Searching Acumen – Limiting by Field

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Acumen’s simple one-box search is pretty robust, searching multiple fields by default, but what if you need to pinpoint a specific field in the record? In the second in our series of posts on searching our digital repository, Acumen, we discuss searching by field — how to enter that kind of search into the box and why you’d even want to.

How do I do it?

The format for fielded searching in Acumen is actually fairly simple. Enter it in the search box like this:

field:keyword

Here are some examples:

title:fountain
abstract:sermon
description:classroom
date:1917
subject:abolition
genre:reciept
creator:shakespeare

You can use any of the fields shown above to do a limited search.

If you want to include more than one keyword, format your search like this:

field:(keyword AND keyword)
genre:(christmas AND cards)
date:(june AND 1863)

If you want to use more than one field in one search, format it like this:

field:keyword AND field:keyword
title:cantata AND creator:handel
subject:boxing AND description:match

Why would I do it?

Putting a single word in the box and searching isn’t a bad plan, but like with limiting by format, limiting by field can help narrow down a large set of results.

For example, the keyword legal can come up in a variety of places in a record. A simple search for that keyword yields 6417 results, but things look pretty different when you do a fielded search. You’ll see the number of results below the search box area, on the left:

keyword-legal

 

In another example, the keyword time brings up 1185 results. Here’s what it looks like in different fields:

keyword-time

 

In general, using multiple keywords can get you more focused results, especially if you put AND between them. (The default is to look for one word OR the other.) Using multiple keywords in a limited search is even better, either within one field or between different fields.

football game = 679 results
football AND game = 183 results
title:(football AND game) = 104 results

This is especially true when you’re dealing with very common words and phrases.

photograph 1908 = 28798 results
photograph AND 1908 = 155 items
genre:photograph AND date:1908 = 71 results

The key to searching in a library catalogue or database is the old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Specifically, try different things. One strategy is to use different words and phrases for the same concept, but you should also consider limiting your search to a particular field. In Acumen, it’s simple: just enter field:term.

 

 

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