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SPAN250: Food & Hispanic Culture 2022

A guide for students in Alison Ridley's class, created by Librarians Maryke Barber and Rebecca Seipp

Brainstorming Key Words

Library databases are organized around concepts. In order to effectively search a database you should first identify key concepts. Once you know what those are you can begin brainstorming keywords that you will use to search.  Be sure to think of some keywords that are broader than you topic and some that are more narrow. Here are some tips:

  • Don't forget to try broader/narrower terms, synonyms (look at a thesaurus!), and related terms (examples: farming, farmers, agriculture, crops, plants, fruits, vegetables, ranching, livestock, food production )
  • Click on the title of a book or article (called the article or book record) to get the full information
  • Use Subject links on record page to find similar items or to help brainstorm keywords


Boolean Operators

Boolean operators help you when searching.  The most popular operators are: AND, OR, NOT.  

AND narrows your search, OR expands your search, NOT limits your search


Use the asterisk * to truncate a word and search for all forms.

Ex. Invent* will give you: Invent, Invents, Inventor, Invention


Use the question mark ? as a wildcard symbol.

Ex. Wom?n will search: woman & women


Use quotes to search for a specific phrase rather than just keywords

Ex. "Frog King" will search for the phrase rather than pulling every result that has "frog" and "king" somewhere in the record.

How To Search

AND, OR, & NOT (also known as "Boolean operators") help you combine search words, to find what you are looking for. Watch this video to find out how it works:

Adapted from the materials created by The University of Auckland Library, NZ. This video is covered by a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license.