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USING LIBRARY ONLINE CATALOGS: OVERVIEW

Keeley Library  Revised March 24, 2001
See also related topics:
  • Using your library card
  • Library Classification Systems
  • Classified  Lists of Web Resources
  • Finding Your Way in the Library
  • Library Floor Plan
  • Today, most library catalogs are online. The information that used to be on index cards has now been placed into large computer databases that are created and maintained by database vendors who sell this service to libraries and library networks or consortia.

    The Keeley Library is part of the SAILS Library Network.  WebCat™ is our online library catalog, and our online terminals are  located in the library reference area near the Encyclopedias. Durfee students and staff can access the library holdings of over 50  libraries from Southeastern Massachusetts.

    In different parts of our state and country, different versions of the online catalog exist. but most are similar in the following ways.

    ONLINE LIBRARY CATALOGS GENERALLY HAVE THE FOLLOWING FEATURES IN COMMON:
    Accessing the catalog: The catalog can be accessed both from within the library and from a remote computer.  For full services, such as placing holds,  users need to log in.
    Searching one library or
    many libraries:
    In a library, the online catalog is usually set to search the holdings of that particular library. In remote login from home or a school lab, the default is usually to search all libraries.The user needs to be aware of this before starting a search, and change the setting as needed.
    Menus and Toolbars: Various Menu and Toolbar buttons appear at the top of the page.
    These  menu and toolbar buttons make it easier to move around in the catalog, and to access services outside of the catalog. 
    Simple or Quick  Search: The catalog is set up to do a simple keyword search of everything, but the user can make changes by selecting other options.
    Displaying Results Displays a list of results. User can choose to view individual records .
    Capturing Results Selected items are viewed, saved, printed or sent
    Call Number Browse: The user can search for items in a particular call number range.

    Special Features of Complex , Advanced , or Power Searching
    Any of these words usually refer to the following

    Boolean Searching. The user can limit or expand a search  by combining search terms with the words, AND, OR, NOT, XOR. This can be very useful when an initial search either produces too many,  too few , or no items. Try your  own search for cats AND dogs, cats NOT dogs, cats OR dogs, to see the  different results for each search.
    Sorting a list of  Items  The user can use sorting to arrange results by date, title, author, etc. When searching for items about medicine, science  where recent information is desirable, the user should first select the complex search option, and then sort by date. ( The user should also use the online periodicals databases and Internet for recent articles..)
    Limiting a search by format: The user can limit the  type of material being searched, e.g. video, slides, by using the advanced search menu. Limiting search to one library or many: (Same as in simple search above,) Before searching, the user needs to decide if one or many library catalogs need to be searched.
    Limiting by language: e.g.. Spanish, Portuguese, English, etc. Limiting by special location within a library: e.g. Reference, Archives

    Return to Making the Keeley Library Work for YOU

    Return to Using Online Catalogs
    Return to History Resources Page

    Jane Constant  Keeley Library
    B.M.C.Durfee High School of Fall River
    September, 1978  to  June, 2001