Discovering Library Resources using the Online Catalog

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BPCC Library Online Catalog

The BPCC Library Online Catalog is an Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) and is your gateway to discovering resources that are available physically through the library. Through the online catalog, you can search for books (nonfiction, fiction, short stories, biographies), DVDs (entertainment and educational), audio books, journals, magazines, newspapers and even electronic books available to read right on your computer screen. The catalog is useful for discovering what types of resources are available for your use, what specific areas and topics the library covers and where to locate your chosen materials physically on the shelf. The catalog will give you all the information you need to uncover what a particular title is about, where that title is and where to find it.

But before we can go into the library and find everything you need for your assignments, we need to access the online catalog.

Accessing the Online Catalog

The BPCC Library Online Catalog can be accessed in two ways from the Library Homepage. Once you have opened the Library Homepage, the access to the catalog can be performed one of two ways:

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Both points of access will lead you to the same place: the eLibrary. The eLibrary is our virtual interface for the cataloged materials held by BPCC library. These include both physical and electronic materials. On the right hand side of the screen, you will notice options directly beneath the "search" button on the Online Catalog section, these links show you the various types of other searches you can perform that limit your results to just DVDs or just EBooks. Entering a basic search term or phrase in the "Search For:" box will search all words that occur over all item types. This is a very basic, broad search but is useful in getting you acquainted with the system.

So let's take a look inside the catalog by clicking on the BPCC Online Catalog link at the top of the left-hand navigation bar.

eLibrary

Here is the interface for the eLibrary, an index of all the title records held at Bossier Parish Community College. This is the screen you will see when searching for books, movies and journals in the BPCC library collection from your home computer or one here on campus.

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A title record refers to a title of a book, magazine, DVD, eBook or any other resource we have available. It is the basic point of access for a library resource. Each title record may contain anywhere from one to several hundred items or copies. These records only contain information about the titles in question. The record will give insight into what a title is about, how many items or copies are associated with the title and where to locate. The record does not contain the contents of the title but will give you as much information in regards to the topics a title covers at it can.

In order to assist you in your ability to find quality resources in the library, each record is broken into fields to make searching more accurate and to make discovering resources easier. To access these fields you can select the drop down menu next to the search box on both the BPCC Library Homepage and the eLibrary page.

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Each of the selections searches a different field:

"words or phrase"

"author"

"title"

"subject"

"series"

"periodical title"

 

Starting with a "words or phrase" Search

"Words or phrase" searches every field available in the record, including but not limited to all of the ones available in the list. This option is great for broader searches and getting an idea of all resources available on your chosen word. There is a catch to this search method, however; sometimes keyword searches can be overly broad. So if you are interested in researching various cultures and societies throughout the world, a search for a single term such as "culture" will yield many results, not all of which will be on topic.

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Located at the top of the page, you will see how many results your particular search term retrieves. This is true of whether you use words or phrase, author, title, subject or any of the other search fields. You'll notice right away that the search for the word "culture" has produced 27 pages of results with a total of 526 titles to search through. This is because the system is searching the entirety of the record for instances of that single term. It is searching the information that is in the subject field, title field, author field and even fields that aren't specifically searchable such as various notes like the summary. As a result, you will get books that deal with culture or certain cultures, but you will also get results such as this:

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The very first result is for the 2012 motion picture remake of Footloose. Why does Footloose show up in a search for culture?

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You can also get results on cultivating bacteria in a petri dish or musical albums by the Culture Club. Despite these results, you will get resources dealing with other cultures, cultural time periods, "high culture," cultural movements, cultural regions, cultural strife, etc. While all of these may contain necessary information, 526 titles is more than anyone would really care to sift through with a deadline looming. Luckily, the online catalog contains tools built into the search to help you eliminate these off topic results.

 

Moving from Broad to Specific

While the system will initially return all those items that contain any trace of the word "culture," it will also recognize the broadness of such searchs and offer suggestions to refine or rephrase your search. These are the following options for the search "culture" that you have. These options are located directly on the search results page on the right hand side.

You can search those 526 titles for more specific categories.

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Or you can select and entirely new search from a list of suggestion that might fit your topic more closely.

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These tools are extremely useful because they reflect the language the database uses to organize information. These are what we call subject terms.

Identifying Subject Terms for Use

Each of those terms located in the "You Found Titles in Categories" and "Try these too..." menus are hyperlinked meaning you can click directly on them and bring up a new results list. The links in "You Found Titles in Categories" menu will bring up those items within the initial 526 that fit that criteria while the links in the "Try these too..." menu will produce a wholly new list of titles that may or may not contain overlap. Each of these terms is a broad subject term. Subject terms are what we in the library use to organize information. The more subject terms you use, the more specific your search results will be. The subject is the general or specific topic that a certain resource, be it a book, movie or article, falls under. For instance, if you were interested in watching a movie from our collection, a keyword search for "movie" will bring up books about movies more than watchable movies, but a subject search for "feature films" will bring back a list of just movies that can be checked out from our collection.

So how do we know that the term "feature films" is the one we should use? Well, we can find all that information by looking for clues within the database. The first place is the aforementioned menus, however, you may also access subject terms by looking within the records for any particular time. For instance, if in your initial keyword search for culture, you found a book that would be perfect for your topic. This book is a great launching point to discover all those other books that are on the same topic by using the subject terms.

Once you have found a single title, the record will give you all the information you need on where to find the resource in our physical collection (shelf location) or in our electronic collection (URL) as well as other books on the same topic.

So let's try to whittle down our results using the tools within the database. The category "Human Geography" looks promising in the "You Found Titles in Categories" menu, so we can click directly on that link. The following search results are a result of that "Human Geography" topic within the context of the keyword search for "culture." Confusing, a note at the top of the page will keep you informed of where you are within the search results.

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Now we have 2 titles out of our initial 526. While this may appear to be too few, we can identify at least one of these titles as appropriate for our topic. Environments and people may contain information that can inform our research and, as such, we can explore the record to find out more information about this book: where it is located, whether it is checked out, what topics the books covers and maybe even a summary or contents note. This will give you some idea of what the contents of the book are or what it is about without having to go physically search for it. Only if you feel it is appropriate do you need to access the actual book.

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If you click on the tab at the top of the record that says "catalog record" you can access the subject terms that can lead you directly to more information on your topic.

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Each method you choose to use will bring up different results, so it will be necessary to perform multiple searches. For instance, clicking on "Culture." will bring back those titles that have "Culture." as an exact subject term. So if a title has "Culture diffusion" instead of just "Culture.", it will be excluded from the results.

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But a subject search for the same exact term will bring back more results.

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The reason for this is a keyword versus exact search. If you click on "Advanced Search" under the initial search you will get more search options. In any field you can put exact words in to find just those words, or use keywords to find phrases that contain those words, even in a subject search.

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In the "match on" drop down menu, you can match your terms exactly or by keywords or even by a specific order of words. You can also string together search terms. Entering a different search term in any of those search boxes will include it in the search. However, if you put too many terms there is a good chance you will not bring back any results.

 

Title and Author Searches

You may want to go about searching for items in the BPCC Library Collection by looking for specific instances of a word or phrase in a title or, if you know a particular author who writes on your topic, you can search just those fields. Just select "Author" or "Title" before searching for your words or phrase.

There is also what we call a known item search, when you know a book exists and you are just checking the library to see if we have it or just trying to find it again, using the title and author searches will eliminate a lot of that scrolling and weeding that you would have to do with a keyword search. So, I wonder if we have an encyclopedia that deals specifically with culture.

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That's a pretty good place to start.

 

Further Assistance

For further assistance you can:

Visit the Reference Desk in the BPCC Library during hours of normal operation.

Call the Library at 678-6275 or the reference desk at 678-6423.

Email the reference librarian at refdesk@bpcc.edu or contact your subject librarian directly.