The library catalogue is a bit like the human brain; not fully utilised. By the time you’ve got to the bottom of this post however you’ll have (hopefully) become something of an expert.
1) The Classic Catalogue. This is the one we link to from the blog. Some entries (especially titles published in the United States) display book covers, and contain book reviews and synopses and character descriptions, which is helpful. There are different browsing options, depending on what you’re after.
Title browse: don’t forget that any self-respecting library catalogue ignores definite and indefinite articles (in any language), so don’t type “the” or “a” or “an”, or “te” (if you’re browsing a title in Te Reo Māori).
Author/name browse: this is more forgiving than the Author/name search. You should type last name, first name.
Subject browse: when you’re browsing subjects it’s important not to use punctuation in your search, even if you might think it should be there. Two classic examples: “Quimby Ramona” (instead of “Quimby, Ramona”) and “World War 1939 1945″ (instead of “World War, 1939-1945″). This handy hint will save you minutes and minutes of frustration and annoyance.
Keyword search: this searches every field in the catalogue record except the author/name-of-person-responsible. This is useful if you want to restrict your subject searching, for example “cats young adult” or “twilight dvd”. Note that doing a keyword search for an author will only bring up entries where they are mentioned (for example a keyword search for “Stephenie Meyer” only brings up the Twilight DVD entries and not her books).
Searching for series. Use the series search for series that have more than one author (for example the My Story series or Quentaris). For a series written by one author do an author browse – you’ll see all their series listed (Tamora Pierce, is a very good example).
- want to know which DVDs have just come in? Do a keyword search for “DVD” and you’ll find them listed in order of entry (sometimes hot off the press). A keyword search for “Young Adult CD” does the same thing.
- want to do a retrospective movie watching of your favourite actor? A keyword search of their name (this time first name last name) will give you a list of the DVDs we’ve got of their movies. Note that if they’ve got a small bit part in something this might not show up (for example Robert Pattinson isn’t listed in the Harry Potter… entry) – you’ll have to go to something like IMDB for their entire catalogue.
- “” “” “” of your favourite director? An author/name browse (last name, first name) will list all their movies (that we’ve got). [Note: a name browse won't pull up actors unless they've directed something or written a book.]
Scholarship Level Style Browsing (some tips from the cataloguers):
- Asterisks. Use the * to truncate words. For example cat* will search for cat, cats, catalogue, catseye, catastrophe etc. Alternately *fish will search for catfish, starfish etc. You need to use a minimum of three letters to get the best out of this.
- Question marks. Inserting a question mark into a word will also expand your search options. This is good, for example, for plurals. Leonard’s example is “wom?n” which will search for “woman” and “women”.
2) Easyfind Catalogue. This is much more forgiving if your spelling can be a bit wobbly, thanks to its Discover spiderweb thingy. Easyfind searches the library catalogue and website simultaneously, and if you log in with your card number and last name you can swamp yourself with information by searching all of the My Gateway databases as well (this is what they call a federated search – you really wanted to know that).
The best way to search on Easyfind is to type in a broad-ish subject and then refine (using the box on the right of the screen).
We’ll have a flash new upgraded version soon, which has some neat additions: you’ll be able to create an account for yourself, create lists, tag books you’ve read, write notes and reviews (which you can share or keep private) and much more. This’ll be invaluable for keeping track of stuff you’ve taken out of the library. Denver Public Library has this whizzbang flash version already.