Learn about: Similarities and differences between library catalogs and become acquainted with other online catalogs.
Other online library catalogs provide access to materials that the library does not have in its collection. Fortunately, there are many similarities between catalogs. Most online catalogs are searchable by author, title, subject and keywords. The results of your search will be the bibliographic record which will provide the author, title, name of publisher, place and date of publication, number of pages in the book, noteworthy features, and subject headings of the item.
However, because of differences in library software between competing companies, there are also differences between online catalogs. Libraries are able to customize some software options to make their interface (the way the screen looks) easier to use, more user-friendly, or improve how it functions. Web-based catalogs are generally easier to use and have minimized user difficulties, but differences still exist in the appearance of screens, terminology used, and search options. Screens may have different layouts, instructions may be located at the top or the bottom of the screen, or you may have to navigate through several screens before finding what you need. Terminology may also differ. A "word" search may also be called a "keyword" search. Some catalogs are case sensitive (it makes a difference whether upper or lower case letters are used). Or the catalog's truncation or wildcard symbol may vary.
Truncating or using a wildcard saves time, as you can do one search rather than several.
Truncation is adding a symbol to the end of a root word to retrieve word variations. In most catalogs and databases the truncation symbol is an asterisk (*). For example: alaska* would retrieve records containing Alaska, Alaskan, Alaskans, Alaska's, Alaskaland, Alaskafest, and any other word that begins with those letters.
Wildcards are special characters that replace a letter within a word. Truncation symbols vary between products, so read the "Help" screens. Using wildcards can be useful in retrieving documents containing variant spellings of the same word. Common wildcard symbols are *, #, and ?. For example: If the wildcard symbol is $, typing klond$ke would retrieve records containing Klondike or Klondyke.
Search options used in catalogs may also differ. The UA library catalog permits keyword searches in various fields (title, author, or subject). Other catalogs may not offer as many options. In some catalogs boolean searching is done differently; you may not have to use the word AND. And some catalogs allow you to limit your search by language, date, or format.
When entering any new database take advantage of any "Help" or instructional screens. Develop the habit of reading the screens, and use the "Help" as needed. Spending a little extra time familiarizing yourself with a new database may actually save you time and give you better search results.
WorldCat, one of the databases in OCLC FirstSearch, is the largest online catalog in the world. It contains the catalog materials of over 21,000 member libraries and currently provides access to over 41 million records representing over 400 languages. Like other library catalogs, WorldCat contains a wide variety of formats. You can expect to find books, computer data files, computer programs, films and slides, journals, magazines, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, newspapers, sound recordings, and videotapes. It will not include individual journal/magazine articles or book chapters.
OCLC FirstSearch is a collection of periodical indexes (general and subject), catalogs, etc. spanning all disciplines to which Rasmuson Library subscribes via the Internet. The terms of our subscription limit its use to UAF students, faculty and staff. You can search FirstSearch databases on campus or off-campus. However, if you are using a non-UAF Internet connection, you will need a UAF Email username and password to access FirstSearch via the proxy server.
To access WorldCat go to the Rasmuson Library . To get to WorldCat, go to the Rasmuson Library home page, and under the section “Find Books and Videos” click on the link to “more.” Then you’ll see a list that includes WorldCat under “Best Bets.”
Take a few moments to examine the help or instructional screens available. WorldCat screens are easy to navigate, but read them carefully as there are many options available that will improve the accuracy of your searches. From any screen you can access the following useful tools:
- Access HELP by clicking on the Help icon.
- Find the appropriate Library of Congress Subject Headings by clicking on the Subjects icon and typing in your word or concept.
- Select from Basic, Advanced or Expert searches (listed on the far left of the screen).
From the Basic search screen you can search by author, keyword, and title.
The Advanced search screen provides additional flexibility by allowing the addition of up to three search terms in a variety of fields (author, title, subject, keyword, conference or corporate name, publisher, series, and more) using boolean searching. Additional limits can be placed on year of publication, document type (books, maps, serial publications, sound recordings, computer files, etc.), and language. If you retrieve a large number of hits (results), consider adding other terms or options to further refine your search. You can also limit your search to materials owned by Rasmuson Library by checking the "Items in my library (UAF, University of Alaska - Elmer E. Rasmuson Library)" box.
The Expert search screen provides even more flexibility, but is command-driven. Read the instructions carefully to construct your search string.
Once the appropriate search terms have been entered, click on Search. Select the record you want to view and as you examine the Detailed Record of an individual item (below), notice that additional tools are now available.
- Use the Libraries icon to see which libraries own this item.
- Click on the ILL iconto borrow the item (interlibrary loan) from another library.
Be sure to verify that the Rasmuson Library does not own the item prior to requesting the item via ILL.
- Use the E-mail icon to e-mail the citation to your mailbox.
UAA Consortium Library Catalog
The UAA Consortium Library Catalog includes catalog materials in the AMHA - Museum Library, AML - Anchorage Municipal Libraries, ARLIS - Alaska Resources Library & Information Services, and the UAA Libraries.
Fairbanks Public Library
The Fairbanks North Star Borough Public and School Libraries catalog contains the holdings of the public library in Fairbanks, its branch library in North Pole, and the high school and middle school libraries in the Fairbanks area.