New York State Library
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Searching the Digital Collections Help Page

Keyword Searching

The search box labeled "Search for" performs general keyword searches and retrieves keywords in virtually all of the metadata fields, and in the full-text of the documents.  Use this search box to search for words that might appear only in the full-text of the document, rather than in the title or creator fields. Or use this search box if you are unsure where the word might appear.

  • Searches are not case sensitive.
  • Quotes should be used to search for a specific phrase or name.
  • Wild cards can be used to substitute for unknown letters or to search for multiple similar words.  A list of wildcards and their uses can be found by hitting the help button on the main page.

Using this search box you can perform three types of searches (select from the drop down list):

  • A Pattern search (the default) allows you to enter a plain English search with no Boolean operators.  This type of search automatically does a pattern expansion on the query words you enter, tolerates spelling differences, and ranks returned documents for relevance.
  • A Concept search allows you to enter a plain English search with no Boolean operators. This type of search automatically does semantic expansion (retrieves synonyms and other related words) on all search words, and ranks documents for relevance.
  • A Boolean search allows you to enter Boolean operators (and, or, not) to assist in finding exact matches for your search words. The Boolean search does not rank results and defaults to "and" if no operator is entered.

Field Searching

The Advanced Search option opens a side bar for filters, fields, and libraries to search your topics.Use Creator, Title and Agency/Topic to perform a search against a document's metadata. For example if you are looking for a specific document, try typing the title or part of the title in the Title search box and execute the search. The OCLC/NY ID field is primarily used so we can link our catalog records to our Digital Collections.  If you are searching our catalog and find a record that has a link to our Digital Collections, this field will be searched automatically when you click on the link in the Catalog.

Advanced search icon and side bar

Customize Your Search

Filter: You can add search fields by clicking on the "Search Filter " link in the left navigation bar. A drop down menu will let you select different search fields which will appear on the left side of the screen to allow you to change or add words to your search. Hover the mouse over the search bar and select "add", "not","or", and the + and x buttons to add or remove filters.

Add and remove filter options

Fields icon and drop dwon menu

Fields: You can narrow your search by searching specific metadata fields. If you want to search a field that does not show up in the Advanced Search by default, click on the Filter button next to the search box to see additional fields available for searching.

If you still don't see the field you're looking for, click on the Fields tab, and then check the field(s) in the list (see screenshot at right) that you want to add to the search. Click the "Update" button at the bottom of the list. Then you can go back to the Filter button to add it.

Libraries: You can also narrow your results by selecting which libraries they come from, such as Government Collections, General Collections, or Special Collections. Click "Update" to finalize.

Libraries search options


Navigating Search Results

Results Display: You have the ability to display the search results in one of three ways:

column column display icon row row display icon thumbnail thumbnail display icon

You can toggle between these formats by clicking on the appropriate icon at the top of the search results screen.

Save results. In the upper right hand corner there are two icons: Select All and Search Result Actions. Save all and search result action icons

  1. Click the boxes next to each title you want to select, or
  2. Click on the Select All icon to select all results (this icon will change to a number if you selected items from the method in step 1)
  3. Clicking Search Result Actions will bring a drop down menu for you to select what you want to do with the chosen documents (export, print, email, add to folders, and side by side view)
    Save result options in drop down menu

Clicking "Side By Side View" will open a new window to show the items you selected and browse through them independently at the same time.
Side by side view option for search results

Browsing from within Search can also be performed from the Search results Page. When you are viewing a list of search results note that the metadata in some of the columns are hyperlinks.  By clicking on one of the hyperlinked fields you will jump to that browse folder where you can then browse the other contents of the folder.


MyWare is a feature that allows you to set up an individual account in Knowvation. While an account is not required to view items in the collection, it may be useful to repeat users who wish to:

  • save documents so they can be viewed easily on future visits;
  • save searches they perform regularly; and/or
  • receive email notification whenever new documents matching specific search criteria are added to the system.

To create a MyWare Account, click on the User icon in the upper left corner of the screen and select "Login."User icon for MyWare account

Myware link underneath the "Search" tab.  At the bottom of the login window, there is a link for new users to "Register Here."  You will need to create a user name and password, as well as enter your name (optional), e-mail and phone number (optional) to set up your account.

Once you have an account set up any search can be added to your MyWare account. Specific documents can be saved as Favorites by clicking the star icon next to a title.

Favorites icon and permanent link

For More Information...

For questions about accessing the New York State Documents in the Library's Digital Collections, please e-mail

Last Updated: August 23, 2021