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MUC 321 Spring 2018

Using the library's catalog

B-W's library catalog is part of a consortium of libraries called OPAL. OPAL is part of a far larger consortium called OhioLINK. Through OhioLINK, our staff and students have access to over 50 million items from 89 libraries around the state.


First off, remember that the catalog is not Google, and it does not always respond well to google-like searches.

It is not a full-text database. It indexes access points such as author, title, contents notes, and subject headings.

The catalog uses something called controlled vocabulary (think of them as authorized terms) to describe items. Look for these terms and use them to refine your searches.

The catalog defaults to Keyword searching, and this is a good way to get started. Enter terms you know, either authors, titles, or subject terms. The catalog will return items that contain the terms you enter.

Note that you can use the boxes and menus on the Keyword tab to limit a search by Material Type, Language, Date, and other criteria.

You can use Boolean operators, wildcards, and adjacency operators to expand or refine a search. See for more information.

If you don't find everything you need, look for authorized titles and subject headings in relevant records. Be careful about following links to titles or subject headings, though, as they do not always work properly. You often just have to type the terms into a search box yourself. (Sorry about that).


Controlled vocabulary can be particularly important when searching for music. If you think about the number of items in the library with the title "symphony" or "sonata", you can see why title searches are often not enough. If you're searching for a "generic" title like symphony, quartet, or divertimento, use the title and the composer's name (but see the next point about titles).

So that controlled vocabulary is very important for music titles, and it appears as something called a uniform title, a title we assign uniformly to every manifestation of a work. If you use the uniform title, your search results will be more likely to include all of the scores or recordings of a work. Uniform titles show up as links in a record (but don't follow the links, they won't work right). For 'generic" titles like symphony, the uniform titles will usually be plural (symphonies instead of symphony, concertos instead of concerto). Only if the composer wrote only one of a type of work will the UT be singular. So start your search with the plural instead of the singular, and you should get better results. Whew.

For "distinctive" titles (Rite of Spring, Night on Bald Mountain, Magic Flute), the uniform title will be in the original language. This language may not be the one you'd expect. For example, the UT for Rite of Spring is not the French Sacre du Printemps (as you might expect) but the Russian, Vesna sviashchennaia. So again, start with what you know, but look for the authorized title.

Limit options can also be very helpful when searching for music, particularly the material type limits. If you're looking for printed music, select Music Score from the Material Type menu. If you're looking for recordings, select Music Recording or, to limit specifically to CDs, select CD from the Sound Recording menu.