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Research Skills Tutorial

Module 3: Finding Books and Other Items with the Library Catalog

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Know the types of information sources to be found in a library catalog (book, periodical, audio-visual material, government publication, online materials).
  • Use the Lumen Library Catalog to identify books and other materials in the Regis University Library.
  • Understand the difference between keyword and title searches in Lumen.
  • Understand the use of subject headings.
  • Perform searches successfully in other catalogs (i.e., Prospector and WorldCat) to identify and order books.
  • Use interlibrary loan service, as appropriate.

Library Catalog Definition

A library catalog is a listing of the materials owned by an individual library, and offers you a variety of ways to search for items. These include the ability to search by the item's author or editor, by title, or by words describing the item's contents.

The physical format of the library catalog has changed dramatically over time. Catalogs of earlier eras took the forms of hand-written lists, card files, bound volumes and even microfiche. Library catalogs today, including Regis University's Lumen, are online databases and are usually available on the Web.


Searching the Lumen Library Catalog

The Lumen Library Catalog lists the books, periodicals (not individual articles), and audio-visual materials owned by the Dayton Memorial Library. Online books collections available through the library are also linked to the catalog for easy access. Since Regis University participates in the Federal Depository Library program, Lumen also includes the U.S. federal government publications that Regis receives through that program. To find magazine, journal and newspaper articles, see Module 4. Methods for identifying materials owned by other libraries will be discussed later in this module.

The three types of searches used most often in Lumen are Keyword, Author, and Title. Other types of searches include Journal Title and Subject.

  • A Keyword search finds items with the word or words you entered. A powerful search, these words may appear in the item's title, subject headings, or table of contents. The words in a multi-word search may or may not appear together; they may be found in different parts of the item's record. The Boolean operator "and" is implied between the words in a Keyword search query in Lumen.
  • An Author search identifies items in the library catalog by a person, an organization, or a governmental body.
  • A Title search lets you look for a specific item. A Title search in Lumen is essentially a phrase search; the words entered as a Title search must start with the first word of the title (skipping "a", "an" and "the") and have all subsequent words in exact order. Entering the entire title is optional - you can stop after typing the first few words.
  • A Journal Title in Lumen works like a regular Title search, but is restricted to journals - no books are included in your results. Enter as much or as little of the title as you wish.
  • A Subject search finds special terms often used by librarians to describe items in a library catalog. Each item is assigned one or more subject headings. Regis, like most academic libraries, uses the Library of Congress Subject Headings to describe our items. When you do a subject search, what you actually get is a list of subject headings with the number of matches for each heading listed next to it. Like a title search, this search is a phrase search, so you have to enter the exact wording. Once you find a subject heading that looks right, click on the subject heading to get a list of all items with that subject heading.

Refining Search Results

When using the Keyword search option, you may run into three problems: too many results, too few results, or results that aren't quite right. Here's how to solve these problems:

Too many results!

Add another word or two and search again. It's better to add one at a time, or you may end up with the next problem...

Too few results!

A couple of options, depending on the problem:

  • The library simply may not own many items on your topic. In this case, either shift the focus of your topic, or search other library catalogs (like Prospector) to find more books on the topic.
  • Your search may be too narrow. There are two ways to fix this one:

    • if you searched for multiple words, or if you entered your entire topic without first selecting the best keywords (like "role of women in 20th century German politics"), look at your search words and select the most important ones for your next search (like "women politics Germany")
  • your search terms may be too specific - use a broader term and try to find titles that may still address your topic in a chapter or section - instead of "Denver", try "Colorado"
  • You picked different words than what the catalog uses to describe the item. One of the reasons we use subject headings is to prevent having to list every possible word for a topic. You could look up the subject heading, or try different words as a new keyword search. Also, you can click on the subject heading link in your results to find all other items with the same subject heading.

I have a lot of results, but they're not on my topic!

When you do a keyword search with multiple words, you run the risk of finding titles that have all your words, but don't use them in the way you intended. For example, you might search for "business model" and find books that discuss how a young actor gets in the "business" by starting as a "model."

To fix this, it's back to the subject headings. The solution of finding one good match, looking at subject headings that describe the item, and doing a new search with those words will make your results more precise.


Expanding Search Results

Whenever you see a link in a record, it's an opportunity to expand your search. Clicking on the author's name will retrieve all the items by this author. Because items are shelved according to subject, a good way to see what else might be of interest is to click on the call number. This will bring up a list of neighboring items so you can see what's near the title without having to go to the shelves.

What's a Call Number?
The Call Number, along with the location, tells you where to find an item in the library. Regis uses the Library of Congress classification system to arrange our books, videos, and other materials. For government publications, we use the SuDoc (Superintendent of Documents) classification system and keep those materials in a separate area. If you're having trouble locating something in the library, just ask a staff member for assistance.

Another way to expand your search is to send it to the Prospector Catalog. On your search results screen, you'll see a button that says "Check other Libraries." If you click on this, it will repeat your search in Prospector to find even more items. This feature is very useful for finding titles that aren't owned by Regis. For more tips on searching Prospector, read on!


Searching the Prospector Catalog

While you may be able to find everything you need for some research projects at Regis, other projects may require you to look farther afield. To make that easier, Regis is part of the Prospector system. Prospector is a joint catalog for a group of academic and public libraries in Colorado and lets you look for items at all participating libraries with a single search. Lumen and Prospector are based on the same library catalog system, so searching Prospector is just like searching Lumen.

Here's what makes Prospector really valuable: if you find something you want, whether it's available at Regis or another library, you can request it directly from Prospector with just your name and Regis ID number. The item will be sent to any Regis campus location in Colorado. Most items arrive within three to five days. If you are unable to pick up books at a Regis campus, you can still use Prospector to identify books and then request them using the Interlibrary Loan request system. See below for more information on interlibrary loan services.


Searching the WorldCat Database

For large projects that require comprehensive, exhaustive research, you should consider the WorldCat database as a source. WorldCat (think "the world's library catalog") contains more than 52 million records describing items owned by libraries worldwide. Regis is part of WorldCat, so you'll be told if Regis owns something listed in WorldCat. If Regis doesn't own it, you can request it through interlibrary loan.


Using Interlibrary Loan Services

If you've found something that's not available through the Regis libraries or through Prospector, you can request it from another library using the interlibrary loan (or ILL) system. Here's how it works:

  • You find out about a book or other item that's not available in Lumen or Prospector.
  • You go to the library's home page, select Interlibrary Loan from the Library Quick Links menu, and enter your RegisNET username and password to enter the system.
  • The first time you use Interlibrary Loan, you'll be asked to fill out a personal profile. This will be stored for as long as you're affiliated with Regis, so you only have to fill this out once.
  • Next, you tell the system what you want to request (e.g., book, article, etc.) and fill in the information about the item you want, such as author and title.
  • After submitting the request, you can continue to make additional requests or just log off the system.
  • You'll be contacted when the item you want is available for use (normally in five to eleven working days).

That's it! You may use books for a certain length of time (usually four weeks), then must return them to a Regis campus location so that they can then be sent back to the other library. Articles are normally reproduced so that you don't have to return them, but you'll learn about that in Module 4: Finding Periodical Articles.

Other uses for Interlibrary Loan:

  • Distance students and faculty can use Interlibrary Loan to have books and other items found in Lumen and Prospector sent to a convenient location, such as a nearby Regis campus or their home address.

For more information on interlibrary loan services, including how distance students and faculty can also use these services to request materials owned by Regis, visit Interlibrary Loan Services.