Searching and Browsing the Catalog

Searching and Browsing the Catalog: FAQ and Guide

Navigating the Basic Search Screen, (Catalog Homepage)

The home page of the online catalog is also called the Basic Search screen. When you go to , this is the screen you will see:

There are three sections to the page. The upper part of the page is the top navigation.

The center part contains the search features and New Titles Carousel.

The bottom part of the page is the footer navigation and contains links to other sites and to Help.

The Top Navigation

These are the parts of the top navigation (from left to right and up to down):

  1. CW MARS Logo. If you click on this logo from any page in the online catalog, you will be brought back to the homepage.


  1. Click Mobile App if you want to download the CW MARS Libraries app for Android or iOS. With the app, you can access the catalog, place holds, and more.

  2. If you are in need of a library card, click to Get an eCard and sign up today.

  3. Libraries will open a list of all CW MARS member libraries, including location and contact info.

  4. OverDrive Catalog takes you to the Overdrive digital catalog.

  5. My Account link. Clicking on this will take you to the login page. For information on logging into your account, see the Help page for My Account.


  1. Basic Search will be clickable from other pages in the catalog. It will take you back to the homepage.

  2. Browse the Catalog. Clicking on this option will let you view library holdings as long lists. See How to Browse the Catalog further down on this page for more information.

  3. Advanced Search. Click to go to the Advanced Search page.

  4. Basket / Basket Actions: Baskets are used to temporarily store a list of titles. Titles in baskets can have actions applied to them, including batch hold placement, moving them to a list, and more. More information on baskets can be found further down on this page, as well as on our Help pages for Placing and Managing Holds and My Lists.

The Search Features

The search features consist of

  1. The search box , which is where you enter the terms you are looking for in the catalog (title, author, subject, keyword, etc).

  2. The search filters. You can filter your search for Keyword, Title, Author, and more. You can filter your search for different formats (large print book or DVD, for example). You can choose whether you want to search all the libraries in the network or just your own.

  3. The Search button. When you click the Search button, your search will be carried out.

  4. The All Libraries button. Use this button in lieu of Search to search all CW MARS member libraries regardless of the chosen library in number 2 above.


Below the Search Features section at is a carousel of New Titles in CW MARS. The carousel is updated nightly and will contain the most recent 200 items added to the shared catalog.

To navigate the carousel, you can click and drag it left or right, click Next or Prev, or use the Left and Right keyboard keys.

To find out more details about a title, click on the cover or title.

Library-specific Carousels

Libraries can also create and maintain their own carousels. To see carousels at a specific library, click New Titles at Your Library in the catalog footer and choose your library from the list.

The Footer Navigation

The footer navigation contains additional links.

  1. CW MARS takes you to the homepage of the CW MARS website.

  2. New Titles at your library. Clicking on this link will take you to a list of libraries. Clicking on an option from that list will take you to the library's catalog where you can view additional carousels of new titles and other curated collections.

  3. Popular Titles. Click this link to access the list of most requested titles in the CW MARS. This list updates daily.

  4. Kids Catalog. This will take you to the homepage of the Kids Catalog. See Kids Catalog further down on this page for more information.

  5. Commonwealth Catalog will open up the Commonwealth Catalog page on the CW MARS website. More information about the Commonwealth Catalog can be found here.

  6. The Help link will bring you to the Help homepage on the CW MARS website. Choose from FAQs, catalog guides, and more.

Search Tips

Here are some useful tips for successful searches in our Online Catalog.

The web address for the CW MARS online catalog is

  1. In general, the simpler you can make your search the better.

  2. Search with as few search terms as you can. When the catalog does a search for you, it will try to find records that contain every single word that you put in the search box. The catalog is very literal when it searches. pillows earth will not return the book “Pillars of the earth”; pillars earth will. The catalog will not suggest that the search might have meant something else. A search for toolkit will return different results than a search for tool kit.

  3. If a search fails when you use multiple search limiters, retry the search with fewer limiters.

  4. Search terms can be entered in any order. with wind the gone will get the same results as gone with the wind. Author names can be entered in any order. mark twain will get the same results as twain mark. No comma is necessary in an author name.

  5. Enclosing words in quotation marks will cause the catalog to search on a phrase or a specific word. This may help you get a result sometimes but try the search without the quotation marks if the results aren’t what you wanted. Use quotation marks if you’re looking for a specific word. For instance, “Kissinger” will get results for the name Kissinger but Kissinger without quotes will also get kissing, kissed, kisser, and so on.

  6. Capitalization is ignored. . . Little Miss Marker will get the same results as little miss marker.

  7. Words like AND and OR have no special meaning for Basic Search. They are treated like any other word.

  8. To exclude a term from a search, put a minus sign in front of it. gone with the –wind will get results that have gone with the but not gone with the wind. This can be helpful when narrowing a search.

  9. Some search terms will be expanded in your search results. This is why a search for dog will get results that include dogs. A search for amish quilt will include results for amish quilts and amish quilting.

  10. If you’re not looking for a specific item but want to see what might be available on a topic, enter any short, simple phrase in the search text box. For example, spain hotels will return materials about lodging in Spain; china travel will return materials on traveling in China; spy thriller will return spy thrillers.

  11. Sometimes, after you’ve done a search, the Subject listings on the left hand side of the search screen can be helpful in narrowing or extending a search. For instance, someone searching for Saturn will see Saturn probes listed there.

What Do I Do If There Are No Results For My Search?

Like other things in life, searching in the catalog doesn’t always produce the results you’re looking for. If nothing is found for your search, you’ll see this message (or something very much like it):

Sorry. No entries were found for your search.

In this case, we did a search for All Formats - Frodo Baggins - Title - All C/W MARS Libraries. What this tells us is that there are no books in all the libraries of the consortium that have “Frodo Baggins” in the title.

(If we did a search for All Formats - Frodo Baggins - Keyword - All C/W MARS Libraries, on the other hand, we get over one hundred results.)

There are many reasons why a search can return no results or not the results you were looking for. Here are a few:

  1. It’s possible that there is no material in the catalog that matches your search. Sometimes, for example, people will look for a book and no library in the consortium will have purchased it. This sometimes happens with textbooks or self-published books.

  2. Simple searches often produce the best results. You may try your search again with fewer conditions. For instance, if you used “Book”, you could try “All Formats”. If you used “Title”, you could try “Keyword”.

  3. Limiting your search to a single library may result in no search returns. This just means that the library you searched didn’t have what you were looking for. You can try searching “All C/W MARS libraries”.

  4. The catalog will try to find records that have all the words you’re searching for. A search with fewer words will sometimes succeed where more words don’t. For instance, if you search for “spain luxury hotels”, you will get no results. If you search for “spain hotels”, you will get results that will lead you to materials on luxury hotels in Spain. (“Luxury” may appear in the book; it just wasn’t in the catalog record.)

While we can often find things on our own, we should always remember that our local librarians are also happy to help.

Advanced Search

The Advanced Search screen offers an in-depth search interface. Advanced Search can be used to search multiple search types, (i.e. title and author), as well as filter by format, language, publication year, and more.

The Advanced Search interface can be useful if Basic Search does not limit your results enough. Keep in mind though, that, in general, the simpler you can make your search the better.

Navigating Search Results

After you have performed a search, your results will display as a list.

The Search Results page is designed to help you find the record you want. It is split into three categories:

The search results themselves display in a list. By default, they are sorted by a combination of popularity and the relevance to your search terms.

Across the top are search refinements.

The blue-headed left column includes filters and other facets for narrowing your search results.

Search Results

To view a record's details, click the record's title, (listed in blue). Viewing records in the catalog is discussed further down on this page.

You can also page through your results as needed using the navigation tools at the top of the list. Quick Tip: You can adjust the number of results that appear per page through your preferences in your account. Check out our Help page on My Account for more information.

Click on the author, located under the title to view more titles associated with the author.

There is a series of links that appear to the right of every record:

  • Place Hold allows you to request the title for pickup. More information can be found on our Help page for Placing and Managing Holds.

  • Add to basket allows you to add the title to a temporary list known as a basket for batch hold placement and more. More details on this are discussed further down on this page.

  • Reviews & More takes you to an external page where you can view a summary for the title, read professional reviews, and more.

  • Add to my list only appears when signed in. You can use this link to add the record to your list(s). More information on this can be found on our Help page for My Lists.

Search Refinements

  • Sort Results can be adjusted to sort your results by title, author, publication date, and more.

  • Show More Details will allow a sample of item information, (such as item owning library and call number), to appear as part of your results.

  • Refine my Original Search takes you to the Advanced Search page with your search intact. Here you can adjust filters and search terms to search again.

  • Disable Highlighting can be selected if you do not want your search terms highlighted in the results.

  • Limit to Available Items can be checked to limit your results only to records that have items immediately available at the library. You may want to use this if you're going to the library and want to see what will be available on their shelves. Quick Tip: The availability will be linked to your scoped search. If you only want to see what your local library has available, don't forget to select that library in your search.

  • Group Formats and Editions is discussed more in depth further down on this page. It can be used to group all formats/editions associated with a specific title together. This can be useful if you want a specific title but don't care what edition you get.

  • Show Results from All Libraries can be checked if your initial search was scoped to a specific library and now you want to check all CW MARS member libraries.

  • Exclude Electronic Resources can be checked to limit results to only physical items. If this is left unchecked, digital titles from OverDrive and other sources will display. Quick Tip: If you are interested in an e-title, pull up the record in the catalog. Most will have links to the external site (like OverDrive) where it can be checked out.

Viewing a record in the Catalog

After performing a search, you can view more information about a specific record by clicking on its title. Doing so will take you to the detailed listing for the record. The page you see will look similar to the following image. Depending on the specific record and other factors, records may vary slightly in their look and available information.

This page will list the record's title, author(s), physical description, and more. There is a lot of information stored on this page. We will only talk about some of it.

More Details button. Click on More Details to see additional information about the title. This can include:

  • Physical description and edition/publisher

  • Summaries and synopses

  • Related searches by subject/genre

  • Other available formats

Available Copies | Holds. Here you can see how many copies are available and how many people are waiting for a copy. This can give you an idea of how popular the title is and if there may be wait when requesting it.

Place Hold and other links will appear on the right. See Navigating Search Results above for a discussion on these links as they work similarly to their entries on the search result page.

Item List. Here all the items attached to the record will be listed. You will see the owning library, call number, shelving location, availability and more. The libraries will display in alphabetical order. You can page through the list if desired.

Quick Tip: If you have a preferred library set in your account preferences and they have items on the record, their item(s) will appear at the top of the list. Depending on your initial scope, only some libraries may appear in this list.

Quick Tip: To limit just to libraries with items immediately available, click on Show Only Available Copies.

If you scroll further down on the record, you may come across enriched data, as shown here:

Enriched Bib Record Data

Powered by NoveList, with additional content provided by Baker & Taylor, this section will list similar titles and authors, ratings and reviews, and more.

Click around to perform related searches in the catalog or view more information in the NoveList Plus database, provided by CW MARS. Links to GoodReads and other sources may also be provided.

Note that not all records have enriched data.

Group Formats and Editions

Within the Search Results page, you can refine your searches by selecting the Group Formats and Editions checkbox.

Checking the Group Formats and Editions box will alter the look of your search results. Records will be rearranged into groups. Some groups are small. They might only have one item in them. Others might have many items in the group.

For groups having more than one format, you'll see the icons for the formats displayed under the title as in the picture below.

You may want to group items like this if you're looking for a title, regardless of its edition or format. Perhaps you want to read Huckleberry Finn but have no preference for the edition you receive.


  • You can place a hold on the group of items by clicking Place Hold. This is an advanced hold that can be filled by multiple formats and languages. For more information on Advanced Hold Options, please see its entry in our Help page for Placing and Managing Holds.

  • If you want to view individual records in a specific group, click on the group's title to see all the individual results contained within.

  • To ungroup your results completely, uncheck Group Formats and Editions.

Using Baskets

While exploring the catalog, you'll notice a basket icon that appears in the top right.

Baskets can be used to perform batch actions on a list of titles selected during your current log in session.

To add titles to a basket...

  1. Perform a search in the catalog and retrieve a list of results. Checkboxes appear to the left of each result.

  2. Select one or more titles from the list by clicking on the checkboxes. Selected titles are automatically added to the basket. A link above the results list tracks the number of titles selected and added to the basket. If you want to place the entire page of results on the list, click the Select All checkbox at the top of the results list.

You can click on the Basket icon to perform the following actions on the titles within the basket:

  • View Basket - This opens the basket in a new screen that allows more title-by-title control over the records in the basket. See Action: View Basket below for more information on this menu.

  • Place Hold - This allows for placement of holds in batch for all of the titles in the basket. If not already logged in, you will be asked to login. More information on placing holds in this manner can be found on our Help page for Placing and Managing Holds.

  • Print Title Details - This allows for printing details of all titles within the basket. A confirmation page opens prior to printing that includes a checkbox option for clearing the basket after printing.

  • Email Title Details - This allows for emailing details of all titles within the basket. If not already logged in, you will be asked to login. A confirmation page opens prior to printing that includes a checkbox option for clearing the basket after emailing.

  • Add Basket to Saved List - This allows basket items to be saved to a new permanent list. If not already logged in, you will be asked to login. More information on this can be found on our Help page for My Lists.

  • Clear Basket - This removes all titles from the basket


Baskets are temporary. Contents will be removed automatically after your current session expires. To save the contents of your basket, you can add them to a list.

Baskets cannot be used when using "Group formats and editions" as this option groups records together. Only individual records can be added to baskets.

Action: View Basket

Clicking the action to View Basket will open the basket in a new screen that allows more title-by-title control over the records in the basket.

Most actions described above can also be taken on titles on this screen, as well. This menu offers additional flexibility, as users can select some or all of the individual titles in the basket to place holds, print or email details, or remove from the basket.

Sending Yourself a Text Message from the Online Catalog

A feature of the online catalog is the ability to send a text message to your mobile device. The text will contain item identifying information that can help you find the item on your library's shelves.

First, perform a search. Once you find the title you want, click on the title to pull up more details.

Within the item list, next to each call number will be an option to Text. If you click the link corresponding to your local library, you will see specific location and call number information. You can have this information sent to your phone via text message.

From the Mobile carrier dropdown, choose the carrier for your mobile phone.

In the Mobile number textbox, enter your telephone number, without spaces or dashes.

Click the Submit button and the text message will be sent to your mobile phone.

Click Return to record or your browser's Back button to return to the item record.


If you choose the wrong mobile carrier from the Mobile carrier dropdown list, you will not receive a message, even if you enter your telephone number correctly.

If you are logged into your account when you go to this screen and you have a default mobile carrier and phone number listed in your account, the mobile carrier and number specified in your library account should pre-populate the dropdown box and the Mobile number box.

How to Browse the Catalog

You can see the link to Browse the Catalog at the top of the catalog.

Clicking on the link brings you to the catalog browse window.

Under the dropdown -- Browse for -- you can choose from Titles, Authors, Subjects or Series.

Let's look at an example: Here we're going to browse for Subjects starting with sports.

After typing "sports" into the starting with text box, we click on the Browse button.

We get these results: (This is only an example screenshot - your results may look a little different.)

Clicking on any entry in the list brings you either to a single record, (if the number after the listed item is 1), or to a longer list of search results.

The number in parentheses after each line shows how many titles were found for that particular subject. When you see the words "At least", this means there may actually be more than that number.

You can use the Back and Next buttons to move forward and backward in the browse list.

Accessing the Kids Catalog

The Kids Catalog can be accessed by clicking the Kids Catalog link found in the footer of the catalog. It can also be accessed directly at:

The Kids Catalog provides simplified search and browse functions. It also features bright colors and large images for easy navigation.

Kids Catalog Screen