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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

History 200: Nationalism in Theory and History

Catalogs

What is a Library Catalog?

When researching in a library, especially a research library, its catalog is probably the most important tool you will use, and one with which you should familiarize yourself as quickly as possible. Even if you think you have never used the Library Catalog here, you probably have and just do not realize it, since "Easy Search", the Library's federated search engine, sends all queries to the Library Catalog along with several other online research tools.

A library catalog is a database of records that identify and describe resources owned by the library. Most of these records describe published resources like books. Use the catalog to find both print sources and digitized sources in the Library's collections.

Many research libraries today dress their catalogs up with fancy interfaces, making the catalogs appear to have far greater functionality than they actually do. You will be a much better user of library catalogs if you understand the purpose and functions of library catalogs, which are in fact very basic:

  1. The catalog should be an efficient instrument for ascertaining:
    • Whether the library owns a particular work specified by its title;
    • Whether the library owns a particular work specified by its author;
    • Which works by a particular author are in the library;
    • Which editions of a particular work are in the library.*
  2. The catalog should collocate records for works on a common subject under a single, standardized heading.

Digitization of library catalogs has made it possible to perform keyword searches on the records in the catalog. Aside from this innovation, and a few other conveniences, the library catalogs of today are essentially identical (in function) to library catalogs created a hundred years ago.

* According to the International Federation of Library Associations, Statement of Principles: Adopted at the International Conference on Cataloguing Principles, Paris, October 1961, ed. Eva Verona, Definitive ed. (London: International Federation of Library Associations Committee on Cataloguing, 1971), xiii.

Searching by subject

Subject headings are metadata (also called controlled vocabulary) terms found in every entry in the library catalog. A human being has studied the item and decided which of these pre-agreed-on terms best describe it. Subject headings are often the most efficient way of finding items on a specific topic. Use the Advanced Search to search by subject headings. Here are some relevant subject headings for this course:

  • Nationalism
  • Nationalism Germany
  • Nationalism Germany History
  • Nationalism Germany 20th Century
  • etc....for example, Nationalism [name of country or ethnic group]

 

Digitized Book Collections

The Library has several large digitized book collections. Many of the books in these collections can be discovered by searching in the Library Catalog, but each collection also has its own search interface. Below are some of the digitized book collections most useful for this course:

Interlibrary Loan

At some point in your research, you will likely identify a book that the Library does not own, and that is not available through I-Share. You can have the Library borrow a copy of the book or journal article from a library that does own it. Because these are loans between libraries (our library borrows it on your behalf from another library), this service is called interlibrary loan. To initiate an interlibrary loann, you will use a tool called Illiad: