That was then. Today, library catalogs are almost all web-based programs called Online Public Access Catalogs, or OPAC's. They allow patrons to do things they never could have done with a card catalog, like searching the catalog from home, and reserving and renewing books online. They also allow much more powerful searches...if you know how to use them. In this post, I'm going to talk about some ways to make your searches more effective, by narrowing your results to the items you're most interested in.
To get to the library catalog, simply go to the library website, at www.mytpl.org. You can enter your search directly by typing it into the Search Catalog box on the right. Or you can click on Online Catalogs, and then click Online Catalog. This will bring you to the New Releases feature, which shows the covers of new books we've just added to our collection.
Now type a word in the search box. If you type in the word "dogs", for example, you'll find that we have over nearly 4,000 items with "dogs" as a keyword. Unless you want to click through all of them, you'll need to narrow things down a little. One way to do this is to specify the kind of material you're looking for. In the Format section on the menu to the left, you can narrow your search to books, DVDs, books on CD, and so on.
If you want to narrow it down a little further, you can choose a particular subject, such as Behavior or Training.
You can also see which branch (or branches) a particular item is available at by clicking All Copies beneath the item listing on the left.
The Card Catalog will then display all the branches that carry the item, its availability, and where to locate it on the library's shelves.
Things have changed a lot since the days of card catalogs. Our online catalog lets you search in new, sophisticated ways to find exactly what you need. It also offers many other powerful search tools, but we'll cover those in future blog posts. Have fun searching!