Catalog Help

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Searching Tips
Entering Search Terms
Most of the time, all you need to do is enter a word or phrase in the box labeled "Search For..." at the top of the page, and either press enter or click the magnifying glass to perform your search. There are some special techniques that you can enter in the Search box.
Phrase Searches
To perform a phrase search wrap the entire search phrase in quotes.

By putting double quotes around a set of words, you are telling the catalog to consider the exact words in that exact order without any change.
Wildcard Searches
To perform a single character wildcard search use the ? symbol. For example, to search for "text" or "test" you can use the search:

te?t

To perform a multiple character, 0 or more, wildcard search use the * symbol. For example, to search for test, tests or tester, you can use the search:

test*

You can also use the wildcard searches in the middle of a term.

te*t

Note: You cannot use a * or ? symbol as the first character of a search.
Fuzzy Searches
Use the tilde ~ symbol at the end of a Single word Term. For example to search for a term similar in spelling to "roam" use the fuzzy search:

roam~

This search will find terms like foam and roams.

An additional parameter can specify the required similarity. The value is between 0 and 1, with a value closer to 1 only terms with a higher similarity will be matched. For example:

roam~0.8

The default that is used if the parameter is not given is 0.5.
Promixity Searches
Use the tilde ~ symbol at the end of a Multiple word Term. For example, to search for economics and keynes that are within 10 words apart:

"economics Keynes"~10
Range Searches
To perform a range search you can use the [ ] characters. For example to search for a term that starts with either A, B, or C:

[A TO C]

The same can be done with numeric fields such as the Year:

[2002 TO 2003]
Boosting a Term
To apply more value to a term, you can use the ^ character. For example, you can try the following search:

economics Keynes^5

Which will give more value to the term "Keynes"
Boolean Operators
Boolean operators allow terms to be combined with logic operators. The following operators are allowed: AND, +, OR, NOT and -.

Note: Boolean operators must be ALL CAPS
OR Operator
The OR operator is the default conjunction operator. This means that if there is no Boolean operator between two terms, the OR operator is used. The OR operator links two terms and finds a matching record if either of the terms exist in a record.

To search for documents that contain either "economics Keynes" or just "Keynes" use the query:

"economics Keynes" Keynes

or

"economics Keynes" OR Keynes
AND Operator
The AND operator matches records where both terms exist anywhere in the field of a record.

To search for records that contain "economics" and "Keynes" use the query:

"economics" AND "Keynes"
+ Operator
The + or required operator requires that the term after the + symbol exist somewhere in the field of a record.

To search for records that must contain "economics" and may contain "Keynes" use the query:

+economics Keynes
NOT Operator
The NOT operator excludes records that contain the term after NOT.

To search for documents that contain "economics" but not "Keynes" use the query:

"economics" NOT "Keynes"

Note: The NOT operator cannot be used with just one term. For example, the following search will return no results:

NOT "economics"
- Operator
The - or prohibit operator excludes documents that contain the term after the - symbol.

To search for documents that contain "economics" but not "Keynes" use the query:

"economics" -"Keynes"
Filtering My Search Results
Using Filters
You can narrow your search results using filters that are shown in the left column of the search results page (or the Filter Results modal when using the mobile interface). Clicking one or more of the options listed will limit your search based on the criteria selected. The number shown in parentheses next to each option indicates the quantity of items available for a given category.

The filters you have selected appear at the top of your search results. You can remove an individual filter by clicking the X for that filter.
Can Filters Be Combined?
Yes. Clicking on several filters will further narrow your results set. For example, choosing Print book as a material type and Fiction as a literary form will limit your results to items that satisfy both criteria.
Using the Sort Function
Using the sort dropdown, which is located to the right of the total number of the search results, it is possible to order your search results in six different ways.

The default sort is by Relevance, which displays your results in order of their relevance to your search criteria. In other words, items that most closely match your criteria are displayed first.

You can also sort by Newest First or Oldest First, which orders your results from most current or oldest publication date.

Choosing to Sort by Author will arrange your results alphabetically by author last name. Likewise, Title sorts alphabetically by Title, omitting leading articles such as "A" and "The".

Date Added will order your results to show the titles most recently added to the library collection first.
Location Filter
The Location filter will limit your search results to the library locations selected. More than one location can be selected.

If you are in a library, that library will show at the top of the Location List, so that you can easily limit your search to items held there.

If you are logged in, your home, preferred, and/or alternate libraries will show at the top of the location list.
Material Type Filter
Limits your search results to the Material Type selected. For example, DVD or Blu-Ray. You can select multiple material types or a group of material types to include in your search results. To select an entire group of material types, click on the checkbox for that group. For example, clicking the Music checkbox will select Music CD, Music LP/Cassette, and Music Score material types.
Age Group Filter
Allows you to limit your search results to one of three age groups: Children, Teen, and Adult. These groups are based on shelving locations, so items may fall into multiple categories due to differences in shelving by library locations. Some items may not fall into any category if they are only shelved in general interest locations.
Fiction/Nonfiction Filter
Allows you to limit your search results to either Fiction or Non Fiction material, based on shelving location. Since most of the items shelved specifically as fiction or non-fiction are print books, this filter is effective primarily for print books. Other types of material (i.e. music, video, magazines) are not usually shelved as fiction or non-fiction and are generally not included in this filter.
Subject Filter
Allows you to limit your search results according to specific Subject terms. The Subject terms contained in a title's bibliographic record belong to a controlled vocabulary called the Library of Congress Subject Headings. Controlled vocabularies group similar items by subject, which makes them ideal for filtering your search results.

Because this list is designed to be browsed, it contains only a small subset of broad subject terms and not every possible subject is represented here. Combining a keyword search with the use of Subject filters may help narrow your results to a more specific subject.
Author Filter
Limits your search results to materials by a particular Author based on your search term.
Language Filter
Limits your search results to materials available in a specified Language based on your search term.
Added in the Last
This filter allows you to select items that have been recently added to the library catalog.
Other Topics
Other Search Options and Advanced Search
By default, the library catalog does a Keyword search, meaning that it searches for the word or phrase you enter in the search box in any of the information (i.e. title, author, description, notes) in the catalog. You can change the type of search that to search for only specific fields instead, such as Title, Author, Author/Artist/Contributor (helpful for music and video searches), or ISBN. To select one of these alternate search types, or Advanced Search, click the gear icon () just to the right of the magnifying glass icon (), and select a search type from the drop down menu.
Saving Searches
If you frequently do the same search, you can save your search so that you can easily rerun it. To save your search, click the gear icon () just to the right of the magnifying glass icon (), and select Save Search from the drop down menu. If you're not already logged in, you will be asked to log in first. You can view and run your saved searches from the Saved Searches page in your Account.
How to Place a Request
A request is an order for the first available item to be sent to the library you designate as a pickup location. The item will be held for you at that library, and you will receive an email or phone message (depending on your account preferences) that the item it ready to pick up. There are several ways that you can place a request.

  • Click the Request button on the Search results
  • Click the check box next to an item on a List or in your Book Cart, and at the top of the page, click the On Selected drop down menu and choose Request.

You can see the status of your requests on the Requests page on the Account menu. You can also cancel, freeze, and change the pickup location of your requests on this page.
Accessing EContent Items
The library catalog includes econtent items as well as physical material. To locate econtent items, you can filter your search results by material type and select econtent material type (i.e. eBook, OverDrive Listen, OverDrive MP3 Audiobook, Streaming Video), or you can filter by location and select the location Digital Collection.

  • Some items can be accessed directly from the library catalog. If this is the case, you will see links to the online version on search results and the details page.
  • Econtent items from OverDrive must be checked out before they can be accessed. If this is the case, the search results will display a Check Out button. Once the item is checked out, go to the Checked Out page and click Actions to either download the item or access it online.
Account
Accessing Your Library Account
When you are logged in, you can access the Account drop down menu at the top right corner of the page. Depending on the device you are using, the Account menu will either be labeled Account, or it will be the icon. You can use the Account menu to see what you have checked out, renew items, download ebooks, view/cancel/freeze your requests, view your reading history, and set your preferences.
Preferred Libraries
As a patron, you have the option to select two Preferred Libraries (in order of preference) where you would like to pick up your requested items. When these choices are specified, your first choice becomes the default pickup location for when you place a request. If you're logged in, your preferred libraries are also used in your search results in the following ways:

  • When you Filter Results by location, your preferred libraries show at the top of the list.
  • The initial search results screen will indicate if the title is available at your preferred libraries.
  • If the item is available at one of your preferred libraries, the Availability Details will show the copies available at your preferred libraries first.

To make these selections, go the Profile page from the main navigation menu. Click on the Preferred Libraries section and make your Preferred and Alternative Library selections. After choosing your preferences from the drop down menus, the catalog will save your settings and refresh the page.
Checked Out
Checked Out lists what you have checked out, when it is due, and how many times it has been renewed. The items are sorted by due date, with the items due soonest listed first. In the left panel, you can choose to show only overdue items, or only items due this week.
How to Renew Items
You can renew items that you have checked out on the Checked Out page. To go to the Checked Out page, log in at the top right corner of the page. Once you are logged in, click the Account drop down menu at the top right and select Checked Out. You can renew an individual item by clicking the Renew button. To renew multiple items at the same time, click the check box to the left of the items you want to renew, and then click Renew Selected at the top of the page. A popup box will indicate which items have been successfully renewed. An item will not be renewed if another user has requested it, or if there is the maximum number of renewals has been reached. The number of renewals permitted for an item varies by library. You cannot renew items if your library account has a problem, such as an expired card or unpaid fines above a certain amount. The Message Center on your account menu will usually indicate problems with your library account. Please call your local library to find out how to resolve your problem.
Requests
To go to the Requests page, log in at the top right corner of the page. Once you are logged in, click the Account drop down menu at the top right and select Requests. The Requests page shows your requests and their status.

  • The Pending status means that your request is waiting for an available item.
  • The In Transit status mean that an item is on its way to the pickup library.
  • Ready for Pickup means your requested item is being held for you at the pickup library.
  • Frozen
  • means that you're a holding your place in the queue of people waiting for this item, but the item won't be held for you until you unfreeze the request and you're the next person in the queue.

If a request is in Pending status, you can Cancel, Freeze, or Change Pickup Location for that request. To do any of these functions, check the box to the left of the request to select the item, and at the top of the page, click the drop down menu labeled On Selected, and click the desired action for the selected requests.
How to Freeze Requests
Freezing requests offers a way to avoid having your requested items expire when you are out of town or otherwise unable to them up from the library. If your request reaches the top of the queue while it is frozen, it will be skipped so that requests placed by other patrons can be filled. When you reactivate your request, you will be placed at the front of the queue.

There are two situations in which a request cannot be frozen:
  1. The request is more than 255 days old.
  2. The request is about to be filled (this means the item is available, on the holdshelf or in transit to the holdshelf.

To freeze a request, go to the Requests page from the main navigation menu. You can freeze requests by checking the appropriate boxes in the Pending section and choosing the Freeze option from the On Selected dropdown.
Lists and Book Cart
Lists and Book Cart enable you to save items of interest while you continue to browse the library catalog. These items will remain in your list from session to session. To save an item to a list or your book cart, simply click the Cart/Lists button found to the right of the item on the search results or the item detail page, then select your list or Book Cart from the menu. If you have not already logged in to your account, you will be prompted to enter your library card number and PIN. Once you log in, the item will be added to your list or Book cart.

To view your Lists or Book Cart, log in at the top right corner of the page. Once you are logged in, click the Account drop down menu at the top right and select either Lists or Book Cart. On the Lists page, you can click the name of the list in the left panel to view the contents of the list.

From your list or cart, you can remove or request items you have added. To remove a single item, click the Carts/Lists button, then click the list name to remove the item from that list. To request a single item, click the Request button. It is also possible to remove or request multiple items in your book cart at one time by using the checkboxes to the left and the On Selected button at the top of the page. Book Carts are limited to 300 items, and Lists are limited to 300 items for each list.
Reading History
You have the option to record the history of items that you have checked out. Reading history can be recorded only for physical items checked out from the library. Ebooks that you have checked out are not included in the reading history. Your checked out items are not recorded in Reading History until you turn it on. To turn it on, go to Reading History , and click the button labeled Enable Reading History. To disable Reading History, you must delete any items in your Reading History, and click Disable Reading History.

The Reading History displays 50 items at a time. To show more items, click Show More at the bottom of the page.

By default, the Reading History is sorted to show the most recently checked out items first. To change the sort to title or author, click the drop down menu at the top of the page and select a different sort option.

To delete titles from Reading History, check the box to the left of the titles you want to delete to select them, and click Delete Selected at the top of the page.
Saved Searches
The Saved Searches page allows you to view, run, and deleted searches that you have saved. To go to the Saved Searches page, log in at the top right corner of the page. Once you are logged in, click the Account drop down menu at the top right and select Saved Searches. Click the link for the search in the first column.
Profile
The Profile page allows you to view, and set preferences related to your account. To go to the Profile page, log in at the top right corner of the page. Once you are logged in, click the Account drop down menu at the top right and select Profile. Some information, such as name, address, library card number, home library, and expiration date is displayed for information only. Please contact your local library if you need to change this information.

  • To change your email or phone number, select click About Me in the left panel, and click the pencil icon to the right.
  • The Notification Preference indicates whether you would like to receive an email or phone call when an item is ready for pickup or overdue. The profile shows your current notification preference. Click the drop down to change it.
  • By default, physical items and econtent are shown together on the Checked Out and Requests pages. You can change this option if you would like to display physical items and econtent separately.
  • Select Change PIN to change your library card PIN number.
  • Select Preferred Libraries to select your Preferred and Alternate libraries. Your Home Library is based on your addresss. Please contact your local library if you need to change your address.
  • If you use econtent items from OverDrive, you can change your loan period for eBooks, Audiobooks, and eVideo on the OverDrive Options page.
Text Notifications FAQ
What are Text Notifications?
Text Notifications are an optional subscription service that enables subscribers to connect to their library accounts via text message. Users can receive notifications, renew checked out items, and request information about their requests, checked out items, and late fees with this service.

This is a free service offered to anyone registered at an Allegheny County public library. Depending on your cellular phone plan, additional per-message charges may be assessed by your carrier.
How do I sign up?
  1. Add (412) 459-7442 to your cellphone contacts. This is not required, but it is recommended.
  2. Simply text SIGNUP+your-14-digit-barcode+PIN to (412) 459-7442.

Please note, you must include the plus signs (+) between each element of the text.

Once you sign up, you will receive texts confirming your successful sign up and asking if you want to supply an email address as an additional contact. This is optional and will only be used to contact you in the event that your notices are undeliverable.
What types of notices can I get?
You can opt in or out of any of the following notice types by texting the associated keyword to (412) 459-7442. When you sign up you will be enrolled in request pickup, renewal, and overdue notices by default.

Notice TypeKeywordDefault
Request pickupHOLDSEnrolled
RenewalRENEWEnrolled
OverdueOVERDUEEnrolled
Late FeeLATEFEENot Enrolled

Additionally, all registered users will receive library card expiration notices 30 days before their library cards expire.

Text notifications are supplemental to existing notification methods (phone, email, regular mail) and you will continue to receive notices via these methods when you sign up for this service.
How can I renew items?
To renew individual items by list, text the keyword RL.

To renew all checked out items, text the keyword RA.
Is there a fee to sign up for this service?
Text Notifications are a free service offered to anyone registered at an Allegheny County public library. Depending on your cellular phone plan, additional per-message charges may be assessed by your carrier. Please call your carrier to inquire about any charges they might impose BEFORE subscribing.
Will I continue to receive library notices via email, US mail, or phone call?
Yes. Text notifications are supplemental to existing notification methods (phone, email, regular mail) and you will continue to receive notices via these methods when you sign up for this service.
I enrolled in Text Notifications but I am not receiving notices. What should I do?
The system is configured to send your confirmation messages within 60 seconds of receipt, but there may be an additional delay before your cell phone carrier delivers them. Though messages are usually delivered promptly (within 1 to 5 minutes), this is not always the case. If you have signed up and you have not received these messages after 4 hours, email einetwork.support@shoutbomb.com.
When are notices sent?
Notices are sent daily between the hours of 9:00 AM and 8:00 PM, however you can access your account information at any time using the keywords listed in the Keyword Quick Reference section under "How can I use this service get information about my account?".

Request Pickup Notices
Request pickup notices are sent when a requested item is available at your pickup location.

Late Fee Notices
If you opt in to late fee notices, you will receive notices the first notice when you owe $10 or more. Subsequent notices will be sent at 7 days, 14 days, and 21 days.

Renewal Notices
Renewal notices are sent 3 days before an item is due.

Overdue Notices
The first overdue notice will be sent when the item is past due. Subsequent overdue notices will be sent when an item is 7 days, 14 days, and 21 days overdue.

Library Card Expiration Notices
Library card expiration notices are sent 30 days before your library card expires.
How do I update my phone number to continue receiving text notifications?
Text SWITCHPHONE to (412) 459-7442 and follow the prompts.

We will check the following:

If you have just changed carriers (for example, from AT&T to Verizon).

In this case, you will receive 2 messages: one confirming the update of your user account and one looking up any messages sent in the last 7 days to redeliver.

If your phone number has changed.

In this case, Shoutbomb will request the patron barcode you used when you initially registered.

Once you provide this information, you will receive 2 messages: one confirming the update of your user account and one looking up any messages sent in the last 7 days to redeliver.
How do I add an additional library card to my text notice account?
To add additional cards, text ADDCARD to (412) 459-7442 and follow the prompts.

You will be asked to text the additional library card number you wish to add. If this is a valid card number, you will then be prompted to text the PIN associated with this library card number. If the PIN is valid you will receive a text confirming that you have successfully added the new card.
How do I remove a secondary card that I've added?
To remove a secondary card, text DROPCARD to (412) 459-7442 and follow the prompts.

If only one secondary card was added with ADDCARD, that barcode will automatically be removed from the account.
If multiple secondary cards were added, you will receive a response that associates each card number with an item number (1, 2, 3, etc.). Just respond with the item number associated with the barcode you wish to drop.

You will receive a confirmation message indicating that you have successfully removed the card.
How do I unsubscribe from Text Notifications?
Text QUIT+your-14-digit-barcode to (412) 459-7442.
How can I use this service to get information about my account?
Keyword Quick Reference

To receive information about your library account, text the following keywords to (412) 459-7442.

Keyword Description
SIGNUP+your-14-digit-barcode+PIN Sign up for text notices. Note that the plus signs (+) are required.
TEST Test your connection to the SMS service.
HL Request a list of items on hold.
OL Request a list of overdue items.
OA Renew all overdue items.
OI List overdue items not eligible for renewal.
RI List of all items not eligible for renewal.
RW List of items not eligible for renewal and why.
RA Renew all checked out items.
RL Renew individual items by list.
ADDEMAIL+your-14-digit-barcode Add an email address for additional verification.
DROPEMAIL+your-14-digit-barcode Remove email from card.
ADDCARD+14-digit-barcode Add an additional library barcode to your text notice account.
DROPCARD+14-digit-barcode Remove any secondary library barcode from your text notice account.
HELP Lists keywords.
RESEND Sends last message.
QUIT+your-14-digit-barcode Unsubscribe from text notification service.
SWITCHPHONE Change your phone number.
MYCARDS Lists registered cards.
Online Content
Online Content
Your library card enables you to access eBooks, Audiobooks, music downloads and many other types of eResources from various sources. For more information, including access details, supported devices, and more, visit the Allegheny County Library Association's eResources page.

Some of these items, including OverDrive and OneClickdigital resources, can be discovered by searching the library catalog but require you to set up a free account on another site in order to access them. See below for information on accessing these items through the online catalog.
OverDrive
Click the Checkout button to the right of the item information on the search results or item detail page. If you are not already logged in to your account, you will be prompted to enter your library card number and PIN. If your checkout has been successful, a message banner will appear at the top of the page letting you know that the item has been checked out and available for download from your Checked Out page. You can go to this page at any time by clicking the link from the main navigation menu.
OneClickdigital
Accessing OneClickdigital items requires setting up a free OneClickdigital account. It is recommended that you do this before searching the catalog for OneClickdigital items. To do this, click here to go to the OneClickdigital site and click the Create New Account link in the upper right hand corner.

To access OneClickdigital items from the library catalog, click the Access Online button to the right of the item record on either the search results page or the item detail page. This will take you to the OneClickdigital item information page. From there click Checkout Now! and you will be prompted to log in with your OneClickdigital credentials.
Other Online Resources
You might also encounter materials such as digitized images, government documents, and public domain eBooks in your library catalog search results. These items can be accessed by clicking the Access Online button to the right of the item information on the search results or item detail page, or by navigating to the item detail page and clicking the link at the bottom of the record. Some of these items may require you to hold a valid library card for access.

Click here for more information about these and other eResources available from your library.
Advanced Searching Tips
Search Fields
When you first visit the Advanced Search page, you are presented with several search fields. In each field, you can type the keywords you want to search for. Search operators are allowed.

Each field is accompanied by a drop-down that lets you specify the type of data (title, author, etc.) you are searching for. You can mix and match search types however you like.

The Match setting lets you specify how multiple search fields should be handled.

ALL Terms - Return only records that match every search field.
ANY Terms - Return any records that match at least one search field.
NO Terms -- Return all records EXCEPT those that match search fields.

The Add Search Field button may be used to add additional search fields to the form. You may use as many search fields as you wish.
Search Groups
For certain complex searches, a single set of search fields may not be enough. For example, suppose you want to find books about the history of China or India. If you did an ALL Terms search for China, India, and History, you would only get books about China AND India. If you did an ANY Terms search, you would get books about history that had nothing to do with China or India.

Search Groups provide a way to build searches from multiple groups of search fields. Every time you click the Add Search Group button, a new group of fields is added. Once you have multiple search groups, you can remove unwanted groups with the X button in the top right corner, and you can specify whether you want to match on ANY or ALL search groups.

In the history of China or India example described above, you could solve the problem using search groups like this:

In the first search group, enter "India" and "China" and make sure that the Match setting is ANY Terms.
Add a second search group and enter "history."
Make sure the match setting next to the Add Search Group button is set to ALL Groups.