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How to Search AustLit


    This section provides an overview of the following database features and functions:

    Keyword | Boolean Searching | People/Organisation Searches

    Awards | Using Project Data to Limit Searches

    Work searches | Publication Details | Type/Form/Genre  |  Subjects

    This page contains examples of complex and combined searches.

    Check this section for slideshows on aspects of searching AustLit.

  • — Keyword Searches

  • The Keyword search is used to search for a word or phrase over every section of every record.

    This is the same search as one activated out of the search box at the top of each page.

    See also 'Boolean Searching' below for more things you can do with the Keyword search.

  • — Boolean Searching: AND/OR/NOT : Limiting within a component, or, what the '+' and '-' mean

  • — People / Organisation Searches

  • You can search for records for a single person such as an author, illustrator, editor, poet, playwright or a publisher, society, association, or institution or a group of people or organisations with something in common using this component.

    This search will always return results with people and organisations 'on top'. People and organisations are rendered in aqua blue.

    Searching on Henry Handel Richardson (see note) in this field will yield two records as a result: Richardson's record and the record for the Henry Handel Richardson Society. (see below)

    [Note: You could search on just 'Richardson' or 'Richardson, H'. These both return results that contain Henry Handel Richardson in a prominent position.]

    Reading Results:

    1 Henry Handel Richardson (a.k.a. Ethel Florence Lindesay Robertson; Ethel F. L. Robertson; ) 3 Jan 1870 20 Mar 1946 (66 works by)

    1 = relevance ranking of this person.

    Henry Handel Richardson = name most commonly associated with this person's writing.

    (a.k.a. Ethel Florence Lindesay Robertson; Ethel F. L. Robertson; ) = other names this author was known by - in this case her 'real' name, can also include birth names, and Skin names for Indigenous people.

    3 Jan 1870 20 Mar 1946 = birth and death dates.

    (66 works by) = number of works AustLit has recorded by this author.

    Works attached to Richardson and the Society can be viewed under the WORKS tab. To view all returned results click the ALL tab.

  • — Searching for People and Organisations - Other Names

  • You could also find Henry Handel Richardson by searching for her real name Ethel Robertson (this may occur, for instance, if she was a family member and you had no idea of her career). In this case, because Richardson is the name with which her works are always associated, the Richardson record again appears with the Robertson record below it. (see below)

  • — People / Organisations - Searching for Commonalities

  • Henry Handel Richardson also dominates results from a search that interrogates the database for women who were born in the 19th century who were expatriates (lived for most or all of their working career outside Australia). (see below)

    This search component can also be used to reveal :

    – people who would have been writing around the same time or organisations established around the same time (year of birth).

    – people who grew up around the same time and place (place and year of birth).

    – people who left or arrived in Australia at around the same time (arrived in/departed from Australia).

    – people who come from the same place.

    Note that in AustLit a 'Visitor' is someone born elsewhere who resides in Australia only on a short, temporary basis.

  • — Awards

  • To find information about award shortlists and winners start typing the award name in the box and choose from the list offered.

    To limit to a year type a year into the box.

    To find out who in AustLit with a connection with a University has won the Order of Australia :

    Choose 'Order of Australia' in Awards and type 'University' in the Biography text box.

  • — Using Project Data to Limit Searches

  • Deploying this component limits the search to data produced out of a particular AustLit project.

    It is important to understand the various projects' aims and outcomes before you use this feature. Learn about projects under the RESEARCH tab.

  • Limiting the simple keyword search 'rainbow' to 'BlackWords' yields results that begin with these records:

    1 The Rainbow Serpent Music and Dreamtime Stories of My People 1992; Bob Maza , 1991-1992 prose

    2 The Travelling Yamani : A Story from the Ngadjon Jii People Trish Albert , 2008 prose biography

    3 Pemulwuy : The Rainbow Warrior Eric Willmot , 1987 novel

    Indicative of the difference this word plays in the dominant culture, without the BlackWords limitation the results returned begin with these:

  • — Work Searches : Looking for Things

  • AustLit work records represent the things (such as novels, film, short stories, drama) produced by people and organisations.

    This search component operates on the data in those work records. These records can be very complex and the number of search options available to you in this component reflects that.

    Searches using this component will yield results with work records, in orange, 'on top'. People and organisations associated with these works can be seen under the People/Organisation tab.

  • — Reading Work Search Results

  • This is the first result from a title search on 'Blinky Bill':

    1 Blinky Bill and Friends : Selected Stories The Blinky Bill Collection : Australia's Favourite Koala and His Creator, Dorothy Wall Dorothy Wall , 1988 selected work children's fiction

    1 = relevance ranked placing of the result

    + Click this to display publication details of this record

    Blinky Bill and Friends : Selected Stories = the main title and subtitle

    The Blinky Bill Collection : Australia's Favourite Koala and His Creator, Dorothy Wall = another title under which this book was published

    Dorothy Wall = the author

    1988 = year of publication

    selected work = type of work

    children's fiction = form of work (these last two indicate that this book contains a number of children's stories)

    Other indicators within results :

    see more publications = see details of other publications of this work

    'F' in an orange box = part of AustLit full text library

    An arrow in a blue box = links out to external source

    The symbols in the column to the far right indicate whether the record is for a separately published item (a book, a film, or a television production). No symbol means the work in question was published within another work (e.g. it's a poem, article, short story, review).

  • Title

    The Title search operates on the main title but also on variant titles such as translated titles and titles changed for different markets.

    You can enter part of the title or the whole title (see below title search for 'blinky bill').

  • Publication details

    This component searches on data about the way the product of someone's mind is transferred into the world.

    Aspects of publication and production processes are searchable here.

    First known date : Place a year (1873) or range of years (1850-1899) here. Use this for the first appearance of a work. Used mainly in conjunction with other search terms and limiters. (see also Date of Publication)

    First known date (1914-1918) could be used in combination with Subject term (World War I) and Form (drama) to answer the question 'Were there plays about World War I written during the war?'

    Place of Publication : Begin typing a place name and select from the list offered.

    This could be used to answer the question 'Are more novels published out of Melbourne or Sydney?' or, using it in conjunction with date of publication, 'How many novels were published in Queensland in 1965?'

    Publisher : Begin typing the name of a publisher and select the correct one from the list offered. Be aware that some publishers have complex, intertwined histories. This sometimes makes choosing the right name difficult.

    This search could be used to find a single publisher's output of Australian work. Use with other options within this component and from other components to limit.

    Example :

    To answer the question 'How many Patrick White novels did Eyre and Spottiswoode publish?' begin typing then select 'Eyre and Spottiswoode' here.

    Add 'Patrick White' in the People/ Organisation component and 'novel' in the Form option of this Publishing Details component.

    Date of Publication : This search, unlike 'First known date' operates on all publication dates. Don't use this date to find books that where first published in a certain time frame. Use 'First known date'.

  • More options inside the Publication Details component (see figure below) allows you to seek out works in languages other than English and works that have been translated.

    Translation and Language : Click the box next to translation, start typing the language name then choose the language (you must click to select here) you are interested in.

    Untick the translation box if you want all works in that language regardless of whether they were written in that language or were translated into it.

    Using and/or/not options in the Language search you can find books that are translated into Spanish but not Portugese, French and German, Norwegian or Finnish.

    ISBN and ISSN : In this section you can also search to see if AustLit contains a record for a specific imprint of a book (one you are reading, for example) or for a journal by using the item's assigned ISBN (book) or ISSN (periodicals - journals, magazines, newspapers). The ISBN of a book is most often on the back of the title page.

    Issue details : This would be most often used in combination with a title.

    This is not the place to put the year of publication, that should be searched for above in Date of publication.

    This section is for a volume or issue number or a month or a day of the month (in the format 15 May).

    Typing 'Courier' into the Title component then '15 May' in the Issue details gives you a list of every 15 May issue of newspapers with 'Courier' in the title.

    Searching a date here without a title will list every issue published on that date of any kind from any year from any title that AustLit has recorded.

  • This section of the Publication Details component searches on particular details about the presentation of particular kinds of work.

    Is/Has Film adaptation : Click the box and hit search to get a list of films that have been adapted from Australian works (IS) OR a list of woks that have been adapted for film (HAS).

    Please Note :

    Films adapted by Australians from International works will increasingly be found by this search as practice catches up with policy change.

    Serialised : This finds works (usually novels or novellas) that have been published in instalments usually in a newspaper, journal or magazine.

    Check this box and use in conjunction with another option such as author (People/Organisations).

    Note that we are finding more serialisations now that the National Library has the digitised newspapers archive.

    Peer reviewed : Scholarly articles that have been peer reviewed (read, assessed and accepted by the author's peers in their field) have a higher standing in the academic community. Some journals follow this process, some do not. This option limits your search to those articles that have undergone peer review.

    Play extent : Search for play extent by formatting your search like this: One Act or Two Acts and so on.

  • Form / Genre/ Type

    This option lets you limit your search by kinds of publication, performance, or production.

    The data searched here is where works are described as objects (type), as kinds of structures (form), and as approaches (genre).

    Click the drop down arrows to view and choose your options.

    Form : This describes what form a work takes, what kind of writing it is (novel, poem, criticism, film/tv). In combination with Type you can find either single poems or selections of poetry, for instance.

    Genre : This option describes the kind of narrative written. Here you can limit your search to works of science fiction, fantasy, romance etc.

    Type : This is about kinds of objects. Here is where you choose the kind of 'thing' you are looking for (a newspaper or a newspaper issue, a website, or a series).

    Please note : In AustLit 'anthology' is used for a published selection of works but more than three authors. A selection of work published together by one, two, or three people is a selected work.

  • Genre is a much-debated topic. AustLit takes the genre from the work itself or from reviews or criticisms about it.

    To gather speculative fiction, add 2 more genre boxes using the plus sign then choose horror, science fiction, and fantasy. Click the down arrow to change to an 'OR' search.

  • Subject

    Subject Terms :

    Begin typing your search term and choose from the list that appears.

    This search only uses terms listed in the AustLit Thesaurus. If you can't find your term in the Thesaurus, try a similar word or use the search box at the top of the page to do a keyword search.

    Geographic and Temporal Settings :

    Begin typing a place name and choose from the list that appears.

    This search uses places listed in AustLit. You can search regionally. Searching for Queensland will also search for places in Queensland.

    Author or Organisation (or their works) as Subject :

    Start typing the name and choose from the list.

    Tick the box if you want a list of works about this authors work.

    This component is most useful in combination searches.

    Note that these results can be sourced from the 'Works about' links on the author's record.

    Work as subject

    Use this option to find things written about a particular work OR about a particular type, form, and genre of work.

    Start typing the title in the box for a particular work.


    Use the arrow to drop down type, form, and genre menus. Here the results might be reviews and critical works written about a particular novel or all works about selected works, or science fiction.

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