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About Canned Searches

Canned searches allow you to provide a dynamic link to a particular title or set of records. They can be useful....

  • for faculty to provide a short cut for students to the reserve readings for a class
  • in bibliographies, when you don't want to list numerous locations/call numbers or you don't have the space to show complicated journal holdings
  • for pre-defining specific types of information (all periodicals about dance)
  • as a quick search method for a lengthy standardized strategy (alcohol abuse OR alcoholism OR problem drinking OR alcohol? intoxication)

These instructions are best used for canned keyword searches that return fewer than 100 titles.

Note that limits cannot be applied to canned searches.

Course Reserve

Building a Course Reserve canned search for a particular course:

  1. Perform the search in MadCat
  2. Once you're done with the search, copy the resulting URL. In Netscape, this is the text in the Location: field. In Internet Explorer, this is the text in the Address: field.
  3. The resulting URL is made up of several parts, some of which must be included and some of which must be deleted for the canned search to work correctly as a HTML link:
    • The URL must start with
    • The arguments (everything after are separated by an & and seem to be able to occur in any order. However, you do not need an & between and your first argument.
    • You must have the following arguments:
      • DB=local
      • CNT=25
      • CRSE=COURSENAME where COURSENAME is replaced by the full name of the desired course and various numbers and/or symbols
    • You must not include the PID=blah, SEQ=blah, or SID=blah arguments.
    • The optional argument HIST=blah may be omitted.
    • You should omit the values for elements not used in the Course Reserve search (INST=Any, DEPT=Any, SECT=Any).


After performing the Course Reserve search for the class POLSCI 104: Introduction to American Politics & Govt, you would have the following URL (all on one line):


...which can be reduced to (all on one line)...

&CNT=25 (Try It)

(Note the addition of the DB=local argument)


  • When the URL returns more than one page of results, there is an error with using the Next button. You are taken to a screen that has a results table and numbered boxes, but no titles. To avoid this, you may wish to set the CNT=25 variable (which indicates the records per page) up to 100 and avoid using canned searches that bring up large numbers of results.

  • If the search terms have colons, quotes, or spaces, you must replace them to ensure the URL works correctly.
    • Replace spaces with %20
    • Replace quotes with %22
    • Replace colons with %3A
    • For instance, "Journal of Algorithms" would be %22Journal%20of%20Algorithms%22 in the URL.
  • Limits cannot be applied to canned searches

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