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Racer Library Tutorial - SOC 359 and POL 359

Finding Books & Media

At the library, you will find two main types of materials, physical materials like books and electronic materials like ebooks. So let’s first look at how to find physical materials at the library.

One type of database that all libraries have is an online catalog, which is a collection of information about the items owned by a particular library. A catalog record displays information that is pertinent to one item, which could be a book, a journal, a government document, or a video or audio recording. A library catalog allows users to search by author, title,  subject, ISBN, publisher, and call number.

At the Murray State Waterfield Library, books are shelved according to the Library of Congress (LC) Classification system. The call number for each book, which is used to find the book on the shelf, is developed based on this system. The call number begins with the subject/topic area of the item that is represented by letters of the alphabet and then numbers to provide a more specialized grouping in the topic area.  So the books on the shelf with the book you are looking for will be on that same topic.

The search box in the middle of the homepage provides access to the library catalog and the majority of everything that Murray State Libraries has access to. So by searching this box, you will retrieve results on your topic for print and electronic resources. Search results can be filtered to just what is physically available at the library as well as what is available full-text online. The main search box should be used when you want to search for physical items or eBooks. You should use the databases, which we will discuss further in an upcoming video, for a more specialized search for journal articles.

So let’s search the catalog to see what happens. We start at the main search box on the Library Homepage labeled “Search Library Resources.”

The first step in searching for books and media is to select the "Books and Media" tab for the search box. Then in the box, type your search terms. For example, the following will show a search for information about and by Mark Twain.

The results show that 678 books and media items were found either by or about Mark Twain, available online or in the library. To narrow the results to what is physically in the library, select "Available in the Library" on the left side of the screen.

Now the results are limited to the 355 items in the physical collection. To learn more about an item, click on the title.


You can also search the collection using the advanced search function.  This will allow you to search by author, title, subject, and keyword, use Boolean techniques and narrow the search by material type, language, and publication date.

Advanced Search

If you didn't find an item that you were looking for in the catalog, don't fret. WorldCat is a tool that you can use to see if other libraries own the material. WorldCat should not be used to find articles that the library doesn't have access to. There is a better way to do accomplish that which will be covered in a future video. As the name implies, WorldCat is a library catalog of libraries from around the world. You can locate the link to WorldCat in the Quick Access menu as shown.

Locating WorldCat

After clicking on the link for WorldCat, you will be prompted to login with your MyGate username and password. Once you have logged in, you will see the following search interface within WorldCat.

WorldCat Search

On this page you can limit your search results to only include items from a certain date range, language, or material type (remember that WorldCat is not the recommended way to find articles).

You can also search by things such as keyword (this is the default), author, and title using the drop down boxes located to the right of the three search boxes.

The following example shows a search for "social media" without changing the drop down from keyword and without using any of the limiters on the page.

WorldCat Results

Once a search is performed, you can choose to limit to the material type (books, visual, sound, scores, etc.) at the top of the results list. The results list will provide you with items that are located at Murray State and at other libraries. Items owned by Murray State Libraries will have MURRAY STATE UNIV highlighted in greed located under the title in the record. If you decide that you would like to use one of these items, you will need to copy and paste the title in the "Search Our Collections" box on the libraries website and search for the item to find the call number

If you would like to utilize one of the items that we do not own, first you will need to click on the title of the item. Next you will need to locate the get it @MSU  button on that page as shown below.

WorldCat Detailed Record

After clicking on the get it @MSU button, you will be brought to our Interlibrary Loan System.

What is Interlibrary Loan?

Interlibrary Loan is a means by which Murray State University Libraries can borrow materials that we do not own from other libraries for you to use. The vast majority of the time, this can be done for you free of charge. In general, we estimate that physical items that must be sent through the mail (i.e., books, CDs, DVDs, and musical scores) take 2-3 weeks to receive. If you are a distance education student that cannot come to Murray State's Main Campus to pick up an item, contact your subject librarian or the information desk for other possible options of acquiring the materials. Articles are generally sent electronically so your location shouldn't be an issue. Borrowing articles (which will be covered in sections below) takes 2-3 days. Keep these general borrowing times in mind in relation to the due date of your research paper and the amount of time that it will take for you to thoroughly review the material.

Ordering an Interlibrary Loan Item

After clicking on the Get it @MSU,you will need to login using your MyGate Credentials. You will then come to the order from. If you clicked to order the book or other item through WorldCat, the order form will be completed for you, and you just need to click submit.

Interlibrary Loan Request Page

All items that have been ordered will appear on the next screen. Once the physical item has arrived at the library, you will receive an email with pick up instructions.