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Library Instruction

catalog intro

Introduction to Searching the Library Catalog

The library catalog provides information on materials that the library owns: the books, movies, music, magazines and journals on the library shelves, and some ebooks.

A search of the library catalog will bring back bibliographic records i.e.information about materials the library owns.

The bibliographic record includes the title, author, publisher, date of publication, the call number (the material’s location on the shelf) and may include subject headings, table of contents, or a summary.

Basic single search box:

Type in a search term or terms, hit enter, get bibliographic records.

Results will have all of the words entered

Any of the words can be anyplace in results

The search can be refined with the dropdown menu next to the search box:

Keyword: searches any important word in the entire record

Title: searches just for words in the title of the work

Journal title: searches just for journal titles (not books or magazines) and not articles within the journals

Author: searches for first or last names, order doesn’t matter

Subject: these are usually Library of Congress subject headings, and may or may not be what someone thinks of as a subject

Series: there are academic series, but those are not ordinarily searched. This is more for popular fiction, like the Harry Potter series

If you’re searching for a topic, and don’t know whether your term is an LC subject term, you can use a keyword search, select titles that look relevant, and use those subject headings to refine your search.


Advanced search:

Advanced searching allows searching multiple fields at once, using “and” or “or” such as title and author or one subject term or another.