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How to search RamCat - A few tips

RamCat - A Quick Guide to Searching

RamCat is the online catalog of the Porter Henderson Library. It contains information about materials the library owns (books, documents, magazines, journals, newspapers, audiovisuals, etc.).

Helpful hint!

The catalog does not tell you what articles are in the magazines, journals, and newspapers!

RamCat offers three different search modes: Basic Search, Advanced Keyword Search, and Course Reserves. Within these are several search options.


RamCat Basic Search

Basic Searches

Relevance Searching
The default search method is a relevance-based search, which finds and ranks items in a way similar to internet search engines. Relevance searching not only looks for the search terms, but weights the results according to where the word appears in the records in RamCat. For example, a term appearing in the title or subject heading is assumed to have more relevance (and therefore more weight) than if the word appears elsewhere in the description.

To make searching more targeted, the following operators can be used:

” “ Use double quotation marks to search words as a phrase: “world wide web”
+ Use + to mark essential terms: +hamlet
* Use * to mark important terms: *sonnet
? Use ? to truncate: shakesp? (searches for Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s, Shakespearean…)
! Requires that the term is NOT in the record: Shakespeare !drama

Tips for Relevance Searching:

  • Boolean operators (AND, OR and NOT) cannot be used in Relevance Search mode. (Use Guided Keyword Search screen instead.)
  • “Any of these words” is implied for multi-word searches not enclosed in quotations. Example: “World Wide web” retrieves 204 entries, but World Wide web (no quotes) results in 10,000 entries (maximum return).
  • Limits can be applied to a Relevancy Ranked search.

Browse and Title Searching
Browse searches retrieve an alphabetical list beginning with the closest match.

Tips for Title/Author/Subject/Call Number searches:

  • Browsing is Left Anchored (i.e. search targets the first word or phrase in a field or subfield. Simple Search pull down menu uses “LA” as a reminder.
  • Truncation is implied. (i.e. first word or part of a word will bring up nearest match).
  • Limits cannot be set when browsing.
  • If searching by Title, omit the first word if it is an A, An, or The, or a foreign language equivalent (Las, Le, Das, etc.)
  • Author searches must be typed last name first. Partial names retrieve the closest alphabetical match.

Journal Title Keyword Searching
Periodicals titles can be searched for by complete title, part of the title, or a single word. This search looks for words as a phrase (i.e. in the exact order they were entered) anywhere in the title (not left anchored).
Example: “Journal psychology” returns no hits, but a search for “Journal of Psychology” will return the record for that title, as well as for the American Journal of Psychology. A search for “psychology” will locate all periodicals with that word in the title.

By or About a Person Search
Searches for materials about an individual as well as his or her writings. Type the last name first.

Examples: King, Martin Luther (don’t search for Martin Luther King)

RamCat Advanced Search screen

Advanced Keyword Searches

Advanced Keyword mode allows more precise keyword searches than in the Basic Search mode. You can enter multiple sets of search terms and use drop down menus to search any of these, all of these, or as a phrase to the terms within a set. Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) can be applied between the sets of search terms - author, title, subject, etc.

AND - narrows the search
OR - broadens the search
NOT - excludes words

Tips for Guided Keyword Searches:

  • Word order is ignored except for phrase searches.
  • Use quotation marks or select “as a phrase” from the drop menu to search terms in that exact order.
  • Right truncation is implied.
  • Limits can be applied.
  • Parentheses can be used to nest search terms.

Helpful hint!

When “fishing” for information if the exact title or author is unknown, the library recommends either a Relevance Search in the Simple mode or a search in the Boolean mode.

Course Reserves

Reserved materials can be easily browsed by using pull-down menus for the instructor’s name, department, or course.


Searches may be redirected by clicking any blue, underlined text. For example, clicking on a subject heading in a record redirects the search to additional titles with that subject heading.

Search History: Keeping track of results

The History feature records all of the searches performed during the session. Click on the History button to edit and re-execute previous searches. Limits from previous searches do not apply to re-executed searches; any current limits will apply.

Print/Save/Email Search Results

Search results can be printed, saved, or emailed. To print or save results, click on the disk icon in the Save Options box, then choose print or save off the browser’s file menu.

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