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Library Catalog


This tutorial shows you how to get started finding books in the Library Catalog, including search tips.

Use the Library Catalog to find materials that are physically in the library building.

Use the catalog to find our Books! our Movies!

Also use the catalog to find our Journal and Magazine titles - NOT journal or magazine articles.

What does that mean? You can search the catalog to see if we subscribe to the magazine Sports Illustrated, but you can't search the catalog to find an article within the magazine.

Test Your Understanding: Can you search for the following items in the Library Catalog:

Can you search the catalog for books?

Answer: Yes.

Can you search the catalog for movies?

Answer: Yes.

Can you search the catalog for magazine or journal titles?

Answer: Yes.

Can you search the catalog for magazine or journal articles?

Answer: No.

Getting to the Catalog

To get to the Catalog, start on the library's webpage. Select "Library Catalog" from the menu on the far right.

The library catalog's homepage will appear.

Searching the Catalog: Keyword vs. Subject

There are different ways to search the Catalog. Keyword is the default way (and the one you'll use the most).

What is a “keyword” search? Keyword searching means that the Catalog looks for your search terms somewhere in the Book Record. But what is a Book Record?

The Book Record is a small amount of information about the book stored in the Library Catalog. The Catalog searches this small amount of information because it cannot search the entire book (the book is sitting on the shelf in the library, not in the Catalog).

What's in a Book Record?

What's the difference between a Keyword search in the Catalog and a Subject search?

Keyword searches the entire book record, while subject searches ONLY those few subject terms at the end of the book record.

In addition to using a Keyword or Subject search, you can also search the Catalog by: author, title, series, or periodical title.

Tips for Searching the Catalog

Ok, next we are going to do a few sample searches so that you can get some tips for searching the Catalog.

Let’s look up the role of solar panels in creating energy: Type "solar panels" in the search box, and then click the "Search" button.

We only got 2 results, and they aren't really what we're looking for (one is called Engineering and the other is called How to Build a Solar Heater). Let's try again. To do a new search, you want to click the "Go Back" link on the menu bar above the search box. Note: do not use the browser’s "Back" button … the catalog gets cranky.

Searching "solar panels" may have been too specific, let's try a broader search. Type "solar energy" in the search box, and then click the "Search" button.

We got 36 results for our broader search, and these books about solar energy will probably discuss solar panels in one of their chapters.

So that's tip #1, try broader terms in the Catalog if you’re having trouble.

OK, let's try a different search. Click the "New Search" link in the menu above the search box.

Let's say we are writing a paper on the causes of the American Revolution and we want some books.

Type "Causes of the American Revolution" in the search box, and then click the "Search" button.

You'll get a page that says no matches were found for your search, so click the "Go Back" link on menu bar above the search box to try a different search.

Tip #2: The catalog doesn’t like your search to be a long phrase…like ‘causes of the American Revolution’

Let’s try something shorter. Remember, books are about broad topics so let's type "American Revolution" in the search box, and then click the "Search" button.

We got results this time (84 results), but are they good results? These books don't seem to be about the American Revolution. The first three results are a book called Alternative Energy, a video called America: The Story of Us, and a book called Abortion: Opposing Viewpoints.

Because we did a keyword search, the Catalog found us every book that has the word ‘American’ and the word ‘Revolution’ somewhere in the book record.

Tip #3: The books are not ranked by relevance. They are in date order (most recent first), so you may have to scroll down to see the best results.

If you get to the bottom of the page and still don't see much, remember that search results can have multiple pages. This search has 5 more pages of results you can look through.

Or you can try a different type of search. At the bottom of the page, you can click the drop-down arrow next to "Keyword" to see your options. If you select "Title" from the drop-down options and click the "Search" button again, you can redo your "American Revolution" search as a title search - this will search only the titles of the books, not the whole Book Record.

This is a much more focused search. It returns any book with the word "American" and "Revolution" in the title. It won't catch everything on the American Revolution, but it will get a lot (tip #4, try different types of searches if you’re having trouble). Let’s take a look at one of these books.

Scroll down the results list until you see South Carolina and the American Revolution : A Battlefield History by John W. Gordon. Click on the Title of the book to open the book record. The book record will open

Now what information do you need to actually find the book on the shelf?

The first thing you need is the call number. The call number is a code that is made up of letters and numbers. The call number is labeled in the book record, under the title "Holdings." Here is an example of one: E280.5 S6 G65 2008.

The second thing you need is the location. The location tells you which section of the library the book is in. One example is "Stacks Circulating."

The third thing you need to check is the campus. SCC has several campus, so you want to know which SCC library the book is at (including Cherokee and Tyger River). If, under Holdings, it says the books is at "Spartanburg Community College Library - that means it is at the central campus library. Otherwise, Cherokee or Tyger River will be specified.

Ok, once you know which campus a book is at, you’ll need to write down the call number and location to find the book on the shelf.. Here is an example of what you would write down: Stacks-Circulating E230.5.S6 G67 2002.

Okay, so if we were to go to the shelf in the library to find that book on the American Revolution, you would notice that all the other books around it on the shelf are also about the American Revolution.

That’s because in the SCC Library, we organize books by their subject or topic. The call number on each book represents the book's subject. This way all the books about a topic are shelved together.

Use this to your advantage. If you find one good book in the catalog, go the shelf to try to find other books about the same subject.

Ok, once you have the book, you are ready to check out. Remember, you can check out all materials EXCEPT:

Also, you need a photo ID to check out materials (either your SCC ID card or your Driver’s License)

Ok, here’s the wrap up…

  1. Use a keyword search most of the time, it’s the broadest search.
  2. Books generally cover broad topics, so don’t get too specific with your search.
  3. Use only one or two keywords -- no long phrases (Example - "global warming" is a MUCH better search in the Catalog than "global warming’s effects on the planet")
  4. Once you find a good book, check the shelf around it to find more books on similar topics (since books are shelved by topic/subject).

This is the end of this tutorial.

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