Using catalogs

Users (and most of us) donít understand cataloging. Thatís OK. But the more you understand how your catalog is constructed, but more effective searcher you will be.

Searching is a complex process and involved trial and failure, negotiation between the patron, staff member, and catalog system. Factors that affect a given search include the type of cataloging records being searched, the size and nature of the collection, the design of the automated system, and the userís knowledge.

Users donít know how library catalogs are organized, and shouldnít have to! While we provide bibliographic instruction and training, we canít expect patrons to have the same level of knowledge that we have with our experience using the catalog every day. But users are the ONLY judges as to whether the search made by them or for them found what they wanted and needed. Thatís why the follow-up question in the reference interview is so critically important.

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This page was updated on October 25, 2003.