Using Library Research Methods And Catalogs As A Supplement To AED And Book Collecting
It’s a bit like starting with an encyclopedia to find general information. For example, let’s say I wanted to know more about pioneer travel in America. Using the Internet Public Library, I would first try the encyclopedias, which are located under the reference section. From there I choose the Columbia Encyclopedia and plug in the phrase “pioneer.” The result is an article about the Oregon Trail and pioneers in America. But my specific subject, women pioneers, is too specialized for an encyclopedia. From here I would either search the subject directories for an encyclopedia on either American History or Women’s History to find articles specific to women pioneers.
Specialized Databases (Library Catalogs): How To Find and Search Library Catalogs on Your Topic
Okay, so now you have gathered background information on your topic. That means you are more equipped to search library catalogs and the ÆD. But where do you begin? What library catalog? Where? And how?
The one thing to remember about the internet in general is that there is currently no way to search the entire web all at once. There exist databases within databases, so to speak. The information is available, but sometimes it takes a few extra steps to get to the source. The information contained within specific databases, such as Yale University’s library catalog, will not be searchable via search engines or subject directories. But, you will retrieve links to libraries on search engines.
Most databases operate with a closed door. Once you get to the house, then you can open the door and check out the rooms, but you can’t enter the house from a distance. So, you need to “enter” into the library/database first in order to search it. In other words, you can’t expect to look up library catalog records by going to google.
Some web sites are devoted to listing libraries. Libdex, for example, will list all libraries in the world by country, state, and type of library. The Library of Congress also has links to major library catalogs. Libraries fall under the basic categories; academic, government, public, museum and special. When beginning a library catalog search, think big. Start of with a large collection such as the Library of Congress or an academic library, rather than a public library. An excellent academic library catalog is Yale University’s Orbis. This allows you to search not only Yale’s collection, but also several other major libraries at the same time.
Another thing to remember about library catalogs is that they are created to be electronic versions of card catalogs. They are designed to be as user friendly as possible, and most of them operate in the same way. The bells and whistles might vary from library to library, but there will always be the same basics: author, title and subject.