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FirstSearch Search Techniques

FirstSearch offers access to over 40 electronic bibliographic and full-text databases.

Accessing FirstSearch


Select a database, then consult the FirstSearch documentation for the searchable fields and searching tips.

You may combine the search terms on one line using the Boolean operators AND, OR, or NOT. Terms connected with the operators and entered on a single line count as one search.


FirstSearch has a limited ability to truncate. Use the + key at the end of a word to search simultaneously for singular and plural forms of that word. This technique only works for simple "s" and "es" endings.

Example:institute+ will retrieve records with the term institute or institutes


To narrow your search, you can set limits for language, year, or document type before searching. The limit need only be set once and will be applied to each subsequent search if desired.

Type L and press R to select the limits screen.


Emailing Records

You can email the results of a search to yourself from the “List of Records” screens.

Type E 1-3,5,7 (for example), specifying up to 5 records to be emailed at a time.

Type your Internet address, as shown, and press R .

DO NOT USE the MX%” “ around your address.


Press R to return to the text display.

Exiting FirstSearch

Type BYE R.

Editing a FirstSearch File

Save the FIRSTSEARCH.LOG file with a new name. Every time you search via the Library Menu a new FIRSTSEARCH.LOG file is created. To avoid losing previous searches, rename the file at the VAX $ prompt by typing:

Delete all extraneous material, leaving only the downloaded records that were displayed as a result of the Print command.

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