Library catalogues are searchable collections of records referring to books and many other resources.
Many university libraries also offer a “federated search tool” which combines the search results form a number of tools. QUT’s Quick Find is an example.
- brings together results from the catalogue, many databases and QUT ePrints
- contains no unique records: it simply provides a unified gateway to many resources
- is good for quick searches, especially when you know the item you’re looking for
- is good for general searches, when you are beginning a new topic search
If you are looking for a certain type of information - for example a standard, or if you’re researching in a particular discipline, for example, life sciences, you will achieve better results if you select a database specific to your purpose.
Tips for searching library catalogues
Tip #1 Be broader with your search terms in a library catalogue than in a database or Internet search tool
For example: Chardonnay is a type of grape used for making white wine. In a library catalogue, a search for chardonnay would return few, if any, results. You would get more results from a search for wine or grapes.
It is unlikely that a whole book has been dedicated entirely to chardonnay. It is more likely that a book has been dedicated to wine, with a section on chardonnay. Use the index or table of contents within a book to check.
Tip #2 Use subject headings
Most library catalogues, including QUT, assign Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) to the material in their collections. You’ll recall from 2.3.1 Keyword or subject searching? that the easiest way to find subject headings while searching is to identify a relevant record in your results and look at the subject headings in that record. Subject headings are often not expressed in natural language so it is best not to guess.
For example: LCSH uses body temperature regulation in place of thermoregulation.
Tips for searching Quick Find
As a federated search tool, Quick Find will return many more results than a standard library catalogue. If you’re having trouble seeing the item you’re looking for consider the following.
Tip #1 Use limits
Use the limiting options on the left hand side of the screen. Useful options include “content type”, “subject terms” and “publication date”. These were demonstrated in the video subject searching.
Tip #2 Double check known items
Remember if you’re finding a known item, for example your textbook or a journal article from a reference, double check your search by starting in the catalogue rather than Quick Find.
Using other libraries
If a book or periodical article is not available at QUT library, eligible staff and students can request it from another library using the Document Delivery service. You can also join or search other libraries.