Search service

Libraries Australia Search (or ‘LA Search’) allows subscribers to perform simple and complex searches in the ANBD and a range of external databases. You can search for an item, find bibliographic details, locate a library in Australia that holds it, and follow a number of paths to obtain it.

Members can access LA Search 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by logging in from the top right-hand corner of any of these web pages.

Searches can be performed on any combination of authors, titles, control numbers, subject headings or keywords in author, subject, title and notes fields. They can be limited in many ways, e.g. by language, publication date, ISBN/ISSN, material type and where held.

LA Search supports Boolean operators using simple and nested logic, truncation, wildcard and the synonym operator, relational and adjacency operators.

Search from one of 3 interfaces:

Basic Search

Basic Search allows you to enter a single search query similar to that of a search engine such as Google or Yahoo. You can:

  • search by a single keyword e.g. dolphins,
  • search by multiple keywords e.g. term natural will find “For the term of his natural life”,
  • search by phrase by enclosing search terms in inverted commas e.g. “Australian Light Horse”,
  • search by ISBN e.g. 0312585152,
  • find books by a certain publisher e.g. Shambhala.

In database terms, an Index is a field you can search on. When doing a Basic Search, the following indexes are searched:

  • Title Keyword
  • Name Keyword
  • Subject Keyword
  • Publisher Name Keyword
  • Notes Keyword
  • Standard Identifier indexes (i.e. ISBN, ISSN, ISMN, ANBD Number, etc.)

Advanced Search

Advanced Search allows you to conduct more complex searches than Basic Search. You can:

  • select indexes using multiple drop-down menus,
  • select a ‘grouping’ for your search terms: all of these, any of these, as a phrase, starts with and exact match,
  • combine search terms using Boolean operators,
  • select Material Group Limits (as with Basic Search),
  • limit a search by year/s of publication,
  • limit a search by where items are held either by: Australian state/territory; or in/not in your library.

The following indexes are available from the drop-down menu in Advanced Search:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Subject
  • Any Keyword
  • Number (e.g. ISBN, ISSN, ANBD Number etc.)
  • OCLC Number
  • Classification
  • Publisher
  • Series
  • Notes
  • Related Periodical
  • Place Published
  • Library Symbol
  • Language

Command Search

Command Search is the most powerful of the search interfaces. You can perform more specific and complex searches than Basic and Advanced Search. All ANBD indexes are available from the drop-down menus in Command Search. See Appendix 3 of the Search Manual for a complete list of indexes and their codes.

Command Search requires the use of Common Command Language (CCL) as well as a familiarity with the codes used in the various database indexes. The Guide me function enables you to use Command Search if you are less familiar with CCL and index codes.

Command Search allows the use of adjacency and relational operators which cannot be used in the other 2 interfaces. See Chapter 11 of the Search Manual for more information on these operators.

Other ways of searching Libraries Australia

Did you know that you don’t need to use the LA Search interface to search Libraries Australia? You can also use:


You can limit your search by material type and/or categories of material in Basic and Advanced Search by clicking the check box next to a particular category. One or more limits can be selected.

Note: once selected, limits remain on for the session unless you change or clear them, i.e. when a new search is begun the limits previously selected will still be on for that search.

All limits are available when searching on Australian Library Collections. Limits are not available for most of the other databases. If you combine a search on Australian Library Collections with another database, your limits will be restricted to those available in the other database.

See Appendix 1 of the Search Manual for details of indexes and codes used with Material Group Limits.

Browse Terms

Browse Terms enables you to browse a list of terms in a chosen database and select a term to use in a search query. To use this function select the Browse Terms tab at the top of any LA Search screen.

For more information on Browse Terms, see Chapter 12 of the Search Manual.

Keeping Searches & Record

There are several features that allow you to save and reuse your search queries and results, they include: Search History; Saved Records; and Saved Queries. These functions are covered in detail in Chapter 6 of the Search Manual.


Alerts allow you to save your search query so that the search will be automatically run again either weekly, monthly or every 3 months. Your alert search then looks for newly added or changed records that match the search query and sends search results to you by email.

Alerts are great for assisting with Collection Development or just keeping abreast of recent publications in a specific topic.

Please note that alerts can only be created for searches on Australian Library Collections and Libraries Australia Authorities and are only available for users with personal accounts.

See Chapter 7 of the Search Manual for more information on Alerts including how to Create, Edit, Renew and Delete them.

Note: The maximum number of alerts per account is 100. The maximum number of records you can get in an alert is 500.

Searching External Databases

In addition to Australian Library Collections, Libraries Australia provides access to many external databases. To search one of these databases, click on Select databases at the bottom of the search screen.

Users can specify for each of their accounts the database/s to be selected by default when they login. The default database for all user accounts is initially Australian Library Collections. Please contact the Help Desk if you would like a different default database.

See Chapter 15 of the Search Manual for more information on searching other databases.

Libraries Australia Authorities

Libraries Australia Authorities allows you to search on all authorised headings added to the ANBD. When you search this database, your results will be authority rather than bibliographic records.

All the ANBD search rules apply.

OCLC WorldCat Authorities

OCLC WorldCat Authorities contains authority records for names, uniform titles and series created by the Library of Congress i.e. Library of Congress Subject Headings.

The search rules are different from searching the ANBD:

  • Search using Advanced or Command Search.
  • Use ? to truncate names or subject headings to find the exact form in the authority file e.g. shakespear? or spider?
  • Do not use diacritics in your search query as they are not displayed in any records.

Viewing Records

You can print, email, download and save records from any of these views.

See Appendix 2 of the Search Manual for a list of fields displayed in each view.

Brief View

Brief View is the view displayed on the Summary Results screen after a search is run. Brief view provides less detail than Full view and only displays the main fields i.e. title, author and place and date of publication.

Full View

Full View displays all available information about an item, including a list of libraries that hold it. In Full view you can use the hyper linked fields to find other information e.g. click on the author’s name or the subject field to find a list of other works by that author, or on that subject.

Libraries that hold an item are listed at the bottom of the record in Full view. The hyper links on the library’s names take you to their entry in the Australian Libraries Gateway (ALG). To look at a record in Full view click on its hyper linked title in the Summary Results screen.

Librarian’s view

Librarian’s view displays MARC field tags and includes all fields in the bibliographic record. To look at a record in Librarian’s view first go to the full view, then, click on Librarian's view at the top of the screen.

Getting Records

You can print, email or download records in a variety of formats with or without their holdings for research purposes. Available formats are:

  • Brief record
  • Full record
  • MARC (Unicode)
  • MARC (MARC-8)
  • Citation

When emailing records you can send them to multiple email addresses by separating the email addresses with either a semi-colon (;) or comma (,).

Users can email and download records to import into bibliography management packages (e.g. EndNote or ProCite). Choose the citation format when exporting records for this purpose.

If users would like to obtain MARC records for cataloguing purposes, please see: Obtaining records from the ANBD for how to do so.

Getting Items

LA Search gives you options for obtaining a particular item via Get this item (for Australian Library Collections and Australian Journal Articles only). The options for obtaining items are available from 4 tabs:


This tab contains links to digital objects and/or any online information about the item. You will not be able to access this tab if there are no online links to the item.

At Your Library

Contact details of your library are displayed under this tab. If your library has made its catalogue available to Libraries Australia, the item’s availability is also displayed. You should see details like item call number, coverage and availability. Further information relating to this library takes you to the ALG directory, whilst the supply policy links to the ILRS directory.

Note: ‘Your library’ is the library that you are accessing Libraries Australia from, or if you logged in using a username and password, it is the library that this username and password belongs to.

At Other Libraries

This tab allows users to Request a loan through your library or Request a photocopy through your library. These options however are only available with enhanced requesting activated. Libraries should contact the Help Desk if they would like Enhanced Requesting turned on.

If another library holds the item, their holdings information will also display under this tab in order of state/territory i.e. libraries in your state first, followed alphabetically by other states/territories. You can search each library’s catalogue by clicking on Search catalogue and you can find out more about each one by clicking on About this library.

Note: A green Search catalogue (green) button means that the library’s catalogued is deep linked.

At Bookshops/Suppliers

This tab contains an Online bookshops link, which takes the users to a list of bookshops that may hold the item they are looking for. Libraries Australia can automatically search some of the bookshops and tell you if the bookshop can supply the item. This tab also contains Suppliers information e.g. Infotrieve.

Check Copyright Status

LA Search contains a function that provides clear copyright information to users via Check copyright status. This button activates an algorithm which generates information regarding copyright use and provisions by using the information contained in the bibliographic record of the item in the ANBD.

Check copyright status appears to the right of Get this item in the Full view screen.

It is important to note that the calculation of copyright status will only ever be as accurate and complete as the data contained in the catalogue record.


Most users access Libraries Australia via a ‘shared account’ which means that settings apply to everyone using that account. Personalisation enables users, whether end users or library staff, to create a ‘personal account’ within the shared account.

Personal accounts allow you to:

  • choose your own login and password
  • save records and queries
  • create alerts
  • specify which search screen will display at login
  • customise default databases for searching
  • choose up to 3 libraries as ‘my libraries’

Activating Personalisation

Libraries who wish to activate personalisation should contact the Help Desk with the ‘shared account’ they want it to be activated on. Once this has been set up, anyone logging into the ‘shared account’ will see an option to ‘create a personal account.’ Selecting this option will enable users to create and start using their own account. Any searching done by individual users will appear in Libraries Australia usage reports against these logins.

See Chapter 17 of the Search Manual for more information on personalisation.

Deep Linking

Deep linking enables you to directly search a library OPAC or online bookshop through Libraries Australia. To find out more, including how to set your library or bookshop up with this function, see our deep linking page.