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Introducing first-year students to UCT Libraries' online catalogue, ALEPH.


Use the SEARCH function when you are exploring the collection to find material on a certain topic

  • In the previous tutorial, we used BROWSE because we knew the title of the book we needed.
  • In this tutorial you will learn to use ALEPH's search engine to find the books you need.
  • You need to find books about global warming ... where do you start?
  • Go to the Libraries' web site ( .... click on Catalogue (ALEPH) in the Search & Find menu


  • ALEPH always opens at the Basic Search screen:
  • To do a simple search in ALEPH, just type in keywords that describe the subject matter you are looking for ... and click on Go.    Say you are looking for books on global warming:


  • This search found 183 records in ALEPH.  All these records contain the words global and warming.  The results are given as brief records ... see below.  To call up the full record for any of these books, just click on the number in the left-hand column.

More complex searches

  • The above example illustrated a simple search for a single concept, global warming.  

  • You can do more complex searches for topics involving two or more concepts.  For example, you could search for books on:   Global warming in Africa.

  • This topic has two different concepts: (1) global warming  (2) Africa.   When searching for two or more different concepts, use the word AND to combine them in the search box:



  • This search found 31 results, some of which are shown below as brief records.   By using AND to combine the Africa concept with the global warming concept, we made the search more specific and therefore found fewer books.  All of the records below contain the keywords global warming and Africa.  (Your keywords may not appear in the brief record, but if you look at the full record you will find them.)



Searching for a specific book

  • You can use Basic Search to find a specific book quickly.  


  •  You need to find:   "The universe in a nutshell"  by  Stephen Hawking.   Just type in the Author's surname and use AND to combine it with a keyword from the title of the book.



  • ALEPH has only one record containing both the keywords Hawking and nutshell, so you are taken directly to the full record.

Broadening a search

  • You can broaden your searches---ie. make them more comprehensive---by including more than one keyword to describe the topic you are interested in.    When doing this, you use the word OR to combine keywords describing the same concept.


  • Let's say you are looking for books on reptiles.   If you search using the keyword reptiles ...



                       ... you get 92 books:



  • You can increase your results by using a number of keywords representing reptiles and combining them with OR:



  • This broader search found 187 records:

  • By combining similar keywords with OR you have made your search much more comprehensive and you get more results.