Search Interfaces

Basic Search

You can enter the desired search terms into the search box. The search is not case sensitive. Clicking on the “Search” button will expedite a search in preselected databases (the catalogs in Mainz and Wiesbaden). The results appear shortly thereafter in the form of a hit list.
You can enter one or more search words or terms. In the case of multiple-word searches, the “AND” search option will be set. That means that each search result will contain all the terms you have entered.

Advanced Search

If you want to conduct a more complex search, please use the “Advanced Search.”

This option allows you to combine various search fields (free search, title, author, etc.) and any search terms from various categories.

To start your search, enter your search terms in the appropriate search fields. The Boolean (logical) operators “AND,” “OR,” and “NOT” (do not write the commas, however) allow you to link the search fields in various ways (see “Search Combinations”).

As with the basic search, you may combine one or more words in each search field. In the case of more than one word in one field, the “AND” combination will be used.

Furthermore, the “Advanced Search” option allows you to select the catalogs you wish to search from a list on the right side of the screen.

(You will find more about this in the section entitled “Catalog Selection”.)

Search Fields

The advanced search option includes the following search fields:
Search Field Description Search Examples
Free search

In the free search pre-selected categories such as author and title will be searched automatically.

Shakespeare Hamlet
Title (keyword) Please enter one or more keywords from the title in any order. Do not include articles or prepositions. The search is not case-sensitive. If you are not sure about the endings of a particular word, just truncate the word by entering a placeholder (see “Truncation / Placeholders”). Robinson Crusoe
homepage? design
consumption energy*
Complete title

Please enter all parts of the title in the correct order. This search is useful in the case of titles which only consist of one word as a means of keeping the number of results as small as possible.

pride and prejudice


Please enter a complete name in the following order: last name, first name. In many cases just entering the last name will suffice.

Roth, Philip

Subject heading

Most of the databases which can be included in a search support searches for subject headings. Since the exact form of one and the same subject heading can differ (for instance, whether the word is listed in the singular or the plural form), please use a placeholder where appropriate.

international relation*

Institutions, associations etc. If you are searching for a document published by an institution, please enter the complete name of the institution.

amnesty international
american heart association

Place of Publication/ Publisher

Please enter several words from the publisher’s name and/or one or more of the words found in the name of the place of publication.

random house new york

If you know the ISBN (international standard book number) for a book or the ISSN (international standard serial number) for a periodical, you can use this option to find a publication. You do not have to enter the hyphens.




The identifier is an internal item control number (in the PICA system it is the “PPN”). It is used by people who maintain the HeBIS database.


Publication year

The year of publication can only be used in combination with other search parameters.

Free Search: Harry Potter
: 2007
Document type

Please use this search filter for limiting your search to particular types of materials and documents, such as, for example, journals, maps, etc. To the right of the search field “document type” you will find a pull-down menu with the available document types. This option can only be used in combination with search parameters.

Author: Mozart
Document type:
sheet music


Search Combinations / Boolean (Logical) Operators

You can use Boolean operators (also known as logical operators) to establish relationships between search terms in complex searches.

The operators can be selected in the left-hand portion of the search screen by clicking on the pull-down menu.

The following possibilities exist for connecting search terms:

operator description example result
AND means that all the items (e.g. any media like books etc.) the system lists based on the search terms you have entered will include all the terms you entered (the intersection of both sets) title: “Hamlet”
The search result will include all media which have “Hamlet” in the title and “Shakespeare” as the author.
OR means that the items the system lists based on the search terms you have entered will include at least one of the terms you have entered (the sum of both subsets) author: “Nabokov”
author: “Sirin”
The search result will include all media which have either “Nabokov,” “Sirin,” or both names listed as author .
AND NOT means that precisely the selected term should not appear (the complementary set) author: “Hemingway”
title: “For Whom the Bell Tolls”
publisher: “Scribner”
The search result will include all editions of “For Whom the Bell Tolls”
which were not published by “Scribner”.
Basic Search: If you enter more than one term in the search field, the system will automatically use the AND setting i.e., you will receive a results list which includes all the items which have titles containing all of the search terms you entered.
Advanced Search: This allows you to connect numerous search terms with logical operators. Choose the appropriate operator in the pull-down menu. If you enter more than one term in one field, the system will automatically connect these using “AND.”

Truncation / Placeholders

There are two different truncation options. They are known as “placeholders.”

placeholder effect example
* replaces one or more alphanumeric characters (e.g., letters or numbers appearing as part of a written word) you enter: elec*
you get: electorate, electronics, Electra, etc.
? replaces exactly one alphanumeric character

you enter: angel?
you get: angel, angels, Angelo, Angela, etc.

The system will inform you if one of the catalogs in which you are searching does not support the truncation options.


There are additional methods for further differentiating your search:

  • Maximum results per catalog
    The current system presetting will give you twenty results per page. You can change this setting to include 50 or 100 results per page.
  • Timeout
    The system will wait for 30 seconds for a response to a query from a database. You can manually lower or increase this time limit.

Search History

In the “Advanced Search” field the category search history will save up to ten previous search entries (see the lowest pull-down menu in the “Search” field; the preset option is “Do not combine with a previous search”). The previous searches are saved chronologically in the order they have been carried out. The oldest search entry will automatically be deleted when you conduct your eleventh search.

The search history option allows you to repeat regular standard searches without additional effort and to integrate earlier queries into new searches, for instance.

If you are using the system as a “guest user,” then your search history will be deleted when you stop working at the terminal. If you have logged in as a user (see “Login”), your searches will be saved for later access.

Digital Content

You may find an interesting book while searching about which, however, you are not certain if it is truly relevant to your research. Would it be helpful to know more about the book’s contents before requesting the book from the closed stacks?

Many titles now have electronic tables of contents, abstracts, cover texts, or excerpts. If available, you can access these immediately via the button “additional Info”, which you will find directly in the general results list or in the information on a specific search result.

By clicking on this option you will open a window containing an image of the cover of the publication (if available) as well as a list with links to available content descriptions.

The content descriptions are taken from various sources (such as publishers, agencies, and the library catalog enrichment projects of certain libraries) and are intended to offer extra assistance in finding relevant literature.