In this interactive tutorial, you will be introduced to the Consortium Library catalog, the tool used to find books, ebooks, videos, and other materials available locally.

What You Will Learn

Upon completing this tutorial, you will be able to:

  • Locate the catalog on the Consortium Library website.
  • Conduct effective searches in the catalog.
  • Identify parts of a catalog record.
  • Modify searches using limits.


Use the arrows below to navigate through the tutorial (you may need to scroll down to see them) or click the Contents button in the top right of this frame to skip to contents buttonany section. As you proceed you will be asked to interact with the website displayed to the right. Click on underlined words or phrases to view additional information. At the end of the guide, you may print or email a certificate of completion.

Looking for an accessible version?

Additional help

Locating the Catalog

On the Consortium Library homepage to the right:

1. Click Library Catalog in the Find Books & Articles box

You are now in the catalog!

A Shared Catalog

The Consortium Library shares a catalog with numerous other libraries in Alaska.

Which of the following libraries is NOT in our shared catalog? (Hint: The libraries are listed on the main catalog page on the left side.)

The shared catalog allows you access to many more items than are available at any one library. Regardless of how far away they may be, most books and other materials can be sent to your local library for you to check out. However, this only works if you have time to wait for the item to come via a courier or through the mail. Always pay close attention to an item's location before placing a hold on it. (You'll learn a little more about placing holds later in this Guide.)

Catalog Search: Keyword

Let's search the catalog for books on video games and any relationship they may have to violence in children.

1. Enter these keywords in the single search bar near the top of the page: video games violence

catalog search bar

2. Click Search.

How many results did this search yield?

Catalog Records

1 of 3

You now see a list of records that contain these keywords. A record is the information posted in the catalog about the item (book, DVD, etc.). It is not the item itself.

Take a look at the brief records listed on your search results page.

Image of a brief record in the catalog

The brief record shows you the title, author, publication year, material type of each item. It may also display a book cover, part of the abstract/summary (if one is included for the book), and other information.

The location and call number information is also available, though you may have to click a link to bring up the information. Here are some of the ways it may appear at the bottom of the brief record:

Example 1 of how the call number and location information may appear.

Example 2 of how the call number and location information may appear.

Example 3 of how the call number and location information may appear.

Did you get lost?

Catalog Records

2 of 3

Full Records

Clicking on the title of an item on this list will show you a full record with even more information about the item.

Go ahead and click on a title or two to explore the full records.

When you are done, use the back button on your web browser to return to the search results list.

Did you get lost?

Catalog Records

3 of 3


Let's take a look at some options you have for next actions.

On the right side of each record you will see four linked actions.

catalog actions

Learn more about each linked action here:

Place Hold

Send Email

Send Text


Applying Limits

Let's apply some limits to our search to improve the relevancy of our results. On the left side of the screen, you will see your options for limiting this search, including format (material type), subject, date, and library. If you want to add a single limit, simply click on the linked limit name. If selecting multiple limits, use check boxes.

Let's say you are in the Consortium Library right now and you either need a book you can take with you now or an eBook you can view on your laptop.

1. Scroll down until you see the Format limit option. Check the boxes next to Book and Electronic Resource.

2. Click Include. What's with the Exclude option?

3. Under the Library limit, click UAA/APU Consortium. The limit will be applied instantly (no need to click Include).

Always be sure your limits were correctly applied by reviewing the "Narrowed by" box to the left. You should see the following:

narrowed by these limits

Now how many results do you have?

Did you get lost?

Modify Search Terms

Locate and click on the title, Media Violence (2009), to see the detailed record.

You will notice that "video games" doesn't appear in the title, subject terms, or abstract, and yet this is one of the best results we found. Take a look in the table of contents listing. (Shortcut?) Chapter 1 sections 3 and 4 appear to present opposite perspectives on the relationship between violence and video games. What a great source!

This result may inspire us to run our search again using the broader term "media" instead of "video games."

If you aren't having much success with a search, try brainstorming or exploring records for different search terms to use.


While we are in this record, (Lost?) let's take a quick look at a neat trick for Subject Terms.

If you click on a subject term, the catalog creates an entirely new search for it. Let's try it.

Click on the linked Subject Term Violence in popular culture.

You can see that the Subject Term replaced what we previously had in the search box and our results contain other items that share the same Subject Term. This is especially handy if you find the perfect Subject for your topic.

Advanced Searching

You may find that you have a more complicated search need. The advanced search option may be more helpful for you than the single search box we used before.

Click on the Advanced Search link to the right of the search bar.

Image showing the location of the Advanced Search link.

To see what the catalog does with each of the top three lines, do the following:

1. In the All these words box, enter: violence media

2. In This exact phrase box, enter: video games

3. In These unwanted terms box, enter: news

Demonstration of where to put each of the words.

4. Click Advanced Search to execute the search.

Take a moment to see how your search results are similar to yet different from before.

Additonal Search Options

A discussion of searching the catalog wouldn't be complete without pointing out the two drop-down menus to the left of the search bar.

Image of the drop-down menus

In the All Collections drop-down menu, you can select which libraries or regions you wish to search.

In the All Fields drop-down menu, you can select specific fields to search. You are likely to only ever use the title, author, and subject options.

Take a moment to click into each menu to see what's there.

Note About eBooks

eBooks in the catalog can be confusing so let's take a quick minute to discuss them.

Typically call number and location information will appear at the end of brief and detailed records. This will appear for physical items like books, DVDs, etc.

Image showing what the call number and location information looks like.

For eBooks, this is replaced by the phrase "Online access" followed by a linked message about who has access to that particular eBook.

Image showing what things look like for eBook records.

As you are aware, you can request most print books to be sent to you from another library in our catalog system. Unfortunately, eBooks are more restricted. You can only access an eBook in the catalog if your library has purchased access. For example, the eBook shown above is only available for users affiliated with University of Alaska Southeast, Alaska State Library, or Juneau Public Library -- UAA/APU Consortium Library isn't on the list!

So there's no way for me to get this book as a UAA student??

If you do have access to the eBook, simply click on the access link that corresponds to your affiliation. You may be asked to log in before you are directed to the full text of the book.


Please enter your name and email address to retrieve a copy of your completed quiz.

You can enter multiple email addresses separated by commas with no spaces. If you are doing this for a class, you may need to enter your instructor's email address also.