Advanced Search

The Advanced Search page gives you more control over your search. It can be reached through the Advanced Search link above the standard search box.

Search Terms


A simple search looks for the search terms anywhere in the item—in the title, author, subject, description, etc., and, in some cases, the full text. An advanced search allows you to specify where in the record to search.

The Search Terms section of advanced search contains two lines; you can use one or both. If you use both lines, only results that match both lines will be found (as if you had used the Boolean operator AND in your search).

The first drop down on a line allows you to specify what part of an item should be searched. The options are:

  • Any — This will search anywhere in the item’s indexed information and is equivalent to a simple search.
  • in the title — This will search only in the title of items.
  • as author/creator — This will search only in the author(s) of the items.
  • in subject — This will search only in the subject terms assigned to items. Note that depending upon the source of information about an item, it may not have a subject assigned, so this may not produce comprehensive results. (See What is in BU Libraries Search for more information on what is searched.)
  • Call number — This will search only in the call number of items (using the Library of Congress classification system). Generally, only physical items held by the library will have call numbers.  Searching by call number can be tricky.  To find an exact call number, be sure to follow this format: QH380. U54 1992 [note the space after the period and the lack of space after the initial letter(s)].  You can also search for all items within a wide range, like PR2767 or BF201.
  • ISBN/ISSN — This will search only in the International Standard Book Number or International Standard Serial Number of items. Generally, only books published in the last 30 or 40 years have ISBNs, and only periodicals (journals, magazines, newspapers) have ISSNs.
  • MeSH — This will only search for Medical Subject Headings.  Most items do not have MeSH.

The second drop down controls what is considered a match. The options are:

  • keywords — Will be considered a match if the text in the search box is found anywhere in the selected part of the item. For example, a search for in the titlekeywords • “Mockingbird” would find the book with the title To Kill a Mockingbird because “Mockingbird” is contained in the title.
  • exact phrase — Will search for a phrase as if you had used quotations around it. For example, a search for in the title • is (exact) • “To Kill a” would find the book with the title To Kill a Mockingbird as well as the article “To Kill a Male Drosophila“.
  • starts with — Will only be considered a match if the text in the search box matches the beginning of the selected part of the item. For example, a search for in the title• starts with • “to kill a” would find the book with the title “To Kill a Mockingbird.”  This option ignores initial articles–a, the, an, le, los, der–so that in the title• starts with • “basketball diaries” would find Jim Carroll’s book The Basketball Diaries.

The text box on each line is for entering the word, words, or phrase to search for. It can use the tricks discussed in Power Searching, including quotation marks for phrases, AND, OR, and NOT, and wildcards. If the box is left empty, that line of the search is ignored.

Search Filters

The search filters can be used to restrict the search to particular time periods or languages or to search in specialized collections.

Publication Date & Language

Publication Date Drop down

The Publication Date drop down allows the search to be limited to items published during a given period in the past. To find results in other time periods, first do a search without specifying a publication date and then use the Creation Date section of the Refine My Results side bar to limit the results.

Language Drop DownThe Language drop down allows the search to be limited to English, German, or French. To find results in other languages, first do a search without specifying a language and then use the Language section of the Refine My Results side bar to limit the results.

Search Scope


The Search Scope drop down determines what is searched by the advanced search.

All Library Resources, the default choice, is a broad search that includes books, journals, scores, video and audio recordings, and other physical items held by the library. The search also covers ebooks and ejournals owned by the library, as well as online material provided by the library from a variety of sources. All Library Resources searches the same items as a simple search, as described in What Is in BU Libraries Search.

The other choices for search scope include three special searches: Primo Central, Local Repository, and Course Reserves.

Primo Central

This option for scope searches only the Primo Central Index collection, as described in What Is in BU Libraries Search.

Local Repository

This option for scope searches only material held directly by Boston University Libraries; in particular, it does not include Primo Central Index. It does not include much of the online material available through the library and does not search for articles, even if they are inside journals owned by the library.

Course Reserves

This option for scope searches only those items that instructors have selected for limited use within one of the Boston University Libraries.