Searching Acumen – Using Tabs to Limit by Format

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[Update, 8/25/14: The look of our digital repository has changed. The functionality discussed below is still very much there — in a new form. To limit to format now, use the dropdown menu at the search bar.]

In the first of a series of posts on searching Acumen, our digital repository, we’ll be discussing a quick and often illuminating way to limit a search: using the tabs at the top of the search box.

Each tab limits the search to a particular kind of source, from books and manuscripts to audio, images, and even student research. Since these tabs can be selected at any point in the search process, they’re especially useful for switching your perspective on a set of results. With a search term already in the search box, simply select a tab and hit enter again to see what limiting to a particular format can unearth.

For example, searching for “civil war” results in a lot of content: 6127 results! But limiting the search to various tabs can help narrow down those results, sometimes to things you didn’t even know you wanted:

search-civilwarWho knew that Hoole library had hand-drawn maps of the war? And who would have thought about searching for sheet music?

How about “cotton”? You’ll find that our repository has resources that touch on all parts of the cotton farming industry: from an audio interview with a sharecropper to a collection of photos documenting cotton picking and harvesting to numerous pieces of manuscript material on the subject, such as receipts for cotton sales:


You’ll notice we’ve even got several pieces of sheet music, attesting to the fact that cotton was once a prominent part of popular culture.

Perhaps you’d want to search for our former governor, “George Wallace.” Using tabbed searching brings up the expected — the Stand in the Schoolhouse Door — as well as the unexpected — including an audio file of a speech he gave at UA in the late 1960s.


Did you know Wallace was instrumental in getting Alabama’s two-year college system off the ground? More importantly, did you know he was a boxer? 🙂

What about a search for “football”? It turns up things you might not have known were there, including issues of the student magazines Mahout and Rammer Jammer, a scrapbook of UA football memories from the 1960s, images of students playing intramural football, and student research about game analysis:


Search results always appear in the order of best match to the keyword, and best and most matches to multiple keywords. However, all things being equal, the results are presented in order of type, which does not exactly follow the order of the tabs. Images, books, manuscripts, and finding aids are first, then sheet music, audio, maps, and research.

So one good use of tabbed search is to get past lots of image results, for example, or to get to things usually further down the line like sheet music, audio, and maps.

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