What is the library catalog?
Libraries have thousands of items available for users. So many it would be impossible to list them all, so a database is used to organize them so people can find and access them. Some of these things are on shelves in the library, some are on microfilm or in the form a printed maps, others are on web sites the library has designated as helpful to users. All of these things can be found by searching the library catalog.
So what is it....?
The library catalog is a database of library materials that can be used to access content the library holds, as well as sources outside the library. The library catalog was originally a series of cards and was a familiar sight to library users for years, but it has been effectively replaced by a digital form called the online public access catalog (OPAC).
What is an OPAC?
The online public access catalog (or OPAC) is a digital collection of all items found in a library or group of libraries, such as a network of libraries at several locations, such as all college libraries in Illinois. The first OPAC's could only be used inside the library. Now many libraries have OPAC's that can be accessed from the Internet. OPAC catalog items can be any information entity, such as: books, computer files, graphics, media, maps, web pages, etc.), that is considered library material.
The library OPAC at WIU is called WestCat. You'll notice it is laid out just like the iShare catalog. This is becausee it uses the same software, as do dozens of libraries across Illinois, The benefit is that if you can find things here, you can also do so at any of the other libraries. Even if a different software is used, the basic principles are the same and most every library catalog will have many of the same features, even though the interfaces might be different!
The library catalog has a series of tabs at the top of the page. These tabs are links to helpful tools available that will assist you with searching the catalog. Here's a brief description of each tool.
This is the default part of the catalog where you can start your search of the Western Illinois University Libraries. You can decide what type of search you would like to perform, whether it be: Basic, Advanced, Subject or Author. You may also access Course Reserve material from the "Search" tab, as well as find out what new items are available in the catalog. Please explore the pages in this guide to find out more about searching the catalog.
This searches multiple libraries in the Illinois system. If it is available, you can order it using the My Account features. Items ordered through I-Share will usually be the quickest way to get the item, so use it first.
Renew Books/My Account
The My Account page allows you to review your library transactions.
- Press View Personal Information to review the address and phone number that is on file with the library.
- Press Edit Preferences to set personal preferences for using the library catalog.
- View a listing of your outstanding fines and fees due to the library.
- See the materials that are checked out and renew these items.
- See requests pending at the library and their status.
New in the Catalog
This link will take you to a page that lists all the most recent additions to the collections at the library.