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Introducing Sofia: the Shared Library Search Tool

Sofia is a shared bilingual discovery tool for all academic libraries in Quebec

Searching Effectively

To get the most out of Sofia, it's good to get familiar with its different tools for gaining control over your searches. Click the tabs on the box below to get acquainted with these tools.

Search Tips

Boolean operators (ET/AND/+, OU/OR, SAUF/NOT/-) are inserted between keywords in a search box or between search boxes to connect or exclude certain words or phrases.

For Sofia to recognize them, Boolean operators must be UPPERCASE, in French or English.

Keywords and their Boolean operators are processed left to right.


Narrows search results by returning only items that include both words/ phrases connected through the operator.
Example: photography AND war

* If no other operator is entered in the search box, a Boolean AND is by default inserted between the words.

OU/OR Broadens search results by returning items that include either word/phrase connected through the operator.
Example: cellular OR smartphone
SAUF/NOT/- Reduces search results by excluding items that include the word/phrase after the operator.
Example: “renewable energy” EXCEPT hydroelectricity

For more information on Boolean operators, click here.


Specify the order in which Boolean operators are applied to group keywords. Once the search is launched, Sofia interprets the words and operators in brackets first, and interprets the words and operators outside the brackets last.


  • (itinéran* OR sans-abri OR homeless*) AND (adolescent* OR teenage*)

Use French (« ») or English (" ") quotation marks to find an exact phrase or the closest words.


  • "Autism spectrum disorder"
  • "Indigenous Women"
  • «Philippe Aubert de Gaspé»


An asterisk (*) searches for the variant or different endings of a word. This generally increases search results. At least three letters must precede the asterisk.


  • Petrol* = petrol, pétrole, pétrolier, pétrolière, pétrolate, pétrolatum, petroleum, etc.


Wildcards are used in search terms to represent one or more other characters in a search term. There are two wildcards you can use in Sofia - the number sign (#) and the question mark (?).

The number sign (#) replaces one letter in a word.


  • Wom#n = woman, women
  • Thes#s = thesis, theses, thèses

The question mark (?) substitutes several letters (9 maximum).


  • Encyclop?dia = encyclopedia, encyclopaedia
  • P?diatric = pediatric, paediatric

For more information on truncation or wildcards, click here.

Index or fields are pieces of information that library databases keep for each article, book, etc. that they search. For example, every article has its own title, author(s), subject terms, abstract, date, etc. -- and each of these pieces of information are recorded in their own field. (Richard G. Trefry Library. (2018, November 25). What is "field searching?"

In a basic Sofia search, all indexes are searched at the same time. But you can also specify individual indexes you want to search.

Most indexes are displayed in the Advanced Search window, but you can also enter their abbreviations in the in search boxes (in basic or advanced search), and combine them with different operators.

The following list includes the most commonly used indexes and their abbreviations:

*Please note that a colon (:) after an abbreviation launches a keyword search in the index, but the equal sign (=) is used to find a specific phrase in the index In the latter case, the phrase must be located at the beginning of the field in question, without any words after, which significantly narrows results. When in doubt, use a colon with quotation marks. Ex.: kw:“early childhood”. As such:

ti=early childhood
means that we’re looking for documents precisely entitled “Early Childhood”. A document entitled « Early Childhood : A Survey of Best Practices” would therefore not be included in the search results.
ti:"early childhood"
searches for the phrase « early childhood » wherever it may be within the title field, even in combination with other words.

Author au:shakespeare
au=shakespeare william
ISBN bn:9782742798247
ISSN in:0018-165x
Keyword kw:enfance
kw=petite enfance
Language ln:fra
Editor     pb:boreal
pb=presses de  luniversite laval
Subject su:rome
su=rome antique
Title ti:antigone
ti=le pays renversé
Year of Publication yr:2017
Barcode bq:X38579059
Format x0:artchap
Click here  for the format abbreviations.
Call number

nu: PG or nu: ps3515


b8: 'Wainwright Collection'

This search index is very useful to search for specific collections, when the collection name is in the document's location.

Do not use spaces between index abbreviations and punctuation marks ( : or =), or between punctuation marks and keywords. Ex. : au=shakespeare william

Click on author (au=), subject (su:) or collection (se:) to automatically launch a new index search from an item in the results list.

Examples of new searches generated by clicking on item links:

au=Sonic, Michael
(Displays all of the author’s publications)

se:Advances in Spatial Science, The Regional Sciences Series
(Displays all of the collection’s publications)

su:Space in economics Mathematical models
(Displays all publications related to the subject matter)

Liaison Librarian

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David Greene
Humanities & Social Sciences Library

Liaison Librarian

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Clara Turp
3459 McTavish Street Montreal, Quebec
H3A 0C9

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