Using the Catalog

The Library's online catalog is your first stop to locate books, movies, music, and other individual items from both the reference and circulating collections.

In addition to the catalog itself, there are two added features:

Library Thing - an external site that lets you build your own library collection and see added information, and
My Discoveries - where you can create tags and ratings, personal lists as well as write reviews

The Catalog includes more than 300,000 items.  The records represent collections acquired locally and nationally, and in a variety of formats including:

  • Printed materials
  • Music scores and sheet music
  • Microforms
  • Archival and manuscript materials
  • Musical and non-musical sound recordings
  • Video and film
  • Photographs
  • Prints
  • Cartographic materials
  • Software and databases

The catalog:

- describes what the library owns
- tells you

     - where the items are
    - if the title is available or checked out
- if checked out, lets you put your name on a waiting list by clicking on Place Hold
- if titles you checked out are coming due, lets you renew them yourself in My Account

Our online catalog offers unique features:

More ways to search, including keyword searches, the ability to limit and focus a search through the Refine feature, and the ability to view, expand, and/or focus your search using the Discover feature

My Discoveries, a new and feature packed way for you to create lists of items. This replaces the former "My Lists" feature in "My Account".  "My Lists" will remain available six months from the last use of the list, but can no longer be modified. Instead create a "My Discoveries" account, recreate your lists, and take advantage of features that were not available in "My Lists" such as creating user tags, giving ratings and writing reviews.

Library Thing, which enables you to join a global community of book lovers and to share your opinions about what you've read

How Do I Search the Catalog?

Search Basics

search box

This is the simplest way to search. Enter a word or words in to the box.  Sometimes the results are broader than you want or there are too many to be useful.

If you search for “dog” you will find

  • thousands of items about dogs
  • items with the word “dog” in the title, such as the DVD of “Hotel for Dogs”
  • items with “dog” as part of the author or artist’s name, such as music recorded by Three Dog Night

If you search for "decks" you might find:

  • a book called "Fences, Decks, and Other Backyard Projects"
  • a videocassette called "Basic Decks Construction and Finishing"
  • a book called "The Intruders" with the subject "aircraft carriers - flight decks"

If you search for "Hillary Clinton" you might find:

  • a book called "Living History," of which she is the author
  • a biography called "Hillary Clinton, the Inside Story"

If you want a complete list of a particular format, type the following in to the search box:

  • format:book
  • format:DVD
  • format:VHS
  • format:audiobook
  • format:music
  • format:computergame
  • format:e-resource (can limit by sound recording for downloadable audiobooks)

Tips for Good Results

To get the best results from your search, follow these tips:

  • Abbreviations - be sure and include periods, for example, R.E.M. or Party in the U.S.A.
  • Use words that are meaningful and not common.
  • For example, if you wanted to find out about the history of missions in San Francisco, a keyword search using "history" will find far too many matches .
    • "California history missions" is more focused but will include information of missions outside of San Francisco.
      "Mission San Francisco" will find the right results.
  • Omit words like "the," "and," "for," or "of"
  • Don't use long sentences; one-, two-, or three-word searches are best

So now that you have your results, the next step is to -

Refine Your Search

One of the nicest features about the catalog is that you can narrow or 'refine' your results list in so many different ways. On the left are ways you can refine a search for "cats".

TIP: If you see 'more' at the bottom of a list, you can click on it to get the complete list of choices, sorted by number of matching titles.

You can refine by:
boxBranch - don't forget you can Place a Hold if the title is at another branch!

boxFormat - some of our most popular titles are in audio format
boxAudience - find titles for kids, teens or adults
boxYear - of publication
boxTopical Subject
boxPersonal Subject
boxGeographical Subject
boxChronological Subject
boxGenre Subject - for example, mysteries
boxLanguage - for example, Spanish
boxUser Tags - learn more about how to create user tags in My Discoveries









Use the Word Cloud


"Discover" refers to the word cloud located in the left pane of the screen. It is a starburst of suggestions which are associated with the word(s) that you've searched.  You can see the search term in the middle of the cloud, in this example "mercury".

Many words have different meanings in different contexts. If you search for “mercury”, do you want to find items about the planet, the Roman god, the space program, or the car? The Discover Word Cloud helps you browse among related terms for the different meanings of the search word(s).

Red words are somehow associated with the term you entered. Mercury is the car model, made by "ford", and manuals for the car use "repair" and"chilton". The space program uses the terms "mission", "control" and "project". The planet is often paired with "venus", and so on.

Green words have the same definition as your search term.

Purple words are other possible versions of the word, often changing from single to plural.

Once you click on one of these words, on the next page, you will see your previous search term appear in the word cloud in blue. This 'breadcrumb' allows you to retrace your path in the cloud.





The Result List

The result list shows you the format (book, audiobook, dvd),

and lets you connect to:

the full record information by clicking on the title, or

all of the titles by this author, or

all of the titles in the subject area by clicking on one of the subject links.

The result list is sorted by relevance, but you can also sort by:

boxyear (for most recent titles first),
boxtitle (for an alphabetical list of titles),
boxauthor (for an alphabetical list of authors).

Learn more about save in My Discoveries.



The Full Record

At the top of the screen are navigation tools to let you return to the result list, or to go to the previous and next record in the result list.

You can find which library or libraries own a copy, and where it is shelved, as well as availabilty.

If the title is in a different library, or Checked Out or On Order, you can click on Place Hold and fill in your barcode and pin number, then select where you would like to pick up the copy when it becomes available. After you place the hold, click on return

Many titles also include summaries and reviews to help you find just the right title to fit your needs.

Find out about Library Thing and Save or Tag in My Discoveries.

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