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Library Orientation Guide: Using the Library Catalog

This guide provides an overview of Bailey Library, its layout, services, and how to use them.

Searching The Library Catalog

The Library Catalog is used to locate a record of virtually any item in the library's holdings, be it a book, e-book, journal, e-journal, kit, DVD, government document, or other material.  This record will then tell you where to find the item in the library (or if it is on-line, where you can access it)  and can be used to point you to similar items should they exist.  

You can access the library catalog from any computer with an internet connection via a link on the library website (See video below) or you may access the catalog directly using the following web address:

Tips on searching the catalog successfully:

  • Do not use articles ("A", "An", "The") at the beginning of a search even if they appear at the beginning of the title you are searching for.  For example: a title search for The Wind in the Willows, A Separate Peace, or The Journal of Chemistry would fail, but a search for Wind in the Willows, Separate Peace, or Journal of Chemistry would succeed.

  • Be as specific as possible to avoid being overwhelmed with results.  Use the "Search By:" options to limit your results to particular elements of the catalog record.  For example, if you do not recall the complete title of the work you are looking for, but know that it contained the words "school" and "children", a "Search by:" Title Search and a "Search For:" school children would return 2 results.  A "Search By:" Keyword Ranked Search would return over 10000 results, many of which might mention "school" or "children" somewhere in the record but have little to do with either.   
  • If you are looking for materials on a particular topic, try a Search by: Subject Heading, or Subject Keyword Search if searching by Keyword is producing too many results.  Try synonyms if your initial search isn’t returning results. 
  • Limit your search to a few words unless you know your phrase appears in the title or possibly table of contents of what you’re looking for.
  • When you find a record for an item you feel may be useful, check that record for additional keywords to search for.  You can click on linked material in any record and the catalog will automatically search for other records with that keyword or heading. 

Contact Research Services via phone (724) 738-2641, or in-person at the 1st Floor Research Services Desk  if you need help using the catalog to locate materials.  

Video: Access the Library Catalog from the University Website

Interpreting Your Catalog Results

What we are viewing here are the results of a Search By: Title Search and a Search For: Wind in the Willows. Bailey Library has four records with a title of "Wind in the Willows".  If you wanted additional information regarding each individual title: for example, the date it was published, and if there are any notes or additional information describing the item, you would click on the title or the title/author.

However, the information on under each title does provide enough information to find the item in the library.  You really only need three pieces of information to quickly find the material in the library: Library Location, Call Number, and Status.  If you were to write the first two pieces of information down, and have basic knowledge of how an academic library works, you could probably find these materials within the library or on-line.

The Library Location will inform you which section of the library the material is in.  We can see that one version of the Wind in the Willows is located on the 3rd floor in the Main Collection.  Another version is located on the 2nd floor in the IMC (Instructional Materials Center).  A third version of the Wind in the Willows is located online as an Electronic Book or E-Book.  

Call Number: The Call Number will allow you to pinpoint the book's location.  Materials in the Main Collection use the Library of Congress Classification System.  Materials in the Instructional Materials Center utilize the Dewey Decimal System.  Materials in the Reading Room are in alphabetical order by the author's last name.  

Status: Indicates if the material is checked in (therefore available to be checked out), or otherwise missing.  If a title is checked out, you can still enter the title's record and request a hold: you will be notified where you are in line and when the book is due back.  

If a title is an electronic resource, you could click into the record (see example below) and from there, click on the Web Link to be directed to the database containing the material.  Note that you will need your SRU Login and Password, or your library barcode to access the material if you are not on-campus.  (Note: Due to licensing agreements, some materials may only be accessed while you are on campus.)

Note the wide variety of hyperlinks in the record: you could use these to continue your research.  For example, if you're interested in other books in Bailey Library that are Juvenile Fiction and have to do with Animals, you could click on "Animals Juvenile Fiction" next to Subject.  This would perform a Subject search for all materials with a subject of "Animals Juvenile Fiction" in Bailey Library's holdings.  Or, if you're interested in other books by the author, you could click on "Grahame, Kenneth" by Main Author to view other books by Kenneth Grahame if Bailey Library has any.