Library catalogs in this country are used for a variety of research needs but they break down into three main categories:
There are a variety of other possible uses such as quickly finding the dates of birth and death on an author or identifying publication information.
To search most efficiently you will want to use what librarians refer to as a catalog utility and you know as WorldCat. Most scholars have used this system. It is essentially a massive, digital, union catalog, that is a catalog of the holdings of many, many libraries.
Two facts to keep in mind when searching WorldCat:
1. It DOES NOT include the holdings of all libraries.
2. In many cases, it does not include all the holdings of the libraries that contribute records.
The latter point takes just a short explanation. Many libraries created very brief catalog records for their holdings when online catalogs first became available. Because of the cost of upgrading these records, adding all the holdings has been a very, very slow process. Therefore, you will not necessarily find all the holdings of libraries, such as the Library of Congress or UIUC, on WorldCat.
When you turn to the library catalogs of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union you will find that the construction of these catalogs broadens the possible uses. Many of them contain citations to articles. They can be used to help you build a comprehensive bibliography on a topic.
While looking at these library catalogs, do not overlook the resources at the library website as a whole. The libraries of Eastern Europe have some of the richest bibliographic materials you will find anywhere for literature, as well as many other fields. How these resources manifest themselves varies from country to country and library to library. For example, the Jagiellonian University library in Krakow has wonderful lists of links to online resources that are invaluable for tracking new online bibliographies and full text resources in literature, history, etc. The National Library of Russia has a similar system of links organized by subject that can guide you to many of the new full text materials in Russian. This library also has numerous specialized catalogs such as their scanned card catalog and their digital verson of the "Svodnyi Katalog" of 18th century Russian publications.
This section will introduce some information on the online catalog at UIUC and highlight information on the catalogs and websites of some of the Slavic libraries of the region that might be useful for your research.