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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Improve Your Research Strategies: 1. Library Catalog

Learn to think like a librarian! This guide is an introduction (or a refresher) to using the library to find books and journal articles.

Finding Books

The library catalog contains records for the 13 million volumes held in all of the University's departmental libraries. It includes:

  • books
  • journals and magazines
  • music recordings and DVDs
  • electronic resources
  • maps
  • and more!

You can use it to locate items and have items sent between libraries for you to pick up.  You can also renew books, keep track of items you have checked out, and tag items.

Below is a step-by-step guide to the library catalog.

1. First, go to the library homepage,, and click on "Catalogs." You will see a drop-down menu. From the menu, select the top choice, "Library Catalog."

Homepage, highlight around "Library Catalog"


2. Next, type in the word that you want to use to do your search, such as "Tolstoy" for the author Leo Tolstoy. Limit the search by Keyword, Title, Author, Subject, or ISBN/ISSN. In the box below, "author" is selected.

"Tolstoy" in search box and "Author" selected

3. Next, take a look at the results. There are over 1,000 results. We need to narrow the search. Look at the options listed in the right column. Those are called "facets." Under the heading "Author," click on "Tolstoy, Leo." Note: if you click on "more..." at the bottom of the list, you will see that there are many other authors.

Catalog search page, highlight on "Search Results" and "Tolstoy, Leo"

4. There are still over 900 results. Next, click on "Russian literature" under the heading "Topic," then "English" under the heading "Language."

Catalog search results for "Tolstoy"

5. Select the Death of Ivan Ilyich from the list. Notice first that it is available, and the location is the Oak Street Facility. (That means you have to request the book, and it will take about a day to arrive at the library you choose to be your pick-up location.) 

Catalog search results for "Tolstoy"

6. What you see next is the catalog record. Note of the location of the item. This item is at the Oak Street Facility. Normally, if you were planning to retrieve the book from, say, the Main Stacks, you would need to write down the call number. In this case, you just need to click on "Request Item" and choose your pick-up location. Always be sure to make sure it says the item is available before you hunt for it!

Highlighting "Request Item" link

7. Now, to request the item, first click on the "Request Item" tab. (See above.) Then you need to login to your library (VuFind) account. If you don't already have an account, you will need to create one.

Highlighting login page

8. See the next box (below) for instructions on how to create a library account.

Creating a Library Account

In order to request books through the VuFind catalog, you need to create an account. You only need to do this once, and after the initial setup you will log in with a username and password in order to request books. You must have an account to request books through I-share, a consortium of other academic libraries in Illinois.  You can also use the account to renew books, keep track of requests, tag books, and keep lists of favorites.

To create an account:

  • From the My Account page, click on Create an Account.
  • Fill out the form. Note that the Barcode ID is the "Library" number on your i-card. It is 14 digits and starts with the numbers 2011.
  • Be sure to select "University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign" at the bottom of the form.

Highlighting how to create an account

Once you have created an account, you will see the following menu in the right column. This is what you will see every time you login to your account:

Library account, highlighting "Favorites"

Classic vs. VuFind

The library has two versions of our library catalog. Though the interface is different, and each has different search features, the content is the same. You will find the same books, journals, electronic book, videos and so on in both versions of the catalog.

Some of the key differences are that VuFind is easier to use to make requests from other I-Share libraries, and you can also personalize VuFind by creating an account and marking favorites and tagging items. Features available in the Classic Catalog that are NOT in VuFind are searching by call number, and limiting your search to specific departmental Libraries.

If you are not sure which catalog you are using, take a look at the images below.


The VuFind search screen 

VU Find search screen


The VuFind results screen

VU Find results screen


The Classic Catalog search screen

Classic Catalog search screen



The Classic results screen

Classic Catalog results screen



Hands on Activity

  1. After viewing this page, start at the Library Homepage
  2. Navigate to the Library Catalog and set up a library account.
  3. Locate one item and request it through the library catalog.