Module 4

Searching the Library Catalog

This module covers how to search for information in the Library Catalog.

When you complete this module, you will be able to:

- determine what databases to use to find the most relevant information depending on your research.
- search the Library Catalog.
- locate sources found in the Library Catalog in the PSC Library.
- identify a Library of Congress call number.
- access and use eBooks available at the PSC Library.
- request items in the Catalog.


Selecting the right database or databases to search will make finding information for your research more efficient and less frustrating.

When you are determining what database to use, look at the game plan you created in Module 2. Knowing what information you need and what types of sources you need to find will direct you to what databases to use.

Library Catalog - Use to find physical items such as books and DVDs as well as eBooks in the PSC Library collection. You will also find what print periodicals are available in the Library.

Library Databases - Use to find articles in journals, magazines, newspapers, and other types of periodicals. You can also find eBooks, video and audio clips, images, and transcripts depending on the database.

Search Engines - Find information on the open web. Could be available for free or require payment for access.

Library databases will be explained in Module 5, and search engines in Module 6.

On the Library's website, there are several ways you can locate the library catalog and databases.

Quick Search - Search library databases, the library catalog, and other resources in one search. Use the limiters to focus your search to full-text articles, journals, and/or only catalog items.

Articles - Search only library databases for articles. Use limiters to focus search to only full-text articles and/or journals.

Books & eBooks - Search the library catalog including books at Chadron State College and Wayne State College.

Journals - Search for journals, magazines, and newspapers. Use to find the full text article when you have a citation or when you need to read an article in a specific source (e.g. Wall Street Journal).

Research Guides - Find research guides to various subjects that list databases for articles, books, and more. Great place to start when you don't know where to begin.

Find Articles (Databases) - Links to individual databases for articles, books, eBooks, and more.

PrepStep - Tutorials to enhance math, science, English, computer, and college skills. Practice tests and eBooks for occupational exams (e.g. Praxis) and grad school entrance exams (e.g. GRE, MCAT).

The Library Catalog identifies items in Peru State College, Wayne State College, and Chadron State College libraries and will point you to their location with call numbers or direct online links.

The online catalog has a record for each of the items that the libraries own. These include, but not limited to, books, eBooks, DVDs, archival materials, kits, and more.

You won't find individual articles in the Library Catalog. Those are in Library Databases, which we will talk about in Module 5.

The Library Catalog has the four most common search fields: keyword, subject, title, and author.

You can use either the basic search option or the advanced search option.

Basic Search is a simple search that has only one search field. It is a good place to start when you want a general idea of what information is available. It also works well when searching for a specific title or author.

Use when you:
- are doing a preliminary search and need ideas for additional search terms.
- want to see what information is available in the library on a broad topic.

Advanced Search allows more complex searches with a variety of search fields used at once. Also gives you limiters such as only retrieving records for Peru State College items, material types such as books and eBooks, and date range if you want information published during a certain time period.

Use when you:
- need to combine two or more concepts.
- need items of a particular material type.
- want only items available at PSC.

See Module 3 for Search Strategies.

With advance search, you may link more than one concept together using different search fields and Boolean Logic. You can also use limiters to focus your search.

Screenshot of the Advanced Search

Once you have searched, you will need to read the records you retrieved to decide which, if any, sources provide information to answer your research question and if you need to adjust your search strategy to find more relevant sources.

Results list will show the titles as hyperlinks to open the record for more information as well as a chart with the location of the item, call number, and status (if it is checked out or not).

Results List

The record of an item will provide additional information such as subject terms. For an eBook, it will give you the link to open the eBook.

Record for an eBook

To locate a physical item in the Library, you will need the:

1. College & Location: Identifies the college library that holds the item, and indicates the collection in the library that it's located.

2. Call Number: Helps you to locate the item on the shelf. They will be explained further in the next tab.

3. Status: Tells you if the item is available for checkout.

Here is an example.

location information in a record

1. College & Location: PSC DVD - Main Floor and WSC Digital Video IRC
You would want to find the PSC DVD on the Main Floor, not the WSC Digital Video because that's Wayne State College's DVD.

2. Call Number: PN1997.2 .S38 1999
The shelf location of the DVD.

3. Status: Available
It is on the shelf. If it was checked out, the due date (when it should be returned) of the item would be listed.

So what are call numbers?

All items in the PSC Library (or any library for that matter) have a call number. The call numbers organize the items into subjects and help you to locate items in the library.

In the PSC Library, the call numbers are on the spine of the item or on its front cover in the top left corner.

The majority of the items in the PSC Library use call numbers following the Library of Congress (LC) Classification system.

The juvenile and young adult books on the Curriculum Level use the Dewey Decimal Classification system, which most school and public libraries use.

We will only explain LC since it may be unfamiliar to you.

With LC, each call number begins with a letter or letters that corresponds with a subject. For example, materials about education have call numbers that begin with "L."

 The second line is a number that narrows the subject further into a more specific topic.

The third and possibly fourth lines are Cutter numbers that start with a letter followed by numbers. These lines may represent the author's last name, the title of the item, and/or another level of focusing the subject more.

The last line, if given, is the year when the item was published or released.

Research Tip

It may be quicker to browse the library collection rather than searching the Library Catalog to locate items.

When you locate an item that is great for your research, look at the items surrounding it. Since the Library groups items into subjects, similar items on your topic will be next to each other. You may find another source without additional searches in the Catalog.

You may find and access eBooks through the Library Catalog or from the eBooks webpage.

The Library has two eBook collections, ProQuest eBook Central and EBSCOhost Academic eBook Collection.

ProQuest eBook Central - You may read online or download the eBook. Within the online platform, you can save eBooks to your own bookshelf, take notes, and highlight passages. Your login is the same as your myPSC login information.

EBSCOhost Academic eBook Collection - You may read online and, depending on the title, download the eBook. Before you download, you will need to create a free account with EBSCOhost. The Library will have no access to your EBSCOhost account information if you happen to forget it.

How to Create an EBSCOhost Account

Before you download eBooks, you will need to install free Adobe Digital Editions to your device.

Remember eBooks are similar to print books in a library in regards that if someone is using the eBook or has downloaded it, it won't be available until it is no longer being used or after the due date when it is automatically returned.

When you find an item owned by the PSC Library that is checked out or you find an item owned by Chadron State College or Wayne State College, you may request the item in the Library Catalog.

A request on a PSC Library item means you are placed on a hold list for it. When the item is returned, the Library will contact the next person in line for it to come and check it out within the next 3 days. If the item isn't picked up within that time frame, the person will be removed from the list and the next person in line will be notified.

You can request PSC Library items as long as they aren't available on the shelf (you will need to locate them in the Library if they are available), reserve items, reference books, and journals/magazines.

A request for a Chadron State College or Wayne State College item means that the respective library will mail the item to Peru for you to pick up and check out. Again the Library will notify you when it arrives. If you haven't heard from the Library in 7 days, please contact us so we may ask the respective library about the status of the request.

Note: The other college libraries may not circulate some items such as DVDs. Your access to their items depends on their policies.

So how do you request items in the Library Catalog?

First, you need to register your PSC student ID with the Library at the Front Desk. Once we enter your information into the library system, your ID will be your library card.

Then, when you are searching the Catalog and find an item, check the location to see what college library owns it. If PSC owns it, look at the status to see if it is checked out.

If owned by CSC or WSC or checked out, click on the "Request" button. See the below image with the "Request" button outlined in red.

screenshot of catalog with request option highlighted

Log in to the Catalog using your full name (first and last name) and your NUID as your password.

You will receive a request verification telling you how soon the item will be available (e.g. immediately, 14 days). Click the submit button.

Then, you will be asked to select from which library you wish to request the item. If only available at one library, that library will already be selected. If available at more than one library, choose PSC first. Click the submit button, and your request will be sent to the selected library.

You have completed Module 4. You should now be able to do the following:

green check markdetermine what databases to use to find the most relevant information depending on your research.

green check markrecognize all the sources indexed in the Library Catalog.

green check marksearch the Library Catalog.

green check markuse limiters in the Library Catalog.

green check marklocate sources found in the Library Catalog in the PSC Library.

green check markidentify a Library of Congress call number.

green check markaccess and use eBooks available at the PSC Library.

green check markrequest items in the Catalog.

You are ready for Module 5 - Searching Library Databases.