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Basic and advanced search steps, plus how to save/download/export results.

Basic Search

The persistent search bar at the top appears on every page in Alma (hence, "persistent search bar"). The options change depending on what you're looking for and what location you're at, but there is always a search bar.

  1. Log in to Alma
  2. Make sure that your location is set to your work; some search options are inaccessible depending on your location
  3. Choose the kind of search you want to do - first drop-down menu
    1. Titles = bibliographic records
    2. Items = item/holding records
    3. Digital = digital objects (Harvard isn't using this feature)
  4. Choose the specific thing you want to search on - second drop-down menu
  5. Enter search terms
  6. Click search or hit enter
  7. Use facets/limits on the left to limit results
  8. Remove a facet by clicking on the X - this means you can add three facets and then remove the first without affecting #2 & 3
  9. Sorting
    1. Rank = relevancy, it's the system trying to guess what you want based on what you've searched for + what other people have searched for + what's in the sytsem
    2. Other options depend on what limits you have set
    3. You can only sort by a single facet/limit
    4. Sort is "sticky" - will remember and reuse the last sort you used - possibly by session?
  10. Institution = Harvard's holdings
    Community = All Alma institutions
  11. Some results list options you may see, depending on what you've searched for:
    1. Expand: expands hidden parts of the results list (e.g., in a Physical Titles search, clicking Expand -> Physical will show holdings information in the results list
    2. Download: the download icon (cloud with side arrow) allows you to download the results list to Excel. You can then manipulate the spreadsheet for weeding lists, budget information, checklists or any other use.
    3. Customize View: click on the gear to customize the view & actions of your results list. You can choose how many columns to display and what information to display in each column, in what order. You can set the action items to appear and in what order when you right click on a record.


Important Search Notes

1 - Not all searches have Advanced Search options. For Invoices and Vendors, for instance, you can only use the Basic Search to find what you're looking for.

2 - Regarding the search string:

  • You may either include or omit words that are articles (such as the, a, an) in your search content.
  • All ISBNs are in ISBN-13 format.
  • Special characters, such as hyphen, dash, slash, and so forth, are ignored. For additional special characters, see Searching for Special Characters.
  • The asterisk ( * ) wildcard character may be used in your search string if the asterisk is placed at the end of the search string.
    • Wildcards are not supported when the string contains a dash, for example: $a (Aleph)003858461UCD01-Aleph.
    • The question mark (?) is not supported as a wildcard character.
  • Alma finds characters with diacritics when you search using standard English characters.

Advanced Search

To the right of the persistent search bar, click on Advanced Search to search on multiple fields or use Boolean operators. See the Ex Libris Knowledge Center for details on how Alma treats Boolean operators.

  1. Log in to Alma
  2. Make sure that your location is set correctly for what you need to do.
  3. Click on Advanced Search to the right of the search bar
  4. Choose the kind of search you want to do
    1. Titles = bibliographic records
    2. Items = item/holding records
    3. Digital = digital objects (Harvard isn't using this feature)
  5. Choose an Institution (Harvard) or Community search
  6. Choose the field you want to search on. Alma may provide a single list or offer focus areas that relate to the kind of search you want to do. (e.g., for a Physical Titles search, the second drop-down offers fields for Title, Holding, and Physical Items values)
  7. Choose the operator for that field (e.g., contains, keywords, is empty, starts with, etc.)
  8. Choose the value for the field
  9. You can search with just one variable, or multiple variables on sequential rows. The order of the search is determined by the order of the rows, so plan your query with this in mind. You cannot reorganize rows once you've entered them.
  10. Use the icons at the end of a row to:
    1. Add additional rows of search terms by clicking on the plus sign
    2. Duplicate a row by clicking on the duplicate icon (two matched pages)
    3. Delete a row by clicking on the X
  11. For additional rows, choose AND/OR as the initial operator.
  12. Clear the form at any time by clicking Clear Form to start over from scratch
  13. Once your query is set, click Search or hit enter
  14. Use filters, sort, and other features on the results as with a basic search


Search is the Start

Examples of how Search is the first step to many activities/workflows in Alma:

Searching for duplicates in a Worldwide FAL invoice.  In Aleph I would check for the ISBN to see if there are multiple bib records using the 'Find' button and then ibn="the isbn number".  I would then use the 'Browse' search to check for the title. It was necessary to use 'Enter starting text' because when a bogus bib record is loaded into Aleph (despite the presence of an existing bib) the second indicator in the 245 tag is frequently missing so that you have to search including any initial articles.  Sometimes these bogus bibs are also missing the ISBN.  Doing both these types of searches usually finds all the bibs present for this title.

In ALMA one can use the advanced search to do both at the same time.

In the first line you can choose ISBN:Contains Keywords then enter the ISBN.  If the record could be bad you can then choose 'or' and Title:Starts With  to include the initial article (to find any bogus records that have been imported without a second indicator in the 245 tag) but then you can add another line with 'or' and again do Title:Starts With excluding the initial article to find the existing bib already in ALMA.  You now have many bases covered in one search!



Saving Queries and Results

You can save the query to re-run again, save results .

  1. Create and run your query using the Basic or Advanced search steps above
  2. Save Query: At the top of the results list is the option to Save Query. Clicking this will save the query as a logical set, which can be re-run at any time. See Sets for more about creating, managing, and using sets.
    1. Give the set a Title (required) and a Description and/or Note (optional).
    2. Choose whether the set should be private or shared to all Harvard Alma users, then click Save.
    3. Your query will be saved in your My Sets area; you can get to it by hovering over the Admin menu area and clicking on Manage Sets.
    4. Click on the ellipsis at the right end of the row for the set you want to run
    5. Click on Results and the query will re-run.
  3. As mentioned above, click on the Download icon to download the list to Excel.

When you save a query, you automatically create a Set of results that you can use in a variety of ways. Read more about Sets.