Still discovering iDiscover?

The Farewell to Voyager post a few weeks ago prompted some further comments about iDiscover. So here’s a quick follow-up post about iDiscover, which, in the best Darwinian tradition, is constantly evolving.

Let’s look first at a problem that has bugged many users of iDiscover – its inability to search for classmarks (i.e. shelfmarks). Readers will be pleased to hear that there has been some tweaking around this issue, and although not perfect, you can now browse through classmarks (be aware though that for notated music many classmarks will still be missing, as the majority of our music is NOT on the online catalogue).

The important thing to remember when hunting for classmarks is to BROWSE rather than search.

Click Browse, and then set the Browse search to author, title, subject (very useful if you’re researching around a particular topic), or classmark.

Festive iDiscover browsing

Be aware that the classmark search is slightly oddly arranged. For example…

….I browsed here for M501.c.95.6. That came up immediately, but rather than next jumping to M501.c.95.7 as you might expect, iDiscover files numbers slightly oddly, so it then jumps to 60 followed by the early 600’s. The important thing to remember though is that it is now possible to browse across a classmark. And I hope that there will be more improvements to this in the future.

One trick that’s worth knowing is that it is possible to set a permanent link to iDiscover so that you can search your favourite library immediately. The permanent link for the UL can be found here, and the Pendlebury here.

If you wish to set up a permanent link for a search box for your favourite library, it’s easy to do so. Each library will have its own unique code in the URL for the iDiscover search. To discover the code simply do any search in iDiscover, having set the box at the right hand side of the search box to the library of your choice. For example, let’s say we want to set up a permanent link to only search the Pendlebury collections…

First we do a random search in the Pen’s collections.

Next, have a look at the long URL that is now conjured up. The section that you’re specifically looking for is the group of letters after &search_scope=.

Here you can see the code for the Pendlebury (ringed in orange), a none too surprising “PEN”.

Now to create the permanent link. Return to the original iDiscover search URL, which, in full, is this –

Simply add “&search_scope=PEN” (without quotes) to the end of the previous URL to create a permanent URL to search Pendlebury collections only

Once you’ve found the code you need, you can just set the URL up, and shouldn’t need to worry about it again; but this does mean that you can set up a new permanent URL to the library of your choice whenever you need to. This should still work post-ALMA, and if it doesn’t, please contact MusiCB3, who will have a go at cracking the puzzle!

Library catalogues can be confusing, and we do our best to ease the confusion. The Music Department at the UL and the Pendlebury regularly run training sessions around the beginning of the academic year. There are also behind the scenes tours, and advice on searching the music collections, which are available throughout the year. Keep checking for further information. We can also provide 1-2-1 tailored training sessions too where needed, so please get in touch.









About mj263

Music Collections Supervisor at Cambridge University Library. Wide musical interests. Often to be found stuck in a composer's archive, or enthusing about antiquarian music.
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6 Responses to Still discovering iDiscover?

  1. Reblogged this on SPS Library Blog and commented:
    The Farewell to Voyager post a few weeks ago prompted some further comments about iDiscover. So here’s a quick follow-up post about iDiscover, which, in the best Darwinian tradition, is constantly evolving. [Blog author]

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Margaret,

    Note that you can also just search by classmark in the main search bar. This introduces some interesting functionality that allows you to play around with wildcards and boolean searching, which to some extent emulates (and improves on) browsing by classmark. Note that you need to use the ‘sort by’ function on your results list, because otherwise the system lists the holding/item records (wherever it gets the classmark from) first because they’re more relevant, and so the results list is just classmarks without titles. For instance:

    – search by keyword “M501.c.95.6” – the only result is the book you’re after.
    – search by keyword “M501.c.95.*” – all results within that classmark range (not in classmark order, but you can use filters and sorting to impose date order)
    – search by keyword “M501.*.95.*” – all results in that date range and classification, irrespective of size.

    So, for instance, searching for this:
    (M950.* OR C200.*) AND “edward elgar”
    enables you to see some books about Elgar that you wouldn’t see if you were browsing on the shelf at whatever his classmark is.

    I hope this helps,

    Josh H


    • mj263 says:

      Ah, now that’s very useful to know. You weren’t able to search at all for classmarks in the search box at one point, so that’s a huge improvement. Very useful to have follow-up comments on iDiscover. Thanks Josh. (Elgar incidentally will be at M501!)


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