Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Syracuse University Libraries

Special Collections Research Strategies: Searching the Catalog

The purpose of this guide is to assist students, faculty, and the general public in conducting research at the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) at Syracuse University Library.

Summon Search

There are a few different ways to begin searching the collections at SCRC.

The first way is to search directly from the main library's website by entering keywords into the library’s search bar powered by Summon. This general search bar allows you to search the entire library catalog and is a good option if you know the exact title, author, or subject of your query.  

When viewing your search results in the main catalog, you have the option to limit your results under Refine your search. You may need to scroll down to see all of the options.  Image depicting example of refining your search using Summon.

To limit your results to only those held in Specials Collections, select the “Special Collections” option located under Library Location.

Image depicting example of defining your library location using Summon.

Then you can narrow your results further by selecting “Book/eBook” or “Manuscript” under Content Type.

Image depicting example of refining your content type using Summon.

Sometimes, you may find that you need to refine your search, but are unable to find the criteria easily listed on the left-side bar. If you click “more” at the bottom of the displayed list under the particular area you would like to refine, you will get a pop-up window which provides you with all of the criteria for those particular search results. For example, in the images below, I would like to see more subject terms.

Note that you not only have the option to include multiple subject terms, but also to exclude terms. In this example, I would like to see all the results pertaining to "law" OR "women," but I do not want to see results for "Indians of North American" NOR do I want to see results on "personal relationships."

You also have the option to narrow results using the search term AND. In the images shown below, I have selected to see results regarding “history” AND “law” but excluding all those regarding “social life and customs” or “religious aspects.” In order to see results in this manner, you need to first make sure that the “Any” box (the first option under the criteria heading) is not checked.

Image depicting example of selecting subject terms using Summon.

You can sort your search results Subject Terms by the frequency of the subject term (number of results including that term) or alphabetically by selecting # for frequency or A-Z for alphabetically on the "Sort by: # | A-Z."

Classic Catalog Search

The next way to search the collections at SCRC is to "Search the Classic Catalog." This option allows you to narrow your search terms by subject heading, title, author, call number, and other criteria. You can search the classic catalog directly from the search bar below, or you can  access the classic catalog main page.

Image of example of selecting your library location using Classic Catalog Advanced Search.

To narrow your search to Special Collections materials only, select "E.S. Bird Library - Special Collections" in the Location drop-down menu on the classic catalog main page, as shown above.Image of refining your search using the Classic Catalog.

 After you have conducted a search, you can also narrow your results to Special Collections materials only by selecting "[+]: Special Collections" under the "Refine by:" section on the right hand side of the results page, as shown above.   

Catalog Search With Drop-Down Menu


More Help

Still confused about searching on the main and advanced catalogs for Special Collections materials? Remember, you can always ask the SCRC Reference Librarian for more help.