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Communication: COMS 100

Finding Resources for Your Topic

Adapting your Search Strategy

Evaluating Resources

Searching Tips

First, to make the best use of HuskieSearch, be sure you sign in using your NIU Credentials (Z- or A-ID and password). To find out more about logging in to HuskieSearch, click on the My Library Account tab of this guide.

A Basic Search should look familiar, since it works much like the searches you do in Google, Bing, or any other search engine. It is carrying out a keyword search: looking for your chosen search terms anywhere in an item records. To begin, go to the search bar on the middle of the library’s homepage—or near the top of the HuskieSearch page—and type in the word or phrase you are looking for. Then hit enter or click on the magnifying glass icon at the right-hand side of the search bar to return the results of your search.

Boolean Operators & Basic Search

Even when doing a basic search, you can employ some simple tools to yield better results. Use AND, OR, or NOT (known as Boolean operators) to control your search.

  • OR  = Broadens your results (ex. barbed wire OR razor wire yields 183 results)
  • AND = Narrows your results (ex. barbed wire AND razor wire returns no results)
  • NOT = Narrows your search by excluding words (ex. barbed wire NOT razor wire yields 176 results)

By default HuskieSearch is set to look for items in the NIU’s Library Catalog. However, you can also click on the caret to search in NIU's Course Reserves, in the catalogs of All I-Share Libraries, Articles & More, NIU's E-Books holdings, WorldCat, or to do an integrated Everything search. Just choose your search scope before typing in your search terms.

Using Advanced Search provides you with more options for optimizing your search. If you want to make use of Advanced Search, simply click on the magnifying glass icon to the right of the search bar on the library's main page (you do not need to enter any search terms yet).

Now, click on Advanced Searchlocated to the right of the search bar.

The Advanced Search page allows you to set the parameters of your search in a number of ways. 

At the top of the page, you can choose which collection you want to search: Library Catalog, Course Reserves, All-Share Libraries, Articles & More (ProQuest or EBSCO databases), E-Books, WorldCat, or Everything.

The Field selector allows you to search all fields (basically a keyword search) or a particular field (such as title, author/creatorsubject, ISBN, or a number of other options).

Search type indicates how your search terms are compared against the search field. You can choose:

  • contains – which will provide results containing all words in the phrase (though possibly in a different order and not close together)
  • is (exact) – which will show you results that contain the exact phrase(s) you specify
  • starts with – which will return results that contain words that start with the search phrase


You can then use Boolean operators (ANDORNOT) and further words or phrases on a new line to further refine your results. For more about Boolean Operators, consult the Basic Search tab.


At the bottom of the box, you will see exactly what you have asked HuskieSearch to look for: results with titles using the exact phrase "barbed wire" or any works containing the words "razor" and "wire"—regardless of the order of the words or where in the item these words appear.

And finally, you also have the option to use filters for even more control over the results returned. You can select a publication date range, choose a specific language (from Arabic to Vietnamese), or pick a material type (journals, books, videos/film, and musical scores to name a few).

Use filters to narrow down and focus your search results. "Filter your results" options are located in the left side column of your results.  


For example, the Subject filter is particularly useful for narrowing down your results. Click on Subject to expand the subject menu. Click on a specific subject to limit your results to those items associated with that subject heading. In this example, clicking on Hydrothermal Vent Animals will limit the results to the 7 items about that subject. 


Circulating items available at the library can be requested through HuskieSearch by NIU faculty, students, and staff. Materials may be retrieved from either the Circulation Desk or library vestibule lockers. You may also locate the item yourself on the shelves using the call number. Signs near the elevators will tell you which floor items are located on by call number.


Locating the Items in Your Search Results

In HuskieSearch, Location refers to the literal place in the library where an item can be found. 

For physical items, such as a DVD or an archival photo, a Library Catalog-based HuskieSearch will display the name of the collection the item belongs to and where that collection is shelved (such as the Film Collection or Regional History). It will also let you know if items in that collection are circulating (can be checked out) or non-circulating (can only be used in the building). In addition, it indicates whether there is no physical location and the item is instead, available online. Using Location, you can also determine whether you will need to go to one of the branch libraries (Faraday or Music) or to the Law Library to find the item you need. If you are searching All I-Share Libraries, Location will be replaced by Institution.


Keyword Worksheet

Evaluating Online Information

Additional Evaluation Resources: