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Basics Go to the top of the window


You can navigate the Web OPAC by using the buttons on your Web browser as well as the navigation buttons on the Web OPAC screen.

A screen is made up of two frames. The top frame shows the menu bar. This frame appears on every screen and offers the key functions and user options for the system. The large lower frame displays various search options along with screens that display results.


Sign-in verifies your Patron information and allows you to see your personal library information and display options. You do not need to sign in to use the Web OPAC.

Types of Searches

There are five different Search types available in Web OPAC: Basic; Multi-base; Multi-field; CCL; and Advanced Search. To choose a particular type of Search, click the relevant link from the Search screen. For more information, see the Search section.

Web Browser Requirements

You need a Web browser (e.g. Internet Explorer 5.x or higher; Netscape 6.2 or higher) configured to support Unicode-based characters. Windows users need Windows 95 or higher with appropriate Global IMEs (input method editors) installed. Macintosh users need OS9.x with the appropriate language packs installed or OS X.

Basket Go to the top of the window

The Basket function lets you select records to be saved in a temporary buffer. You can add records to the Basket from the Full view and from the results list. This option depends on the permission defined in your patron profile and on the library setup.

From the basket you can:

  • Save records on your PC

  • Save records on the server

  • Send records by e-mail to a specified address

  • Notify the Course Reading administration about new records that you need for courses.
To view the contents of your basket, click Basket from the menu bar.

The Basket is automatically emptied when your session ends.

Browse Go to the top of the window

The Browse search allows you to search the catalog in alphabetical or numerical order, like a dictionary. Your search, if successful, will result in an alphabetical/numerical list. You can then browse forward or backwards through that particular list or index. You do not have to use uppercase.

To search by browsing:

Choose the index you want to browse through, then enter the text from which you would like to start browsing. This text will appear at the top of a scrollable list. For example, entering the letter a will give you an alphabetical list starting at the letter a. Entering the word great will give you an alphabetical list starting with great.

Brief Records Display Go to the top of the window

In a Browse list, you can click a button to retrieve a list of works related to the heading. Note that the button is active only if the highlighted heading has related brief records.

Browse List Go to the top of the window

The Browse List displays the number of records for each entry and indicates whether or not there are cross-references for the entry. Click on an underlined entry to see the associated records for the entry. There are three ways to go to a Browse List:

  • By using the Browse function and choosing an Index to browse. After typing in the text that you want to appear at the top of the list, the Browse List will be displayed.

  • By using the Search function. When viewing a record, you can click on an underlined tag and receive a Browse List of entries for the tag. For example, if you click on the Author tag, an alphabetical list of authors appears, with the current author at the top of the list.

  • While viewing a list of cross-references. Clicking on an underlined tag will present a Browse List. For example, clicking on the Heading tag will present an alphabetical list of entries with the current heading at the top of the list.
Character Sets and Unicode Go to the top of the window

The catalog records are encoded in the Unicode character set. Unicode allows for the display of a large range of alphabets and diacritics (also known as accent marks) and special characters.

Displaying non-English Characters If you are seeing strange characters in some of the Web OPAC records, it may be because of your browser. There may be titles in the collection that are in non-Western European alphabets. To view these records correctly, you need to use a Web browser, which is set up to display these languages. In general, your browser should support Unicode (UTF-8 character set) display, and must have a suitable font available.

In older browsers, some characters in non-Western European languages will show up as groups of four letters and numbers. For instance, in Netscape 4.x, records with Chinese characters will display strings such as \65B0\653F.

To set the browser character encoding:

  • Internet Explorer:

    From the View menu, select Encoding, then click on Auto-Select.

  • Netscape:

    From the View menu, select Character coding, then Auto-detect, then All [for Netscape 6.x] or Universal [for Netscape 7.x].
The Arial Unicode MS font provides the most complete support for Unicode characters. It is available with the following Microsoft products: Publisher 2000, Office 2000 Professional, Office

If Arial Unicode MS is not available to you, other fonts can be used with the Web OPAC. For information on other fonts that support Unicode, see the Useful resources link at

Customizing Your Display Go to the top of the window

The Preferences option lets you set up the display of information on your screen. For example, you can determine the language of the interface and the language of the thesaurus terms shown to you. You can also set the order in which records are sorted and you can determine the format in which records are presented. These actions can be done from the Preferences screen or from the My Library Card screen (personal profile).

Database Go to the top of the window

To see a list of available databases, click Database from the menu bar. Your library determines which databases you are allowed to access.

e-Shelf Go to the top of the window

The e-Shelf is a permanent buffer. This is in contrast to the Basket function whereby sets of saved records are erased at the end of a session. This option is only available if you are logged in.

To save a viewed record from full view of record screen to your e-Shelf, click Add to e-shelf.

From the e-shelf, you can sort records by Date and Folder (the name that you can give to a set of records when using the Add to e-Shelf option from the Full view). You can also save the records on your computer, forward them by e-mail, or delete them.

To view the contents of your e-Shelf, click e-Shelf from the menu bar.

Full View of Record Go to the top of the window

In the Full view of a record, you can see the record in a variety of formats that change the tags from standard ALEPH tags to name tags or alphanumeric tags. You can also select the card catalog style.

The Full view has links that allow you to jump to:

  • A Browse List

  • Other, similar records, for example, other records that share the same subject

  • Holdings information

  • External files, such as an electronic journal
In addition, the Full view of a record allows you to use certain options. These options are contained in the options bar, which appears above the Full view of the record.

To save selected records to your e-Shelf, click Add to e-shelf. This option is only available if you are logged in.

To save selected records to your basket, click Add to basket. You can also add notes to records saved to the basket.

To search for similar records in other databases, click Locate.

To use this record for creating an Interlibrary Loan Request for this material from another library, click ILL Request. You can also save the record on your PC or send it by e-mail.

To save the record to the server, click Save on server. This option is only available if you have Save permission defined in your patron profile.

History Go to the top of the window

The History function allows you to view your search queries, which you saved on your previous visits to the library. These search queries are saved in a permanent buffer and can be used as bookmarks for future use. You save your queries in the History buffer from the Previous Searches screen.

To view your saved searches, click History from the menu bar.

From the search queries in the History screen, you can rerun your search queries by clicking Find, or delete them from the permanent buffer. Note that the value displayed in the No. of Records column refers to the number of records retrieved at the time that the search query was first run.

Holdings Go to the top of the window

To view Holdings information for a given library:

In the results list screen, click on the underlined library name in the Lib/Items column.


In the Full View of Record screen, click on the All Items link.

The Holdings window, containing a list of items held by the library, appears. You can use a Request link next to items in the Holdings window to place a request for items.

Interlibrary Loan Go to the top of the window

This function enables you to request material from another library. You can borrow a book or journal, or request a photocopy of the material. Fill in as much information as possible in the interlibrary loan screen. Fields with * are mandatory. This option is only available if you are signed in and have the necessary permission.

My Library Card Go to the top of the window

The library card screen gives you access to your library circulation records, and allows you to renew and request items online. It also allows you to specify the display options you prefer for your Web OPAC sessions.

Access to your library card requires a password in order to prevent unauthorized access to your records. In the event that you want to change your password, use the password option in the upper bar.

Previous Searches Go to the top of the window

You can view the results of previous searches, incorporate them into new searches, or combine them into one result set.

  • To see a list of the searches you have made during your current session, click on Previous Searches from the menu bar.

  • To review a search, select it, and click View.

  • To erase a search, select it and click Delete.

  • To combine two or more searches, select them, and click Cross.
Cross lets you work in various ways with a pair of result sets. For example, if you searched for Chicago, and now want do a similar search for Illinois, you can combine them by choosing a predefined logical operation: and, or, First set not second, Second set not first..

To cross sets with the First Set not Second and Second Set not First operations, choose two sets only.

Requesting Items Go to the top of the window

To place a request on an item:

  • Click on an underlined Holdings tag from the Full view of a record. A holding list of items stocked by the library is displayed.
In the Holdings list, you can:
  • Click Request (if shown) to place a hold request.

  • Click Photo (if shown) to make a photocopy request.

  • Click Expand to view all available details about the item record:
If the Holdings List contains a Due Date hyperlink, this indicates that the item is currently on loan. You can click the Due Date link to view details about the patron who has the item checked out.

Booking Items on Reserve in Advance

Many libraries maintain a reserve collection from which patrons can borrow items on a short-term basis (for example, for one or two hours).

To make a request on a short-term item:

  1. From the reserve collection, select a reserve item in the Holdings window, and click Request. A schedule of available time slots for that item appears.

  2. Select an available time slot and click the adjacent request link. The item is made available for pickup during the selected time slot.
Special Request Go to the top of the window

The Special Request function lets you place requests for items that are not found in the Web OPAC, but are listed in the card catalog. The link for making a special request is displayed in the menu bar if your patron profile includes permission for placing a special request.

To make a special request:

  1. From the menu bar, click Special Request. The Special Request form is displayed:

  2. Fill in as much information as possible, including the item's title and call number, and click Go. The library processes the request, that is, fetches the item and delivers it to you if it is available.
Saving and Mailing Your Results Go to the top of the window

Once you have selected records, you can save them or forward them by e-mail.

To send the record or list of records by e-mail:

  1. Click Save/Mail to invoke the E-mail or Save Selected Records form.

  2. Choose a record format and fill in the e-mail address field. The Name, Subject and Text fields on the form are optional, and can be helpful in handling your e-mail.

  3. Click Send/Save.
To save the records on disk:

  1. Click Save/Mail to invoke the E-mail or Save Selected Records form.

  2. Choose a record format.

  3. Leave the e-mail address field blank. The Name, Subject and Text fields on the form are optional.

  4. Click Go. A Save file to PC screen appears.

  5. Click Save Selected. You will be prompted with your options for saving and naming the file.
The Save on Server option lets you save either selected records or a subset of records from the Results List on the server. This option is only available to patrons with Save permission defined in their patron profile.

Search Go to the top of the window

The Search function enables you to find records by entering keywords or phrases. To perform any search, click on Search from the menu bar. There are five different Search types available in Web OPAC: Basic; Multi-base; Multi-field; CCL; and Advanced Search.

Advanced Search Go to the top of the window

Advanced Search lets you search the database for keywords. You can use pull-down menus to specify fields and define search mode. The Web OPAC offers various fields such as Author, Subject and Title. The relationship between these three fields is handled by the logical operator, AND. To view a list of records, you can click on an adjacent link in the No. of records column.

Basic Search Go to the top of the window

In this screen, you can choose a field to be searched such as Author, Subject, Publication Year, System Number and more and types in keywords. Lowercase letters can also find matches of capitalized words. You can use the Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT in the search string. You can also use AND/OR/NOT as real words (that is, not as Boolean operators) when they are part of a phrase, or if the operator is enclosed in double quotes, as in, for example gone but "NOT" forgotten (NOT is written in uppercase for the sake of clarity - it can be lowercase in the search query).

To retrieve search terms that are next to each other, choose Yes for Words adjacent.

Constructing a Search Go to the top of the window

A Search request is limited to the number of records the System is set to (for example, 5000). In addition, the default result display limit and sort limit in the results list window is 1000.

ALEPH supports and , or, and not Boolean operators. and is assumed if no operator is present. Operators can be typed in English or expressed by using any of the following conventions:

  • AND = + (plus sign)

  • AND = & (ampersand)

  • OR = | (pipe sign)

  • NOT = (tilde)
All searches can be further limited by language, format, years and location. You can define these limits at the bottom of each Search screen.

In addition to the Search Hints at the bottom of each Search screen, the following are additional rules for all types of searches:

The ? character or * character (asterisk) can be placed at the left, right or middle of a portion of a word, but it can never be used more than once in a text string.

The # symbol can be used to find variant spellings in cases where one version of the word has one more character than another version. For example, colo#r will find both color and colour; and arch#eology will find both archaeology and archeology.

The ! character can be used to find variant spellings in cases where a single character may vary. For example, wom!n will retrieve both woman and women.

The % symbol, followed by a number, can be placed between two words to indicate that you want the words to appear within a particular distance from each other, irrespective of what order the words appear in. For example, england %3 ballads will retrieve Ballads of England , Ballads of Merry Olde England and England and Her Ballads.

The ! character, followed by a number, can be placed between two words to indicate that you want the words to appear within a particular distance from each other, and in the same order in which you type the words. In this case, ballads !3 england will retrieve Ballads of England and Ballads of Merry Olde England but not England and Her Ballads.

The -> (hyphen and greater than symbols) can be placed between two words. This indicates that you want to retrieve records that have words from (and including) the first word, through the second word. This search is particularly helpful for limiting a set of records by year of publication. You cannot use to instead of the symbols.

Here is an example: 1993 -> 1996

Common Command Language Go to the top of the window

You can use Common Command Language (CCL) to search for words and headings in several different indexes at once. You must specify the code of the word and the heading indexes to be searched. The abbreviations used in CCL can be found in the following CCL Code section.

Here is an example:

((wpe=carlyle or ruskin or hegel) and (wti=cultur?)) not (wsw=art?)

This search finds anything written by individuals named Carlyle or Ruskin or Hegel with a word beginning with cultur, for example, culture, cultures, cultural, and so on, in any title which has not been assigned a subject beginning with the word art, for example, art, arts, artist, artistic, and so on.

CCL Codes Go to the top of the window

Following are some of the abbreviations used by the Common Command Language:

WRD - Words
WZS - ZDB Number
WTI - Words from title
WOR - Place
WVE - Publisher
WJA - Words in year
WSE - Words in series
WNU - Numbers
WSW - Words in subjects
WBS - Words in classification description
WLN - Country
WSP - Language
WEF - Publication type
WPE - Person

Multi-base Search Go to the top of the window

You can use the Multi-base Search to search more than one database at a time. This lets you retrieve a set of records in your selected databases which match your specified criteria.
Multi-field Search Go to the top of the window

The Multi-Field Search lets you search more than one word group at the same time. The more fields you can fill in, the narrower the search.

Working with Results Lists Go to the top of the window

The list of records appears in the results list window. When you enter a successful search query, or click on an underlined entry from the browse list, a Results List is displayed. The Results List can display up to 1000 records. The Results List shows how many records satisfy your query specifications. Each record in a Results List is sequentially numbered. The search results can be displayed in different formats.

There are two options that enable you to jump to designated records in the set, Jump to Text and Jump to #. These options are located above the Results List.

There is quite a lot of information on the results screen. The search is shown in the upper left side of the screen, below the top menu. Underneath this are a variety of options. They are listed below.

Create Subset Go to the top of the window

Creating a subset allows you to work with a group of records selected from a result set. Select records in the results list, and then click Create Subset. The results list will then display only the records you have put in the subset. This subset can be treated just like any result set: records can be selected, added to a list, sent by e-mail, or turned into another subset.

The new set will remain in Previous Searches until the session ends. The only way to distinguish a subset from a full records set is the number of records - there is no change the Search Request description as the original search does not change. Within Previous Searches, subsets can be combined with other searches or subsets.

For more help, see Previous Searches.

Filter Go to the top of the window

Filtering results allows you to view a subset of your current search results using defined limits such as publication year, availability, range of data (alphabetical, numeric, and so on), and the date the record was added to the collection.

Rank Go to the top of the window

You can rank the results by adding an additional word to the search term/s used in the current search. Records are ranked according to a formula that takes into account the number of times the word appears in a record, and the weight given to the word (for example, if the word appears in the title, it may be given a greater weight).

Refine Go to the top of the window

Refine allows you to broaden or narrow your search strategy by expanding your terminology or creating subsets of your search. You can modify your search by changing the Common Command Language. You can also add terms using the drop-down options, or you can execute an entirely new search.

Sort Go to the top of the window

You can sort records using predefined sort options. Additionally, in the Brief view table, you can click on a column heading to sort the list (for example, clicking Author sorts records by Author, then by Year).

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