How to search for items within the repository?

Simple search:

The simple search box appears in the top right hand corner of each page of the site with the exception of the submission form. Enter your search term and select “go” to launch a simple search.

You will find that there is an additional search box on each community, sub-community, and collection home page. This search box will allow you to carry out a simple search at that level of hierarchy or any level below it using a drop down menu.

The simple “site” search box is the one located on the VHL homepage. Search terms entered in the site search box will be searched against all indexed metadata fields; as well as the full text for attached documents in PDF, Microsoft Word and RTF file formats.

Advanced search:

To the right of the simple search box is a link to the advanced search page. The advanced search allows you to specify the metadata fields you wish to search, and to combine these searches with the Boolean “AND”, “OR” or “NOT”. You can search across the entire VHL repository, or restrict your search to a community or collection using the top drop-down menu. Select the field to search in the left hand column and enter the word or phrase you are searching for in the right hand column. You can select the Boolean operator to combine searches by clicking on the arrow to the right of the “AND” box.

Note: You must use the input boxes in order. If you leave the first one blank, your search will not work.

Search Tips:

  1. What is not searched- The search engine ignores certain words that occur frequently in English, but do not add value to the search. These are: “a,” “and,” “are,” “as,” “at,” “be,” “but,” “by,” “for,” “if,” “in,” “into,” “is,” it,” “no,” “not,” “of,” “on,” “or,” “such,” “the,” “to,” “was”
  2. Truncation -  Use an asterisk (*) after a word stem to get all hits having words starting with that root. For example using the following term followed by an asterisk:


    will retrieve items containing the words: selects, selector, selectman, selecting, etc.
  3. Stemming - The search engine automatically expands words with common endings to include plurals, past tenses, etc.
  4. Phrase searching  - To search using multiple words as a phrase, put quotation marks (“ “) around the phrase, for example entering: “organizational change” - will find items containing this exact phrase.
  5. Eliminate items with unwanted words - Put a minus (-) sign before a word if it should not appear in the search results. Alternatively, you can use the Boolean operator NOT. This can limit your search to eliminate unwanted hits. For instance, in the search:

    training-cat or training NOT cat

    you will get items containing the word “training,” except those that also contain the word “cat.”
  6. Required words - Put a plus (+) sign before a word if it must appear in the search result. For instance, if the word “training” is optional, but the word “dog” must be in the result you would use:

    +dog training
  7. Boolean searching - The following Boolean operators can be used to combine terms: AND, OR, and NOT. Note that they must be capitalized as shown in order to function appropriately.

    Use the word “AND” to limit searches to find items containing all words or phrases combined with this operator. For example typing the text exactly as shown below:

    cats AND dogs

    will retrieve all items that contain both the words “cats” and “dogs.”

    Use the word “OR” to enlarge searches to find items containing any of the words or phrases surrounding this operator. For example typing the text exactly as shown below:

    cats OR dogs

    will retrieve all items that contain either the words “cats” or “dogs.”

    Use the word “NOT” to exclude items containing the word following this operator. For example typing the text exactly as shown below:

    training NOT cat

    will retrieve all items that contain the word “training” except those also containing the word “cat”.

    Parentheses can be used in the search query to group search terms into sets, and operators can then be applied to the whole set. For example typing the text exactly as shown below:

    (cats OR dogs) AND (training OR discipline)

    will retrieve all items that contain the words "cats" or "dogs" and the words "training" or "discipline."