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Finding Books: Searching the Library Catalog

This guide will show you how to find books in the library catalog.

Finding Books

This guide will provide you with the basic steps for finding the books and other items you need in the Barbour Library catalog, and for retrieving them from the library shelves.  If you need additional assistance, don't hesitate to ask for help at the reference or circulation desks. 

How to Search

Finding a book in the Barbour Library collection starts with the catalog search page as shown below:

The catalog search box defaults to a basic keyword search, but this can be changed to a variety of search fields:

Here is a brief description of the various search categories:

Title:  Type in the full or partial title of a work to retrieve it.  Searching for a series title will retrieve works in that series.  You can also use title search to find a title within a collection, like the title of an essay within an anthology.

Author:  Enter the name of the author last name first ("Barth, Karl") to retrieve works by that author.  You can also use author search to find works by a group ("Society of Biblical Literature" or "United States Congress").

Subject:  You can use this search to find a list of books by subject.  The Barbour Library collection uses Library of Congress (LC)subject headings.  Most of the time the subject headings are simple and intuitive ("pastoral care", "Buddhism", etc.) but sometimes you will need to figure out the appropriate LC wording to find what you want.  If you are looking for books on the book of Luke, for example, the subject would be "Bible.  Luke".  Persons can also be searched for as subjects, using the same last name first order shown in the author search above.

Journal Title:  Just like the title search above, except that search results are exclusively from our periodical collection.

Print Call Number:  A call number is a unique combination of letters and numbers that is used to identify a specific work.  For example, the Library of Congress call number for our most recent edition of Walter Bruggeman's The Prophetic Imagination is BS1198.B84 2001.  If you already have a book's call number, you can use this search to quickly determine whether or not it is in the Barbour Library collection and if so, where it is located.

Non-print Call Number:  Like the call number search above, but for other materials such as DVDs and CDs.

Keyword:  Keyword search is the catalog's default search setting.  Keyword searches for the words select in every field of an item's catalog entry (title, author, etc.) so it has a tendency to return a high volume of results. 

Course Reserves:  This convenient feature will help you find all of the books on reserve for a particular course.  You can search by the course number or the professor's last name.

Refining Your Search

Once you have selected your search category and entered your search words, you will receive a list of results. Different search strategies will produce results of varying appearance and organization.  For example, a keyword search for "Judaism" will produce results that look like this:

In contrast, the subject search results for "Judaism" look like this:

The keyword search produces a large quantity (4,000+) of results to be sorted through, while the subject search provides a list of subjects that include the word "Judaism."  Each subject has its own list of entries.  "Judaism -- 20th Century," for example, has 47.  If there is only one entry within that subject heading, some information about that title will also be provided.

In both searches many titles were retrieved.  Many times in these cases it is advantageous to start a new search, using a different search category or more specific search terms.  If that course of action is not desirable or not possible, then there are options within the catalog for sorting and limiting your search.

The sort function looks like this:

Sort gives you the option to change the order in which your search results are presented.  It defaults to System Sorted, but that can be changed to an alphabetical sorting by title or author, or in chronological order through year (earliest book published first) or reverse year (most recent book published first). 

For more options for reducing the number of search results, click on the limit/sort box.  You will be taken to a page that looks like this: 

The empty boxes next to "From" and "to" are for inputting a date range, such as 2000 to 2010.  One "ANY" box allows you to pick a specific material, like books or DVDs, while the other "ANY" box allows you to select a specific language.  In both columns, you can hold down the Ctrl (or Cmd) key and mouse click to select multiple options from the column.  Finally, the two bottom boxes can be used for additional search words, which the catalog will look for in the fields that you select; choosing from subject, title, author, and publisher.



Interlibrary Loan and Reference Librarian

Mark Russell's picture
Mark Russell
Barbour Library
616 N. Highland Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
(412) 924-1393