Library Tutorials

What is the Library Catalog?

What is the Catalog?

The Catalog is a search tool that allows you to search for physical items that the Libraries own.

What can I find in the Catalog?

Books, eBooks, print journals and newspapers, DVDs and VHS tapes, government documents, microfilm, some archival collections, and more. While the Catalog primarily searches for physical items that the Libraries own, some electronic resources--like eBooks--are also included.

This tutorial will focus on finding print books in the Catalog. Finding other items follows a similar process, but the items themselves are located in different places in the UM Libraries or online.

If you are on a distance campus, use Interlibrary Loan to request items (tutorial) that you find in the library catalog, and they will be delivered to your campus.

Searching the Library Catalog

Step 1. Go to We want to start by clicking on the Catalog tab of the search box on the home page. Make sure the Catalog tab is highlighted in blue and the search box says "Search for physical items...".

Screenshot of UM Libraries home page with catalog search bar highlighted

Step 2. The next step is to enter your search terms. In this case, we are searching for information about paying college athletes, so enter "paying college athetes." You can search for a general topic like we are doing here, or you can search for the title of a specific item. The catalog is picky about spelling, so make sure all of your search terms are spelled correctly and there are no typos.Catalog search for "paying college athletes" 

Step 3. View your results. In this case, we found 1 book and 1 eBook on this topic.Screenshot of catalog results.

Step 4. If you would like to refine your results, click on "Modify Search" above the search box at the top of the results.

Screenshot of catalog results with "Modify Search" highlighted.

You can limit your results to items in a specific location, such as the Main (J.D. Williams) Library, the Science Library, or the Juvenile Collection; by material type, such as book, eBook, or DVD; by language; and by publication date.

Screen shot of Catalog Advanced search with options highlighted.

Step 5. Select an item to look at from your results.

Screen shot of catalog with first result highlighted.

Step 6. Once you have selected an item, take a moment to look at the information provided. Many items will provide a table of contents, summary, or other information about the item.Screen shot of catalog record for "Should College Athletes Be Paid?"

If you decide you want to check out the item, there are 3 things you need to check:

1. The location - which building is the item located in? This item is located in the Main Library, which is the J.D. Williams Library.Screen shot of catalog record with LOCATION highlighted

2. The status - is the item available for you? If the status says "available," you can check it out; if it says "library use only," you can use it, but the item cannot leave the library. If it says anything else, the item is not available for you to use or check out.

Screen shot of catalog record with STATUS highlighted.

3. The call number - the call number tells you exactly where the book is located in the library. More information about how to read a call number can be found at this link.

Screen shot of catalog record with CALL NUMBER highlighted.

Step 7. Once you have the call number, you can figure out where exactly in the library your item is located. Under "Additional Resources," you can see that this item is located on the 3rd floor. Click on "3rd Floor" to view a map.

Screen shot of catalog record with ADDITIONAL RESOURCES highlighted.

The floor map is marked with the letters that correspond with the letters at the beginning of the call numbers of the books shelved in each area. In this case, this book's call number starts with "GV", so we are looking for "GV" on the map, which falls alphabetically between "E" and "HB" (circled).

Screen shot of call number map with "E" highlighted.

Step 8. Now that you know where your book is--on the 3rd floor near the skylights--you can go find your book on the shelf. After finding your book, you can take it to one of the circulation desks at either entrance to check it out.