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Tutorial: TOPCAT, the Library Catalogue: Search Titles

An essential tutorial for understanding how to find what's in our Library.

Searching TOPCAT by Title

Searching by Title

The quickest ways to search TOPCAT are by title and author. Use these if you have specific items in mind, like when your Prof recommends a book or an author.

Here's what the homepage of TOPCAT looks like.

  • It's the default search page.
  • If you enter your search term(s) and press <enter> it performs the default search, which is a keyword anywhere search.  This tutorial shows you how to make your searches more precise.

screen capture of TOPCAT homepage

Title Browse

Browsing by title is usually the most efficient search, because the title is probably the most unique part of the item you want to find.

  • Use this search if you know a title of a specific item.

To browse for a title:

  1. Select Browse as a "Search Type".
  2. Enter the first few words of the title - enough to make it unique. (Leave out "A", "An", or "The" at the beginning of the title.)
  3. Click on the title button.

When you do this, TOPCAT provides an alphabetical list of ALL titles in the database, starting where your title should appear.

  • The closest match appears at the top of the list.
  • Move through the list using the "Previous" and "Next" buttons on the top menu.
  • The number to the right of each title shows how many items we have with that title.
  • Click on a title to see the full description.

Periodical Titles (Journals, Newspapers, Magazines)

Look for journals, newspapers, and magazines by title, too. 

  • Remember to use the journal title, not the article title - because TOPCAT isn't specific enough to list individual articles within journals.

Select the "periodical title" button insead of "title", to limit your search to eliminate books and other non-periodicals. 

  • This is not required: a "title" browse finds ALL titles, including periodicals, but a "periodical title" browse finds only periodicals.
  • It's a way to limit your results, since periodicals can often have general titles - like Nature, for instance.  (A lot of titles start with the word "nature".)

Reserve Item Titles

Even if the item is on Reserve, you can find it with a title browse.

Other ways to find items on Reserve are under the "Reserve" tab.

Other Places to Browse

You can browse a list of subject headings, authors, or series titles. Use the button that applies to your search.

Example of a Title Browse

Let's look for a book entitled Castles, battles, & bombs : how economics explains military history.

Give it a try yourself.  Link to TOPCAT.

  • Choose "Browse" as the "Search Type".
  • Enter "castles battles" in the "Search For" box, to find every title beginning with these words.  There's no need to add any words after that.
  • Click the "title" button.

screen shot of title browse for "castles battles"

The results show us the list of titles, starting with the closest match.

  • There are two items with this title.
  • Click the title to see more details.

screen capture of results

Now we see that they're the same book, but one is an e-book and the other is print.

  • To access the e-book, click on the link at the bottom of the record.
  • To access the print book, see that the location is Bata Library, stacks.  Get the call number and find it in the Library.
    • Call numbers and locations are covered later in this tutorial.

screen capture showing te results list

Practice

Try searching for the title of any other book you can think of, to get some practice.

Keyword Title Search

You can also search for a title by keyword. It's not as specific as a browse, but it's useful if you don't know the correct title exactly.

To Keyword Search for a Title:

  1. Select Keyword as a "Search Type".
  2. Enter any word from the title.
  3. Click on the "Title" button.

You'll be shown a list of all the items in TOPCAT with that word somewhere in the title. 

The results look different from a browse search:

  • You're not using an existing list - you're creating your own list.
  • They're not in alphabetical order - they're by date, newest first. 
  • They include ONLY titles containing the search term somewhere in the title.

Multiple Words from the Title

You can shorten the list of results by entering several search terms with "and" between them.  TOPCAT will find titles that include all the words you enter.

Example: grass and grows and rivers

  • This search finds all the titles that include all three terms.  There' is only one book: Treaty six : "...for as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the rivers flow..." : Saskatchewan and Alberta 100 years, 1876-1976.

The Keyword Searching tutorial provides more detail on joining search terms.  It's the next tutorial you should read, but there's a link below in case you want to peek at it now.

From Your List

Look through the results and click on items that look useful to find out more about them.

  • Your results include a variety of formats, both online and hard-copy (physical). 
  • Write down call numbers (discussed later in this tutorial) for physical items to find in the library, and follow links to online resources.
  • Use the options for "Find more on these topics" or "Nearby on shelf" to find more items.

We can find every item in the library with the word "castles" in the title.

  • Select "Keyword" as the "Search Type".
  • Enter "castles" in the "Search For" box.
  • Click the "title" button to identify where the term should appear.

screen capture of keyword search for "castles" in the title

The results include over 151 titles with the term "castles" in them.  They're shown in order of date, with the most recently added first.

  • Move through the pages of results using the navigation at the top.
  • Each item is shown with a brief record; click on the title to see details.
  • An icon displays the type of material: in this case a thesis, e-book, and print book.
  • E-resources include a link to the item at the bottom of the record.
  • For print items, find the call number and location and to obtain them.
    • Call numbers and locations are explained later.

screen capture of results

Practice

Try some other keyword title searches.  Either look for a book you already know exists, or just enter a few keywords, click title, and see what you find.

Look for journals by title, too.  Remember to use the journal title, not the article title - because TOPCAT isn't specific enough to list individual articles within journals.

  • Select "Browse" or "Keyword" as the "Search Type".
  • Enter the first few words of the journal title (for browse) or some important words from the title (for keyword).
  • Click on the "title" button to find ALL titles with those terms, or "periodical title" to limit your results to ONLY periodicals with those terms in the title.
    • Either way you'll find it, but "periodical title" will eliminate all the books, giving more precise results.

screen capture of periodical title browse

Practice

Enter some keywords and search for periodical titles, to see what you can find.

Tips for Title Browse

  1. You don't need the entire title: the first few words will usually get you there. But you must start at the beginning of the title.
  2. The exception to #1 is that you don't need to type "a", "an", or "the" at the beginning of the title. (You do need to include it within the title.)
  3. You don't need to use capitalization or punctuation.
  4. Spelling counts. TOPCAT doesn't interpret; it only looks for the letters you specify. Be sure you have the correct spelling, wording, and order.  If you're not sure, use a keyword search.

Tips for Keyword Searching for a Title

  1. Choose unique words from the title, to limit your results.
  2. Enter 2-4 words at most.  That should be enough.
  3. If you're not sure of a word (or whether it's plural), leave it out.
  4. See the Keyword Searching tutorial for more help with selecting keywords.
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