Using Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN)

Open Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN) in another browser window to work through this tutorial side by side.

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This tutorial will show you how to find narratives in the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN).

Use the Right Arrow at the bottom of this window to move through the tutorial.


The Digital Archive of Literacy Narrative (DALN) is a freely available collection of personal literacy narratives. These narratives come in a variety of formats from written documents to videos.

This tutorial will lead your through searching and browsing options in the DALN.

Use the active webpage on your right to complete the tutorial.

Using Quick Search

At the DALN home page, you can use the Quick Search box to find narratives.

Quick Search box

  • Under Quick Search, type in reading.
  • Click GO.
  • The search results page, gives you the title of the narrative, an author (if available) and the date it was created. It also provides a URL which may be needed for citing.
  • Scroll down and click on “Reading: A Family Affair” by Norris, Alison.

Now you will see more information about this narrative. Often this includes some description and then a link to the file. It will also tell you the Format of the file. In this case, the file is a Word document.

Using Advanced Search

  • Continue to scroll down and click on Advanced Search.
  • Now three rows of search boxes will appear above the Advanced Search option giving you options for narrowing your search.
  • You can choose to search in specific fields.

What is a field?

Let’s see what fields are available.

  • Under Search Type, find the Full Text box. Click on the blue area with the arrow heads.
  • These are all the fields you can search in. drop down menu Advanced
  • While Full Text is the default field, you can choose to search only in the Title field or the Description field.

Using Advanced Search - continued

  • Select Title field.
  • Type in critical thinking in the search box to the right of Title field.
  • Click GO.

You will see search results that the words critical or thinking (or some form of them) appear somewhere in the Title field.

However, the search results may be too limited.

  • Change the field from Title field back to the default of Full Text.  Keep the same search for critical thinking.
  • Click GO.
  • This returns over 1000 results since it is not limited to the Title field.
  • Look at the Search Results list and find “Education, the living entity”.
  • Click on the title “Education, the living entity”.

Now you are at another page about this item. Do the words critical thinking appear on this page?
They do not. You may be wondering why "Education, the living entity" appeared in the search results list.
It looks as though the DALN is pulling keywords from the full text transcripts of the written documents, audio files, and video files.


Full Record

However, this is more information available about this title “Education, the living entity”.

  • Click “Show full item record”.

show full record

This takes you down one more level to the full record for “Education, the living entity”.

This tells you when the narrative was created, age of the creator (through birth date), nationality, and additional subjects like first-generation student and struggle.

This information is being accessed, behind the scenes, while you search.


DALN also has browse options.

  • Scroll down and look for the Browse section in the lower right.
  • Click Date Submitted.
  • In the upper middle box, type in 2015.
  • Click GO.

Now you can see the most recent submissions to DALN.

  • Scroll back down to Browse.
  • Click Subjects.
  • See the Subjects available starting with numbers & years.
  • In the upper middle box, type in writing.
  • Click GO.
  • Now you will see Subjects that start with the word writing.
  • Click on “Next Page”.
  • Click on “Writing class, memoir” to see what has been tagged with that subject.

In this case, only one item is tagged.


This concludes the introduction to searching and browsing in the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN).

Now that you’ve finished:

  • Complete the short 2-question quiz on the next page.
  • Enter your email and your professor’s email when prompted.
  • Send the email.
  • Print your quiz results if desired.

Let us know what you think about the tutorial by clicking on the feedback link.
Questions? Contact the library or 209-228-4444


This is an example of a field from the Advanced Search in DALN.


Does DALN allow you to limit your search results to only text files.


Please enter your name and email address to retrieve a copy of your completed quiz.

You can enter multiple email addresses separated by commas, with no spaces (for example,, If you are doing this for a class, you may need to enter your instructor's email address also.
Note: It could take up to 10 seconds to generate the certificate. Please do not click the Print/Send button more than once.