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A Guide to Discovery & Catalogue

A guide to McMaster's Discovery & Library Catalogue search (Now Discontinued).

Keywords Anywhere

To search for keyword(s) anywhere, enter your search term(s) in the Basic Search (default) or Advanced Search (default Keyword Index).   NOTE: Numbers can also be used in a keyword search. Consult the Search Tips section for guidance on how to construct your keyword searches using Boolean operators, wildcards and quotation marks.

When the search is submitted, the results can include both physical and online items containing your keyword(s).

The results can include a large amount of resources, many of which may be irrelevant to your search. The Refine by: column on the left allows you to limit your results using a variety of criteria including Format, Location, Subject, Language, Geography and more.

How to Search for Books on a Topic (video)
This video explains how to enter keywords into the Catalogue to find books on a particular topic. (1:13)

Video Transcript (PDF) | Video Transcript (.docx)

Author, Title or Subject Keywords

To search for keywords in the author, title and subject fields, go to the Advanced Search and select the desired index from the drop-down menus.  Use the Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT to combine search words.  NOTE: AND is the default Boolean operator.  

Advanced Search - Field Searching

NOTE: Browsing alphabetical lists of authors, titles and subjects is not supported in Discovery or Catalogue. To browse Catalogue content by author, title or subject, use the Classic Catalogue. There is no browsing option for "Articles & More" content in Discovery.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier)

A DOI (Digital Object Identifier) is an alphanumeric string assigned by a publisher when an item (usually a journal article) is made available online. Thousands of DOIs are indexed in Discovery and more are being added daily. NOTE: DOI searches are only supported in Discovery.

  • Your DOI (e.g., 10.1177/0309132512437077) may find the Full Text / PDF right away:

DOI Search with PDF


  • or your DOI (e.g., 10.1080/20479700.2017.1389478) may return a Get it @ Mac button for you to select:

DOI Search with Get It @ Mac


NOTE:  If a DOI search returns no results, try searching for the title of the item. 

Standard Number - ISBN and ISSN

Common identifiers such as ISBN (International Standard Book Number) and ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) can also be typed into the search box of Discovery or Catalogue.

  • ISBNs can be entered with or without dashes, but removing ISBN dashes is sometimes more precise (e.g., 0316316962):

ISBN Search

  • ISSNs can also be searched with or without dashes, but may be inconsistent. 

NOTE:  If an ISBN or ISSN search returns no results, try searching for the title of the item.

Call Number

Searching by Call Number

If you have a complete call number (e.g., PR 9199.3. H479 I45 2015), enter it in the search box. If you only know the beginning of the call number, try entering it in the search box. Using the "Library Catalogue" or "Location" limits in the Refine by: column may also enhance the precision of your results.Call Number Search

NOTE:  If a call number search returns no results, try adjusting the spaces within the call number or try searching for the title of the item.

Browsing by Call Number

If an item with a call number is retrieved, click the hyperlinked Call No. in the brief record [select see all] or full record to browse nearby items with images (Graphical browse - default) or in a list (select List browse). 

Call Number Browse

NOTE: You can also browse by call number in the Classic Catalogue. Select the appropriate call number index from the drop-down menu, type in a call number and select Submit to view a list of nearby items. 

A call number is a unique code given to each physical item in the library. It identifies the subject and location (address) of an item in a library's collection.

McMaster University Library (Mills, Innis and Thode) arranges most items using Library of Congress Classification (LCC), whereas the Health Sciences Library uses National Library of Medicine (NLM) Classification. Both classification systems use a combination of letters and numbers for call numbers (e.g., RA 445 .T86 2016; WA 540 AA1 .T95P 2016).

Video: How to Read a Call Number (2:48)
This video describes how you read a call number so that you can find out where the book lives on the shelf.

Video Transcript (PDF) | Video Transcript (.docx)

 Infographic: How to Read a Call Number                                                    Infographic: Call Number Guide by Subject
How to Read a Call NumberYour Call Number Guide to Serendiptious Book Discovery




















Video: How to Find a Book in the Stacks using a Call Number  (1:05)
This video describes how to use a call number to locate a book on a shelf in the library.

Video Transcript (PDF) | Video Transcript (.docx)

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