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Basics of the Online Catalog
The OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog) is the starting point for most research in the library. Users can search for books,
journals, videos, musical CDs, CD-ROMs, and DVDs owned by the library. In addition, there are records for full-text electronic books (e-books) to which the library has access via NetLibrary.
Note: The OPAC does not contain journal articles. For guidelines on searching for articles, please see the research guide entitled "Locating Periodicals and Periodical Articles".
Getting Started | Simple Search | Viewing
Records | Saving and Printing
1. Go to the library home page
2. Click on the link for "Online Library Catalog"
(Note: If this page opens with five black squares, minimize the window and then maximize it to show the pictures and text.)
Searching for Records Using Simple Search
Keyword Search -- Highlight "Keyword" in the "Find Results in" box to look for search terms anywhere in the record.
Formatting your search statement:
You can combine all of the
above into a single search, using parentheses to group ideas:
(calculator? or computer? or "data processing") and history
Beginning of Title -- Use when you know the title of a work. Omit "a", "an", and "the" at the start of the title.
Title Keyword -- Use when you want specific words to appear in the title of a work, but don't care where.
Hint: "Title keyword" will usually retrieve more records than a "Beginning of title" search. For example, Hamlet as a "Beginning of title" search generates 23 hits; as a "Title keyword" search, it generates 42 hits.
Author -- Use to search for works by a particular author. Search structure is last name, first name.
Subject -- Use to search strictly-defined Library of Congress subject headings.
Call Number -- Use to find books that have a similar call number (and thus, similar subject matter) to a known book.
Journal Title Keyword -- Use to search for journal titles. The more words you use, the fewer titles you'll retrieve.
Hint: Use the pull-down "quick limits" menu to limit your results to certain materials. These can be helpful if, for example, you are only interested in recent materials, or are looking for a video.
For information on more powerful search techniques, please see the research guide entitled "Advanced Searching in the Online Catalog."
Once you've entered your search statement, hit the "Search" button. One of at least three things will happen:
1. You'll get a message that
says "The system could not interpret your search statement"
Make sure that all of your phrases are surrounded by quotation marks, that your quotation marks and parentheses are matched correctly, and that your "and" and "or" statements connect the phrases that you want them to.
2. You'll get a message that
says "Your search resulted in no hits!"
First, check your spelling and spacing. If everything is correct, re-do your search using different words or broader terms. If you still can't find any items on your topic, please visit the library reference desk, call the desk (630-7123) or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. You'll get a page showing
your search statement and the number of hits the search received. (See below.)
Scroll down the page to see titles and call numbers. Notice that the line under each title tells you the location of the item in the library, the call number, and whether the book is charged (checked out) or not. To see more information for the item, click on the title. (For author and subject searches, click on the number in blue to the left of the item you want, then click on the appropriate title.)
Once in the record screen, click on "Detailed Record" or "Table of Contents" (if applicable) to see more information.
To move through your results
list, either use the "Previous" and "Next" buttons located on each record
screen, or use the "Back" button on your browser to return to the results list
or any other previous screen.
To print the record you're viewing, use your browser's "Print" button. To print multiple records:
1. Go to the list of records
and place a check mark in the box to the left of each record you would like to
save or print.
2. At the bottom of the screen, click the appropriate button for the records you want to save (all on page, selected (=marked) on page, selected all pages).
3. Make sure the "Format Type" button for "Text File" is selected.
4. Click on the floppy disk icon under "Print/Save"
The records will display in
text format. You can use your browser's print button to print the records, or
save them to your computer or removable media (flash drive, floppy disk,
Updated March 6,
Davis Memorial Library, Methodist University