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Information Literacy: 09. Library Catalogs

Strategies used to incorporate research skills for the College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Management.

What are Library Catalogs?

A library catalog is a database containing a record for each item the library owns.  This includes all the books in the library, as well as videos, journal subscription records, sound recordings, e-books, links to selected web pages, etc. 

The main purposes of a catalog are to enable a person to identify an item, bring similar items together in the results, identify where an item is located, and in many cases help obtain a copy of an item from another library if a local copy is not available. Books and materials on your topic can be found by performing searches for words in subjects or titles in the library catalog records.

Most catalogs are for a single library or institution.  These are called local catalogs because they only cover what items are available locally.  Regional catalogs encompass the holdings of several institutional libraries within a given proximity of each other.  The widest ranging catalogs are called global catalogs which incorporate the holdings of libraries from multiple nations.  OCLC's WorldCat is a great example of a global catalog.

As of 2013, Willamette University switched from a local catalog to a regional catalog and it is shared by 37 other academic libraries throughout Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

Willamette's Catalog

Willamette University shares a regional catalog system with 37 academic libraries in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.  We no longer have a local catalog.  It is the main way to search for books within our library, as well as the millions of other items including videos, CDs, journals, e-books, etc.

Click here to begin searching Willamette's catalog.

While our catalog covers a huge selection of journal articles, it is usually more efficient to use library databases to search for journal articles. Click here to access Willamette's article databases.


  • Find out if Willamette Libraries have an item
  • Find out if Willamette Libraries subscribe to a particular magazine or journal
  • Find out if Willamette Libraries item is checked out or available
  • Find the location and call number for libraries materials



Our catalog also has many useful features that will help you be a more efficient researcher.  Below are just a few of the features you could use, such as limiting to materials within Willamette's collection, peer-reviewed journal articles, and full-text availability.  Sort your results by relevance, publication date, popularity, author, and title. 

In the top right corner, you can view any materials you have selected in your virtual "e-Shelf." View items you currently have checked out under "My Account," and view any saved search queues so you can quickly rerun them.   

my account


On the left side are many ways to limit or even expand your results.  The "Expand My Results" incorporates many additional databases and external resources that are not necessarily available through Willamette or Summit; these resources are still available through interlibrary loan.  The "Show Only" features are the same as the options directly above the results.  Results can also be limited by resource (material) type, subject, author/creator, collection, specific publication date ranges, language, Library of Congress call number, journal title, and more.


When you click on a title, the availability of the item is indicated.  If an item is available, it will provide the details for getting a copy of an item, such as the call number for books or how to access an article.  If an item is not available, you should be provided an option to request the item through Summit or interlibrary loan. 

library location of a book with its call number and location in the library


You can also obtain a permanent link to an item or the citation info under the "Send to" area. 

Permalink and citation options within the library catalog.




You might find that resources provided by your library can be really helpful, and you can access many of these resources online through your library's website. 

Don't forget that our librarians are excellent resources!