example, publisher:(birnam) will find results that contain the word birnam in the publisher field.

The following fields can be searched using the method fieldname:(searchword)

Title, subject terms, author, publisher, publication title, volume, issue, language, notes, ISBN, ISSN, DOI, DEWEY

Fieldname search

Combining different searches

It is possible to combine different types of search. For example, you can combine a phrase search with a Boolean search, as well as using wildcards or searching for specific fields.

Combined search


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