Finding Books in a Library Catalog -- A good place to start
Libraries come in all sizes and flavors, from a 10,000 volume small branch public library to a 10 million volume university library. To use a library catalog most effectively, you want to tailor your approach to the size and kind of library it is. With smaller libraries and public libraries, your best bet is often to use a broad general search via Keyword, or Word, or similar options. Using a large research library effectively, however, typically requires using official Library of Congress Subject Headings, as well as other available searching tools. Of course, no matter what tool you are using, a good search is an iterative one: search with the information you have, learn something (terms, spelling, concepts, etc.), then search again. Also, Subject Headings found in one catalog can almost always be used in another catalog to find more, or different, materials.
Let's look at a few library catalogs:
- Cabrillo College Library (library.cabrillo.edu): a small college library (90,000 items)
- Santa Cruz Public Library (catalog.santacruzpl.org): a small public library system (561,000 items)
- UCSC Library ( cruzcat.ucsc.edu): a small research library (over 1 million items)
- Library of Congress (catalog.loc.gov): the largest library in the world (138 million items)