Finding books using catalogs

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Grossmont Library's web page offers several hyperlinks to useful places.  The one used to locate books (and "non-print" items like video-tapes, audio-cassettes, CD's and DVD's) can be reached by clicking on the Our Library Catalog link.

When you select the Our Library Catalog  link, a new screen opens with a text-entry box waiting for you to enter words you want to find in the Grossmont/Cuyamaca libraries' collections.  The words could be ones you would expect to find in the title of a book or video.  Note: If you type, but nothing appears inside the blank space, it just means you need to use the mouse to move the cursor arrow into the text-entry box and click when the cursor changes to look like a capital letter I.  That tells the computer where you want to put what you are entering from the keyboard.

Our Library Catalog assumes you want to search by "key words," but you can select other choices from the pull-down menu, for example, author, title, subject.  You would usually start with the default  and maybe come back later to try the other options after you've seen a few results.  The Library pick list defaults to ALL, but you can select either Cuyamaca or Grossmont if you want to limit the results to just one library.  "Advanced Search" opens up a whole new screen with lots of possibilities.  You can explore that when you're feeling especially curious.

If several records that contain the word(s) you entered are found,  you will be shown a list of "Brief" bibliographic records in what we call "reverse chronological" order.  That means the NEWEST item will appear at the top of the list.  The "Brief" record gives you six facts about the item found to match your search term(s).  These six facts are:

  1. The CALL NUMBER used as an address to locate the item
  2. The YEAR in which the item was published (or produced).
  3. The TITLE of the book or video (or another format)
  4. The AUTHOR (This could be a person or a company)
  5. Which LIBRARY owns the item (Grossmont or Cuyamaca)  and
  6. The current LOCATION of the item (such as STACKS or MEDIA-DESK)

If Our Library Catalog finds only one item that matches your search term(s), it will display the "Detailed" record which will have other information such as the place of publication, publisher, number of pages, whether there are illustrations, even the height of a book in centimeters.  You're probably thinking "Who cares how tall a book is?" but since our shelves (in the "STACKS") are set a standard distance apart, books that are too tall (or wide) to sit on standard shelving are put into our OVERSIZE collection.  This would be given as the "location."   If you select the "Keep" button for one or more records, and then scroll back to the top and select "Kept" from the catalog's bar of commands, you'll have the options of Viewing, Printing or Emailing the records you marked.  It's a great way of making a "shopping list" of books and videos you want to look at the next time you're in the building.

Image of speaker to indicate sound file  To listen to this podcast episode, part 2,
the speaker icon.

If you would like to borrow a book that is owned by Cuyamaca, we have an interlibrary loan (ILL) agreement with them that allows an employee of ours (called a "courier") to bring that book from their campus to ours for you to borrow. When you are on campus, the Reference Desk can supply you with paper forms to request an item through Interlibrary Loan.  When you are doing your research from off-campus, it's more efficient to fill out an on-line interlibrary loan form and submit it to our ILL staff electronically--like an email.

There are several choices across the top of the Our Library Catalog's screen like "Go Back" and "New Search" for further maneuvering.  We hope you'll explore some of these choices and become familiar with the way Our Library Catalog lets you control what you do next.

After you've found a record that looks interesting (based on the title or other details you see), be sure to scroll down to see what "Subject" links were added to it.  Clicking on a subject hyperlink will create a new results display of everything in our catalog's database that was given that same subject heading.  The new list will be in reverse chronological order, so you may find a newer item covering that same topic.  Sometimes you get an "error" message that tells you

No other items on this topic

You can just click on the "OK" to get back to the record you were viewing when you selected the subject hyperlink.  You can also explore the  SDSU Library Catalog (included in "Other Library Catalogs" (the next link below "Our Library Catalog") if you go back to our Library's web page) and use their Public Access Catalog (PAC) to see if there is a book on your topic available at San Diego State University. The PAC is similar to our library catalog because it helps you locate books based on their authors, titles, or subjects; but it is different enough that you may need to read some of its "Help" screens to use it efficiently. The most important bit of information (for a Grossmont student) about a book at SDSU is its "Status" since that needs to indicate "Not checked out" for our ILL courier to be able to retrieve that book and bring it back to the Grossmont Circulation Desk for you to be able to borrow it.

One special feature of Our Library Catalog--mentioned briefly before--is the "Keep" button--in a box in the left margin--when you're viewing Search Results details.  Clicking on "Keep" causes the button label to change to "Remove" but it also marks that record so that when you click on "Kept" (in the blue toolbar of command choices) you'll be able to print or email the records KEPT in that session.  The default is BRIEF, but you can select FULL to include the abstract, contents, and subject headings.  The ALL option is really more than you need, but you're welcome to explore that, too, if you're especially curious.

You may be motivated to explore some of the other options available in the bar of choices, like "Limit Search" just to see if these features look like they might be useful to you.  Remember that the librarian on duty at the Reference Desk will be glad to help you find things to satisfy your information needs.  That's right!  Ask a Librarian.

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