University of Utah Library Guides
All University of Utah libraries course and research guides, in one place.

Mountain West Digital Library

This is a guide for users of the Mountain West Digital Library. Here you can find links to other helpful websites as well as guidelines for conducting research.

Quick Start

Enter a search term and enter to get started

Quick Search Tips

Avoid common or broad terms such as "Utah" or "History".

Choose Text, Images, Collections, Sounds, etc. in Advanced Search to limit to one of those material types.

Include terms appropriate for your time period, such as older spellings of words ("aeroplane") and "baby carriage* OR pram*".

Search Tutorial

Boolean searching and other operators

Boolean searching

MWDL supports searching for terms and phrases in combination using Boolean searching. There are three Boolean operators: AND, OR, and NOT.


OR combines related terms and produces a broad result set. It is often used to search for synonyms, ex: car OR automobile. This will find items containing either car or automobile.


AND searches for two or more unrelated terms and retrieves a narrower, more focused result set. For example, you might search family AND bible to find items about family bibles, which were often used to keep family history records.


To exclude words or phrases, use NOT. NOT further limits your search and should be used with caution, as you may inadvertently eliminate relevant results. For example, you might search "mustang NOT automobile" to find items about wild horses instead of automobiles. 

MWDL's advanced search tool offers the ability to choose specific fields (like title, subject, creator, description) to search within, and you can use Boolean operators to build targeted searches. For example, you might search for a narrow term in the title, but a broad term elsewhere, such as for a name (Smith) in titles AND a place (Utah) in any field. 

Search Operators

Enclose specific phrases in quotation marks – “mormon migration” or “Oregon trail” or “family bible”. Remember AND is the default, so these searches will look for "TERM1 AND TERM2." 

Wildcard - use * to search for any number of characters. For example, hist* will find history, historic, historical, historiography, etc.

Question mark – use ? to perform a single character wildcard search. For example, searching wom?n will find materials with woman, women, or womyn.

Marriott Library Eccles Library Quinney Law Library