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Tips for Getting Started


Whether you are looking for a specific item or just want to have a look around, the more than one million items in our Digital Collections can be a bit overwhelming. Knowing this, we’ve provided some tips to help you navigate our new look!


Just browsing?

If you’re just looking to “follow your nose” through the collection, you can start by clicking the Browse All button on the left toolbar. This will show you every item in the Denver Public Library’s Digital Collections, with the latest additions at the beginning. Hovering over an item will show you its full title and additional information, such as item type. 


If you’re inspired by a particular format (i.e. art, audio, video, photograph), you can filter by these formats using the list on the left. This filter list will also allow you to filter by the first letter of the title, whether or not the item has OCR (transcribed text), and the date.


Looking for something specific?

If you are looking for something more specific, such as a name, place, or archival collection, or have a more defined search you will have two options: the simple search or the advanced search. 


Simple Search

This can be done using the search bar on the homepage. Using this method will look for all of the words in the search query in the title and descriptive fields. For example, if the search query is Evans Elementary School, it will return results for "Evans" and "Elementary" and "School," with the most relevant results first. You can either browse your search results or filter by a range of options on the left-hand menu. 


Advanced Search

Advanced search is best used for filtering and refining for specific results. This can be done using the Search Icon (with magnifying glass) on the left-hand menu. Enter the search query into the search box and then apply additional filters using the dropdown menus below the search box (if these are not changed, the defaults will apply). You can change the format type (Format), the type of data you are searching in (Within Data), the date range (Date), and all keywords, any keywords, or an exact phrase match (Search For). For example, if you are searching for photographs by Burnis McCloud between 1930 and 1940, you would change Format to “Photograph” and enter the date range for “Date.”  Once the results are returned, you can browse the results or refine them even further by using the Add or Restrict Keywords. For example, if you add the word “clubs” and update the search, the results would return only photographs with the word “clubs” in the descriptive information.


Note that either of these search tools will search the metadata and content (if it is a text item) of everything in the Special Collections and Archives (SCA) Digital Collections unless specified.


Information Items

The Denver Public Library Digital Collections also have “information items” which we use to bring together related materials. They won’t have an image or file attached to them, but you can use these to find a group of items that might help your research. These include the following formats: Collection and Oral History. 

Collections will help to highlight materials from a particular project, function, or creator, and each Collection will have a search box that searches only within that Collection. 

Oral Histories will bring together transcripts, photographs, and audio and/or video files from a particular oral history.