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CHEM 184/284 (Chemical Literature) - Huber - Winter 2024: Lecture 3

A two-credit course in the techniques and tools for effective searching the literature of chemistry, biochemistry, chemical engineering and related fields.

Lecture 3: Catalogs vs. Article Databases vs. Search Engines

Locating Information: The Evolving Paradigms

  • At one time, centuries ago, a well-educated scholar could be expected to be familiar with all the published scholarship in his or her field, to know, and perhaps even own, all the important books in that field, and, perhaps, to know and correspond by letter with all the other important scholars in that field. But as scholarship, especially in the sciences, grew, tools had to be devised to enable a researcher to locate published information held in libraries and elsewhere.
  • Libraries published catalogs of their holdings, first in book form, then, starting in the late 19th century, on index cards filed in cabinets -- the card catalog.
  • Scientific journals started in the 17th century. Eventually, the volume of published literature there required special tools as well. Scholars created bibliographies -- lists of references to published works in a particular subject area in a particular time period. By the mid-19th century, regularly published indexes to the journal literature enabled users to locate published articles by topic or by author.
  • With the growth of digital electronic computing in the 1950's, the then-new electronic database technology began to be applied to library catalogs and scholarly indexes in the 1960's. By the year 2000, electronic catalogs and indexes had almost completely supplanted their print counterparts, and even the journals and other primary publications themselves were moving to electronic media.
  • At the same time, networks of computers were increasingly linked together, growing from the U.S. military-supported ARPAnet into the Internet of today. The use of the Internet as a medium for sharing information really took off with the invention of the protocols underlying the World Wide Web in 1989. As the number of publicly-available Web pages grew into the billions, search engines were devised to allow users to locate the needles of useful information in the giant haystack of the Web.
  • Today, virtually every college student is familiar with searching for information electronically, and, far and away, the most familiar search tool is the web search engine -- most likely Google™. However, powerful as it is, Google™ is not the be-all-and-end-all of scholarly searching. Catalogs and article indexes are still extremely important, and it is useful for the searcher to understand how these tools differ from one another.

Web Search Engines vs. Library Catalogs vs. Article Index Databases vs.Discovery Tools

Characteristic Web Search
Article Index
Discovery Tools
Content Covered Up to billions of web pages.
Pages must be freely accessible or access permitted to search engine by page owner
Note that content can come and go randomly, though pages may be cached.
Collection of a specfic library or group of libraries.
Collection grows steadily; may occasionally shrink.
Collection of documents defined by
subject area and/or chronological period
and/or type of document
Collection of records grows as literature grows; records are never removed from system.
Draws upon the content of multiple separate catalogs and/or databases - with access to tens of millions of records.
Data Indexed

Page title, author-assigned metadata, page headings, possibly full text of page.

Note that "fields" are determined by author-assigned HTML or XML tags.
Indexing is then entirely automated.

Fields in the MARC record, including author, title, publisher, publication date,
assigned (LC) subject headings, possibly table of contents or other description.
Usually done by professional cataloger, but may use data from shared cataloging or publisher-provided information.
Fields are chosen by the indexing database producer.
Most have bibliographic data: author, title, source title, volume, date, pages. May also include abstract, assigned subject headings, or specialized data (e.g., chemical structures)
Some indexing may be automated; subject indexing usually by professionals in the subject area.
Searching is generally limited to those data that are present in all of the sources, i.e. authors, keywords and not much more.
Record Display Usually page title, possibly hit search term in context; link to source web page Brief record: Author, title, publication date
Full record: Above plus publisher, subject headings, notes. May link to online resources when available.

Brief record: Author, title, source title, volume, date, pages
Full record: Above plus abstract, subject headings, specialized data.

May link to online documents when available.

Usually brief record, with link to source database for full record
Record Sorting Relevance; usually related to number of times search term appears in document, but exact algorithm rarely published. For keyword search, usually newest to oldest.
Usually other sorts (e.g. by author name) available.
Usually newest to oldestl or by relevance; other sorts may be available such as author, times cited. Varies depending on the discovery software, but usually by relevance.
Search Features Truncation; May have fielded searching or limits in advanced search. Truncation; searching specific fields; Limits (e.g. by language or publication type) May have refinement features. May allow browsing by title or author. Truncation, proximity searching, specific fields, combining answer sets, specialized data searching (e.g. structure searching Often has refinement or analysis feature) Usually has truncation. Frequently has refinement features, especially by document type and publication year.


General Characteristics of Electronic Catalogs and Bibliographic Databases

Command Line vs. Menu Driven

  • The earliest electronic catalogs and bibliographic databases all required entering a typed command, say, f kw diels-alder, where f, standing for find told the system what function to perform, kw, standing for keyword told it which index to search, and diels-alder is the desired search term.
  • Most catalogs with a Web interface use a more menu-driven approach. That is, the screen displays the options available to you and you select them by pointing and clicking. The only things typed in are the user's search terms. Note that, in most cases, the menu interface taps into a "most commonly used" subset of the command features.
  • Frequently, Web catalogs and databases will offer multiple search screens -- usually a Basic Search, one or mor Advanced Search screens, which offer more options and allow more complex searches, and not infrequently, an "Expert" or other version which is really the command line form of the search system.
  • Generally speaking, command line systems are more powerful and flexible, but have a steeper learning curve, since you have to memorize commands and learn system syntax before you can use the system. Nowadays, command-line systems are still heavily used by professional information searchers who wnt extreme precision in their searches, while scientists and others for whom searching is not a goal in itself, rely on menu-driven systems.

Available Indexes -- What You Can Search

  • Library catalogs in the English-speaking world all use the same basic record format (the MARC format mentioned above). But the individual catalog implementation decides which parts of the record are indexed so that they are searchable.
  • Nearly all catalogs will have some type of author index, a title index and a subject index. Some will have additional indexes. Common added indexes include some sort of keyword index (which searches most fields in the record) and call number indexes.
  • Be aware that not all author or title or subject indexes function the same way. Some search for complete phrases, some for a word or words within the field. Some automatically check for all the possibilities of an author's initials, some don't.
  • Remember that in most library catalogs, the subject search searches assigned Library of Congress subject headings. If you are not sure of your terminology, use keyword (where available) or title word searches first, then check for subject headings.
  • "Browse" vs. "Search" -- Many catalogs allow for browsing of indexes. Rather than retrieving a set of records that match the search, browsing lets the user look at the alphabetized list of items (authors, titles, subject headings, call numbers) starting at a chosen point. You can then select a heading from the list and view the books associated with it. Browsing can be advantageous when dealing with items that may be in a different format than you would assume, such as author names and LC subject headings. Browsing call numbers can serve as a substitute for browsing the book shelves in a particular subject range.
  • Limiting searches -- Some types of information, like language and publication date are rarely searched by themselves, but can be used to limit the results of another search. Check what limits are available and how you can use them.
  • Search histories -- Some systems, but not all, allow you to view previous searches in a given session. This can be handy for retracing your steps.
  • Combining searches -- Some, but not all, allow you to take two or more separate searches and combine them. This adds flexibility in searching.

Speaking of Subject Headings...

  • It is possible to provide subject access to documents by keywords (words used by the author in titles, chapter headings, abstracts and/or full text) only. Some databases use that approach. However, most catalogs and indexes to journal literature use some form of standardized, human-assigned, subject headings. Why?
  • The problem with keywords by themselves is that different authors may use different terms to describe the same concept. For example, one researcher might speak of double optical refraction and another of birefringence, both referring to the same phenomenon. Similarly adrenalin and epinephrine refer to the same compound, and California condor and Gymnogyps californianus to the same bird. If you search for one term, you may miss relevant documents that use the other term.
  • In order to pull related concepts together, indexers have devised standardized subject heading lists. When an indexer using a given system reads a document, the indexer checks the concepts that describe the document against the standard headings, and picks the one(s) that best describe the content of the document.
  • Choosing the right heading can be tricky, though. If I'm indexing a book on "California condors", and I have a choice of using the headings "Gymnogyps californianus" or "New World vultures" or "Birds", which do I use? All are correct, and depending on how general the interests of the potential researcher are, any might be used as a search term. Some systems would have the indexer add search terms for all levels of the concept; others rule that the indexer should use the most specific term that describes the content of the document. Still others organize the subject headings into a thesaurus which shows the relationships among broader, narrower and related terms. Some electronic search systems use a thesaurus to allow the user to automatically search the whole hierarchy of terms for a given subject.
  • But standardized subject headings have their limitations, too. Standard lists always lag behind the terminology of fast-developing fields. And since terminology may change over time, the standard terms themselves are forced to evolve -- older documents may not be indexed the same way as newer documents. Finally, how do you, the researcher, know what the standard subject headings are for your area of interest?? In the old world of printed indexes, you frequently had to consult a printed list of subject headings, or index guide or thesaurus to find the proper terms.
  • In electronic catalogs and article databases, however, you can usually take the expedient of searching first using the terminology you have in hand as a keyword search. Inspect the resulting hits, pick the ones that best match your interests and view their full records in the catalog or index. There, you can see the assigned subject headings that the system used for those "good" documents. If the subject headings match your keywords, you're golden. If not, revise your search to incorporate the subject heading terms as synonyms to increase retrieval. Or, if you're getting too many irrelevant hits with your keywords, search on the subject heading exclusively to tighten the focus of your search.
  • Some web-based catalogs and databases allow you to click on a subject heading and automatically generate a search without having to key in the words.
  • Library catalogs in the United States use a subject heading list generated by the Library of Congress. These headings use subheadings extensively to narrow down broad topics. Note that subject headings in the sciences, especially chemistry, are not always what a chemist would have thought of first. Use the "Search keyword; check subject headings" approach for best results.

Other Search Features

  • Truncation -- Most online catalogs and databases allow some kind of truncation, that is, replacing part of a word with a symbol to search for multiple words with the same root. For example, organo? might search for organochlorine, organohalogen, organometallic, etc. Some systems allow you to truncate single characters, some allow you to truncate internally, e.g. wom!n. A few allow left-hand truncation, such as ?technology for biotechnology, nanotechnology, nanobiotechnology, etc. There is little consistency as to which characters are used for truncation: * # ? ! $ are all used in various systems for various types of truncation.
  • Boolean searching -- Generally speaking, most systems use the operators of Boolean algebra: OR, meaning either "term A" or "term B"; AND meaning both "term A" and "term B" must be present; and NOT meaning "term A" is present, but records with "term B" are excluded. However, not all systems are identical. Be aware of the usage on the system in question. Some systems (notably SciFinder, the most important tool in chemical searching) use natural language searching; that is, you enter the search terms as the same kind of phrases you would use in a normal sentence. However, usually the software is parsing your phrase into Boolean searche and applying truncation and proximity operators behind the scenes without you having to know the rules. This can make such systems easier for novice users, but sometimes frustrating for more experienced users.
  • Proximity -- If you enter multiple terms in a search window, some systems treat them as separate terms, some search them as phrases. Some allow you to specify the relationship of terms with proximity operators. Example: "term A" NEAR5 "term B" meaning that in a record the two terms have to be within five words of each other.
  • Stopwords -- Usually words that are very common and lack subject meaning are not indexed, such as "a", "an", "the", prepositions, etc. In library catalogs, sometimes "a" "an" or "the" at the beginning of titles are omitted.

Display Features

  • Be aware of how the system displays results. Usually there will be some sort of short default record display. Check on how to display full records and how to display holdings, circulation information, etc.
  • Sorting -- What order is a list of records displayed in? Some systems go alphabetically by author or by title; some use reverse chronological order (most recent first.) In an increasing number of cases (including nearly all search engines), the results are listed in relevance order. In these cases, the system uses an algorithm (usually kept confidential) that ranks results according to how "relevant" they are to the search terms you entered. Some systems allow you to choose the sort order. Databases that index cited references (e.g. Web of Science) will frequently allow you to sort ansers by "Times Cited", which can hellp you find key papers on your earch topic.
  • Filtering/Refinement/analysis tools -- Many databases and discovery tools and some catalogs offer options to refine the results of a search after the initial search results are obtained. This is sometimes referred to as faceted searching. By pulling the contents of selected fields from the answer set (authors, document types, subject headings, etc.) and ranking how often they appear in the answer set, they enable you to improve the relevance of your answers (refine them) be selecting the best subsets of that answer set.  Search engines (so far) have no such capability.
  • Marking records -- Can you mark records as you go along to select out a set for viewing or printing/downloading/e-mailing? Can marked records be used as a subset for further refinement?
  • Printing/downloading/e-mailing/sharing -- Some Web interfaces simply use the print/save/send functions of the Web browser; others have special functions to handle these tasks.

Personalization features

  • Many systems allow you to use some sort of password to create or access personalized functions -- such as viewing your circulation records or setting up update searches or search alerts.
  • These features vary widely from one system to another, as does the method for getting or generating a password. Some use on the spot registration, some use ID's like library card numbers.


© 2022 Charles F. Huber

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This work by Charles F. Huber is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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Pecture 3, part II: Locating What's on the Shelves; The Discovery Tools of the UCSB Library

Arrangement of Materials

  • In early libraries (and even today in some "closed stacK libraries), books were put on the shelf in the order received.  Librarians would use an index to find the book number, and retrieve it from the shelves.
  • However, in most modern libraries, the library users can go to the shelves themselves.  To facilitate browsing the shelves, a systemof subject classifications is used to group books on related topics together.
  • Nearly all books and journals in the UCSB Library are arranged using such a subject-oriented call number scheme.
  • The UCSB Library follows the Library of Congress classification system.
    • The first group of letters signifies the broad subject area.
    • The first group of numbers (from 1 to 10,000) signifies the more specific subject area.
    • The subsequent letters and numbers identify the individual book, and are usually based on the author's name and/or book's title. Note that these numbers are treated as if they follow a decimal point, so .F65 falls between .F6 and .F7
  • "Traditional" subject areas are well grouped:
    • QD = chemistry
    • QD 241-449 = organic chemistry
    • QD 380-388 = organic polymer chemistry
    • QD 410-413 = organometallic chemistry
    • QD 415-449 = biological chemistry
  • Other "new" or "interdisciplinary" areas may be more scattered. For example, works containing chemical toxicity information may be found in:
    • GE = environmental science
    • QP = biochemistry & physiology
    • RA includes medical toxicology
    • S includes pesticide toxicology
    • T includes general toxic chemical data
    • TD = environmental engineering
  • See Call Numbers & Floor Plans at for a full listing of the major subject classes and where they are located. plus maps of the various floors of the mainLibrary and Music Library.

Finding Call Numbers: Enter the Catalog

  • Libraries use catalogs to enable location of items by author, title or subject.
  • The original library catalogs were published in book form (you can still find an example of this approach, if you like, in the "National Union Catalog".) The 19th century saw a new innovative technology: the card catalog. More easily updated than the book catalog, it dominated the library world until the 1980's.
  • Eventually, the technology of computerized databases was applied to library catalogs, and a special record format, the MARC (short for MAchine Readable Cataloging) format, was devised for bibliographic records. (An international committee is at work devising a new format, adapted to the more sophisticated formats of relational databases, but nothing has been implemented yet.
  • Library catalogs have evolved considerably in the past few decades. Now most large libraries have integrated library systems which handle the ordering and circulation of books as well as cataloging.
  • At UCSB, we have two library catalogs, both of which are part of discovery tools.

UC Library Search

  • UC Library Search is the new implementation of UCSB Library's catalog, integrated with those of all University of California libraries, which became available in July, 2021.  It incorporates our library holdings, as well as search results from a large number (but not all) of the article databases to which UC subscribes.
  • The main entry point for UC Library Search is the default search window on the UCSB Library home page.
  • Below is an introductory video created by UCSB Library Instruction Coordinator, Becca Greer:

Getting to Know UC Library Search

UC Library Search on the UCSB Library homepage

Search Modes:

Basic Search (the default)

  • Searches UCSB Library holdings in books, audio, video and journal titles, plus journal articles and articles from reference works as listed in UCSB-accessible databases (though not all!)
  • Keyword searching - words from titles, subject headings, author names, some tables of contents, article abstracts.
  • Single window or search terms.  Can use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) and parentheses within the single search string.

Advanced Search

UC Library Search, Advanced Search screen

  • Allows you to selected database to be searched - 
    • "Articles, books and more" - Includes books and other materials, both hardcopy and electronic, from the UC Libraries, plus articles found in a number of indexing databases
    • UCSB Library Catalog - Limits your search to items in the UCSB Library's holdings.
    • UCSB Course Reserves - Restructs search to materials on course reserve at the UCSB Library.
    • UCSB Special Research Collections - Restricts search to materials in the UCSB Librry Special Research Collections
  • You can select which field you wish to search (keyword, title, author, etc.)
  • You can specify that the terms entered are to be searched as an exact phrase, or "begins with" - mainly used for exact title searching.
  • You can create multiple search windows.
  • You can limit by format (book, article audio, etc.), language or date.

Browse Search

UCSB Library Search Browse Search

  • This search is mainly useful for locating known items.  You enter a title or author name (last nam first) or subject heading or call number, and get an alphanumeric list of titles, authors, subjects, call numbers, from which you can select the one you want. Below see an example for an author search for "hawking, s"

UCSB Library Search browse for author example

Journal Search

  • Lets you search for journals (not individual articles) by title keyword or ISSN (International Standard Serial Number), or to browse lists of titles starging with a given number or letter.)

Additional Search Features

  • Basic and advanced search allow you to use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) and parentheses to combine terms. Example: (plasma NOT blood) AND electromagnetic
  • As with many web search engines, you can use quotation marks to specify that terms be searched as an exact phrase. Example: "nuclear magnetic resonance"
  • The asterisk, * , can be used as a truncation symbol, telling the system to look for all words beginning with a string of letters: photo* retrieves photo, photon, photolysis, photography, phtosynthesis, etc.  It can also be used as a wild card symbol within words: wom*n retrieves woman, women, womyn, etc.

Record Display

UC Library Search record list display

  • A basic or advanced search yields a list of brief records like the one shown above.
  • By default the answers are sorted by "relevance" (similar to most Web search engines.)  Note that in the left-hand column, there is a "Sort by" drop-down menu that lets you choose a sort order: Relevance, Date newest, Date-oldest, Author or Title.
  • The short record for an item typically displays the bibliographic information needed to cite the item.  For books: title author(s), place of publication, publisher.  For journal articles: title, authors, journal name, volume, issue, pages, date of publication.
  • If a print book is available at the UCSB Library, its call number will be displayed. If the item is an e-book, you will see an "Access online" link  If the item is not available at UCSB, but may be at other UC libraries, you'll see a "Check availability" note.
  • At the right of the record are several icons.  The push pin icon lets you save that record to a "favorites" list.  When you have marked one or more records, a push pin icon appears at the upper right hand of the screen.  Click on it to view the records you have marked.
  • The envelope icon allows you to e-mail a copy of the record.
  • The quotation mark icon allows you to create a formatted citation for the record, and export it in a variety of ways.  See below.

UCSB Library Search record export menu

  • If the item is available electronically, you will see a link "Online access" (for books) or "Full text available" for journal articles.
  • To check availability, or Requst an item via interlibrary loan, you must log into your library account, using your UCSBnetID and password.

Article and Journal Records

UC Library Search brief recod for an article

  • In addition to the bibliographic information, article records will usually indicate whether or not the article is peer reviewed. See Lecture 7 for a discussion of peer review.
  • If the article is available to us online, there will be an Access online link.
  • Depending on the source of the article, there may also be a direct Download PDF  link. There may also be a view Table of Contents link, which will take you to the table of contents for the journal issue in which the article appears.  For more information, see BrowZine section below.
  • Records for journals will also display the Peer reviewed indicator if applicable, call numbers if the journal is available in print, Access online for available electronic journals, and, in some cases, the View Journal Contents link, which allows you to browse the TOC of the most recent issue (and earlier issues) of the journal via BrowZine.

Book Chapters

  • UC Library Search frequently (but not always) indexes individual chapters of books held at UC libraryies. 
  • Records for book chapters will show the title and authors of the chapter, the title and editors of the book in which it is contained, as well as publisher and date of publication information.  If the book is available online, the Access online link will take you directly to the specific chapter.

Refining Results

  • One of the most important ways that discovery tools (UC Library Search,  and most article databases differ from web search engines like Google is that they offer options for refining your answer set.  This can be crucial when a search retrieves hundreds of thousands of records.
  • Below are example refinement options taken from the nanoparticle* AND environment search shown above.

UC Library Search refine results, part 1UC Library Search refine results, part 2

  • The Refine options include 
    • Sort by: Default option in Relevance; others include Date-newest, Date-oldest, Title, Author.
    • External Search: To find materials outside the UC system, you can go directly to WorldCat or Gooble Scholar
    • Show Only: You can limit your results to Online Resources, Peer-Reviewed Journals (that is, articles from peer-reviewed journals), Open Access (online resources freely available to all) and/or Item in Place (refers to hardcopy books and other non-electronic resources).
    • The following options display only those present in the answer set, in descending order of frequency.
    • Resource Type: Examples include books, articles, conference proceedings, newspaper articles, dissertations, etc.
    • Publication/Creation Date: You can set a starting date and ending date by year.
    • Subject: These are Library of Congress Subject Headings. Note that for large answer sets, the most common headings are usually very broad discipline categories. Click on "See more" to dig down to more specific headings you may wish to use.
    • Creator/Contributor: Includes both individual authors and group authors (such as scholarly societies and other conference organizers.)
    • Language
    • Location: refers to locations within the Library, not locations of publication.
    • New Records: Note that this does not refer to the date of publication, but rather to when the records were added to the database: Last 3 Months, Last Month, or Last Week.
    • UC Libraries: Breaks the reults down by the UC campus at which they are available. Campuses are listed alphabetically, not by order of how many results each holds.
  • Each time you select a Refine option, your current answer set is narrowed to those answers that meet that criterion. Note that you may apply multiple refinement options.  As you apply them, a "Filter" tag appears at the top of the column.  You may remove any filter at any time by clicking the X on the individual tag.

Individual Records

  • Below are sample records for a book and for a journal article. Display the individual records by clicking on a title in the records list.

UC Library Search, full book record, part 1

UC Library Search full book record, part 2

UC Library Search full book record, part 3

UC Library Search full book record, part 4

UC Library Search full book record, part 5

UC Library Search full book record, part 6

UC Library Search full book record, part 7


UC Library Search full article record, part 1

UC Library Search full article record, part 2

UC Library Search, full article record, part 3

UC Library Search, full article record, part 4

UC Library Search, full artilce record, part 5

  • Details (e.g. table of contents, related articles) may vary depending on the type of item, or the data source - different publishers provide different levels of data.)
  • Subjects for books are generally Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). Subject headings for articles vary depending on the source database for the record. In the example sohwn, the source is Medline/PubMed. Note that the subject headings are linked. Clicking on one searches UC Library Search for other records with that heading.
  • Request links for interlibrary loan display only when you have logged into your library acount.
  • Book records will indicate whether or not the book is checked out.  To see details, you must be logged in to your library account.

BrowZine (

BrowZine home page

  • BrowZine is a tool produced by Third Iron Library Technologies, l which the UCSB Library has subscribed to, designed to make keeping up with current publications easy.

  • It provides access to the tables of contents (ToC) of journals to which the UCSB Library subscribes, or which are available open access.

It is integrated with UC Library Search so that you can jump directly from an article or journal record in UC Library Search to  ToC information for that journal.

You can also go directly to BrowZine using the link above, if you are on-campus or using the campus VPN (proxy server access will be forthcoming).

On the BrowZine home page, looking from left to right across the top bar:

My Bookshelf -If you have a personal account on BrowZine (free of charge; see below), you can create a personal "bookshelf" of journlas that you like to browse on a regular basis.

My Articles - Similarly, you can create a collection of specific articles that you wish to refer back to.

BrowZine Support and FAQ - The question mark icon opens a new tab to the BrowZine knowledge base of helpful information.

Download the Mbile Companion for BrowZine - BrowZine offers an app for iOS and Android mobile devices.

User Settings - The gear icon opens the stettings page. Go here to login to your account. If you are creating an account, click on Login, then select Sign up. You need only enter your email address and create a password.

In the main body of the page, you see options for finding a journal. You may search by title or ISSN (International Standard Serial Number)or browse by subject. As you start to type a title into the search box, a list of possible matches will appear to the right. Click on the title of the desired journals to go to its BrowZine listing. Below is a record for the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

BrowZine record for JACS

  • The upper left hand corner displays the title, an image of the journal cover, and a link to add the journal to your Bookshelf.
  • The left-hand manu lists the years and voumes available.
  • The center display gives the volume and issue number shown, followed by the ToC for that issue.
  • Each article has five accompanying icons:
    • Download PDF
    • Link to Article - Opens a new tab with the article on the source (uaually the publisher's) website.Note that clicking on the title of the article in BrowZine accomplishes the same thing.
    • Save to My Articles - Adds the article to your personal collection on browZine.
    • Export Citation - Lets you export the bibliograpic record for the article to any of several bibliographic database tools, such as Zotero and EndNote.
    • Share - Lets you share a link to the article on Twitter, Facebook, LinkeIn or email.

Personalization features

  • To log into your library account, click on the "Sign Ih" or "Guest" link in the upper right-hand corner of the UC  Library Search screen.  UCSB students, staff and faculty can then sign in using their UCSBnedID and password.  Once you have logged in, your name will be displayed in the upper right-hand corner.  If you are using a public terminal, be sure to log out when you are done.
  • Ehen logged in, clicking on your name in the upper right hand corner, gives a drop-down menu of options:

UC Library Search library account menu

  • Library Card lets you check on your loans, requests, fines, feesblocks and other messages.
  • Loans takes you directly to the list ob materials you have checked out, including due dates, and the ability to renew items.
  • Requests takes you directly to a list of your currently requested items, and what their delivery status is.
  • My Favorites. When viewing a record, you may click on the pushpin icon to add the item to your "favorites" list for easy retrieval at a later date.
  • Search History given a list of searches you've conducted in your current search session.
  • When logged in, a "Save Query" link will appear at the top of each results list.  Clicking on it will save a copy of the current search to your account.  Clicking on the push pin icon on the upper right will take you to the My Favorites page, where you can access your saved searches.

UCSB Library Search saved searches list

  • Note the icons at the right of the saved search. You can set up an RSS alert for new records that match your search, set an e-mail alert, or "unpin", i.e. delete the saved search.
  • If you are logged in to your account when searching in UC Library Search, and display the full record of an item, you wil see a Request link. This can be used to put a hold on itmes that are checked out, so that when they are returned, they will be held for you until you chan check them out. Even more important, during the Library closure, you can use Request to order items from the collection for pickup at the Library or delivery by mail. See for more information.

WorldCat Discovery

  • WorldCat is a global network of library-management and user-facing services built upon cooperatively-maintained databases of bibliographic and institutional metadata. Just as tUC Library Search combines the holdings of the UC libraries, so Worldcat combines the holdings of hundreds of libraries worldwide, academic, public and otherwise. The WorldCat database was originally created to allow libraries to share cataloging information and thereby reduce needless duplication of effort. Later, it was turned into a public catalog available by subscription, and still later, made available free of charge worldwide,
  • WorldCat Discovery is a customized version of WorldCat designed to meet the needs of UC users. With it, you can search for items held at UCSB, or the UC Libraries in general, or the entire WorldCat database of libraries around the world.
  • Note that WorldCat Discovery also searches the contents of a wide number (though not all!) of the databases the UC system has access to, in a "federated search".  While a given database's content may be searchable throug the WorldCat Melvyl interface, you probably won't have access to all the search features of the database in its native interface.
  • If you are on-campus, or off-campus but logged inot the proxy server or VPN, the WorldCat Discovery link will recognize your IP address and allow you to use links to our e-books and journals, and to Request features. In order to use the "Get It at UC" feature to check availability in the UC system or make interlibrary loan Requests, you wil need to log into your UC Library ccount.

Searching for Special Types of Materials in the UC Library Search

Special Cases: Conference Papers

  • Conference proceedings can be tricky to locate in library catalogs. Frequently, the only information you have is the name of the conference. Unfortunately, the name of the conference may appear in the title of the book, or as a series title, or as the corporate author of the book.
  • Fortunately, the Keyword search in bUC Library Search allows you to search all of these parts of the record simultaneously, and so is the best approach for a first try at finding the conference. Use the Resource Type refinement option to limit resuts to conference proceedings.
  • See the Conference Papers subject guide at for more details.

Special Cases: Monographic Series

  • Some series are individually catalogued because the volumes vary widely in subject, e.g. ACS Symposium Series
  • If so, the periodical record, if any, may say something like: "see call number for individual volumes". If you know the series name and volume number, that can often be a very efficient way to search for the item.
  • in the UC Library Search,l, use the Keyword search on the series name and volume number Example: acs symposium 400
  • Note that an individual volume in a series may have its own separate record (searchable by author, title, etc.) or it may appear as a volume in the item record of the series as a whole, or both. If a volume which appears both ways is checked out, the circulation information may not appear in both places.

Special Cases: Technical Reports

  • Some are listed in the catalogs, but not many. You will sometimes find them in footnotes, bibliographies or Chemical Abstracts searches.
  • On catalogs, check the long form of the record for report numbers.
  • See the Technical Reports subject guide at for more pointers.

Special Cases: Dissertations

  • UCSB Library owns few non-UCSB dissertations.
  • Most UCSB dissertations are grouped together within broad subject areas e.g. QD 47.5 C2 S25 for chemistry dissertations. Within that group, they are arranged alphabetically by author.
  • To find the dissertations from a given department search dissertations [department name] as a keyword search in UC Library Search. Add the term "ucsb" to limit your search to local dissertations.
  • Of course you can look up individual dissertations by author or title word as you would any other book.
  • Some UCSB dissertations are available in electronic form in the Alexandria Digital Research LibraryOthers are available to UCSB users as free downloadable PDFs in ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (See Lecture 8.)
  • Note that older UCSB dissertations in print in science and engineering are unavailable during the current library shutdown.  If an electronic copy is not available online, use Interlibrary Loan to request a copy.

© 2024 Charles F. Huber

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Screenshots of the UCSB Library Catalog are © 2015 Regents of the University of California and are used here under educational fair use.

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