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How to Use the Library

Learn to use the library’s resources.

The Catalog

Finding Your Resources

The catalog is the primary means for finding books, articles, and other resources in the library system.

Our catalog not only organizes the books on the shelves but also consolidates information on eBooks, electronic journals, and select open-access sources from the internet.

Read this page, and then take the quiz to test your knowledge.

Video Tutorial

The Catalog Search Box

Finding the Catalog

The navigation bar at the top of the screen has a button labeled Catalog.

Selecting it will open a dropdown menu with several options:

  • Typing in the search bar and selecting the search icon will instantly search the catalog.

  • Go to the Catalog will take you to the catalog itself, where you will see its built-in search function.

  • Advanced Search will give you more options and allow you to craft a more exact search.

  • Log into My WorldCat Account will allow you to see what you have checked out and to renew your items.

Catalog search bar.
The search bar as it appears in the catalog.

Search Tips

Remember these tips while searching the catalog:

  • You can find a variety of resources.

    The catalog is not just for books but also journals, articles, DVDs, and other sources. You can limit results by type using the options in the left sidebar.

  • Use keywords.

    The catalog isn’t designed to accept full sentences like an internet search engine.

    Instead of:

    A research article about quantum physics


    quantum physics.

  • Brainstorm synonyms.

    Your initial keywords may be insufficient. Search for college as well as university or adolescent as well as teenager.

  • Move from broad to narrow.

    If you start with broad keywords, you can winnow out extra resources after your initial search. The catalog’s left sidebar (described below) allows you to limit results.

  • Boolean operators.

    The operators and, or, and not allow you to include or exclude multiple search terms. Be sure to type them in all caps.

  • Searching isn’t an exact science.

    No search will find you all of or only the resources you want. If one search doesn’t work, rethink your strategy and try again.

  • Look for subject headings.

    Subject headings (described below) will help you find resources on your topic.

How to Use the Catalog

Let’s use an example scenario.

Suppose you want a book on the legendary folk hero, John Henry.

  1. Type John Henry into the search box. This returns several results, some about the folk hero but others by or about real people named John Henry. Others just have either John or Henry somewhere in their descriptions. For example, one result is John Randolph by Henry Adams.

    Screenshot of catalog showing search results for John Henry.
    Results of a search for John Henry.
  2. Remove irrelevant entries by putting "John Henry" in quotation marks. Now the catalog treats the name as a single term rather than as two terms. This cuts about four fifths of the results.

    Screenshot of search for John Henry in quotation marks.
    More specific terms produce more relevant results.
  3. Several results are not about John Henry the folk hero but John Henry Newman, a Catholic thinker from the nineteenth century. To further remove extraneous entries, add not Newman to the search. Put not in all caps to tell the catalog this term is a Boolean operator.

    Results of search for John Henry with Newman removed.
    Excluding terms removes irrelevant sources.
  4. This is enough to get what we want, but to focus exclusively on John Henry, select the title of a book about him, such as John Henry, an American Legend.

    Record details for book John Henry, an American Legend.
    See additional information on a work by selecting the title.
  5. The details about the book include a tab labeled Description. Select this label to see more information.

    Description details from the record for John Henry, an American Legend.
    The description usually includes a summary and keywords.
  6. Under Subjects are Library of Congress Subject Headings. These officially recognized, prescribed labels can categorize books or other resources. The subject headings are hyperlinked, so selecting one retrieves all entries in the catalog with that heading. One is Henry, John (Legendary character).

    Results of a subject search for John Henry.
    Subject searching will retrieve all works under the subject heading.
  7. The results of a subject search should all be relevant. Sources unrelated to John Henry are eliminated.

This returns five results including eBooks and print books. These results may not be exhaustive, so we may need broader searches if these results are unsatisfactory.

Subject Searching

We can refine a search further. Our catalog is connected to libraries all over the world, so we can see not only our collection but many others as well.

Limit to books in our collection by selecting Northwestern Oklahoma State University Library Services and Book from the sidebar.

Refined search for John Henry in local books.
Limiters can narrow search results.

Interlibrary Loan

Ordering Items from Another Library

Now let’s suppose that we want a book that isn’t in the collection at NWOSU.

As an example, let’s say we want the book Ain’t Nothing but a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry by the historian Scott Reynolds Nelson.

  1. We’ll begin by looking at the book’s record in the catalog. Just as we did above, we can open its details.

    Screenshot showing details of a book not in the local collection
  2. As you can see, when we look at the book’s details, we have the option to Request Item. Selecting this option will open a form to make an interlibrary loan request. Simply fill out the form as completely as possible, and your request will be processed. Typically, loaned books arrive within two weeks. Be sure to use your complete NWOSU email address when filling out the form.

    Example interlibrary loan request form
  3. If for any reason you cannot order a book or other resource through the catalog, you can use the ILL request form available on the Interlibrary Loan Page. This page can be found in the main research guide, Welcome to Library Services. You can also get to the form directly from the library’s homepage by selecting the link marked Interlibrary Loan. Once again, be sure to use your complete NWOSU email address on the form.

    Screenshot of interlibrary loan button on main library page

Ordering Items from Our Library

If you are on a satellite campus or if you are a distance learner, you can order items from the J. W. Martin Library in a fashion similar to the one you would use for items from another library.

  1. Under the item’s description, you will see a button labeled Request NWOSU-owned item.

    Screenshot of catalog item with order button emphasized
  2. If you are not already logged into the system, clicking this button will bring up a log-in screen. You will need to log in with your student ID number and password. If you haven't yet created an account with WorldCat, you will have to create one at this time. Fill out the form completely to receive the item, using your complete NWOSU email address.

    If you are on or near a satellite campus of NWOSU in Enid or Woodward, or if you are in Ponca City, a courier will deliver the item to the campus in one to two business days. It will be available at the front desk. You should pick up your items at a campus if possible, as you will receive them more quickly and save on shipping costs (because you won’t have to send them back through the mail).

    Screenshot of order form

    If you cannot retrieve the items at a campus, you can have them mailed to your address. Simply enter your address in the box labeled Item description(s)/Notes. It will be your responsibility to mail the items back in good condition before the due date.

    Screenshot of notes box on order form