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Using Library Catalogs & Music Databases: WestCat

Introduction to WestCat

Begin at the Music Library's homepage. This is your gateway to the resources and information that you will need to complete your assignments.

In the left hand column, click on the link to WestCatWestCat is WIU's library catalog and contains records of all of the books, scores, recordings, and audiovisual materials in the library's collection. 

The Search by box presents a number of options: 

You can even access your WestCat account online to check due dates and renew library materials!

Search by Title

In the "Search by" box, click on "Title." To search for the title, "The Interactive Saxophone," type <interactive saxophone> in the "Search for" box. Note that you do not include "The" -- initials articles such as "a" or "the" are not included in title searches.

Click the "Search" button.

The resulting screen shows the record for the item, which is a CD in the Music Library's collection. The record describes the item in great detail: author, title, physical description, contents, etc. (Note the description for a CD: 1 sound disc : digital, stereo ; 4 3/4 in.) The information in the record will help confirm that this is the item that you need.

At the bottom of the screen, you'll see important information describing where the item is located. The location indicates that it is kept in the Music Recordings section of the Music Library, which is in Sallee Hall. The call number, MUSIC. MCD268.V262 I57 2006, is the library's way of providing a unique address for the item so that you can find it on the shelf!

Search by Author

To find out what items the Music Library has by a specific author or composer, choose the search by author option. Be sure to enter the last name, followed by the first name. For example, to search for items by Virgil Thomson,  type <thomson virgil> in the search box.

The first line of the results screen indicates that the Music Library has 59 items by this author.

Click on the heading to bring up a listing of all 59 items.

Begin scrolling down the list, paying attention to the format column on the right-hand side. You will see items that are books, music recordings, and music scores. 

If you were only interested in music scores by Thomson, you could not limit the results to just scores using the author search. To be able to search for specific formats, you need to switch to the Any Word Anywhere (AWA) option.

Search by Any Word Anywhere

Any Word Anywhere (AWA) is a form of keyword searching. Any Word Anywhere allows you to search for keywords and limit results to specific formats or locations. 

For example, to find scores by Virgil Thomson, you would type "virgil thomson" into the search box and then limit results to music scores.

Any Word Anywhere searches work best when you use operators. To understand how these work, read carefully through the Any Word Anywhere box in the "Search Examples" just below the shaded area that we have been using.

Suppose that we want to look up English lute songs. 

If you type <english lute songs> into the search box, WestCat will look for any of those three words anywhere in the record. 

If you type <+english +lute +songs>, WestCat will look for items that have all three words present in the record, although they will not necessarily appear together. The plus sign (+) means that the word following it must be present in the record.

Finally, if you type <+english "lute songs">, WestCat will search for the words "lute songs" together. The quotation marks ("") mean that the terms should be searched together as a phrase.

By using operators ("" and +), you were able to narrow your keyword search!

Now, suppose that you only want recordings, not scores or books. Select "Music Recordings" in the Quick Limit box.

Another useful operator is the truncation symbol (?). The results of a search for <symphon?>, for example, will include terms such as:

  • Symphony (singular)
  • Symphonies (plural)
  • Symphonie (French, German)
  • Symphonien (German, plural)
  • Symphonic (adjective)

Other common examples would be <motet?> to include Motet, Motets, Motette, Motetten, etc.; <sonat?> to include Sonata, Sonatas, Sonates, Sonaten, etc.; and <concert?> to include Concert, Concerts, Concerto, Concerti, etc. The truncation symbol enables you to broaden your search to include variant spellings.

In more complicated searches, it is helpful to pick out the important words (keywords). To find a musical score of the setting of The Passion According to Saint Matthew by Heinrich Schütz, for example, set the limit to "Music Scores" and type <+schutz +passion? +matt?> in the "Search for" box.

To indicate a word that you do not want in your search, use the exclamation mark (!). For example, if you wanted to find settings of the Magnificat, but not the one by Bach, you would search for <+magnificat !bach>.

Final tip: Place numbering systems for music in quotes. For example:

  • Beethoven, op. 67: <+beethoven +"op. 67">
  • Beethoven Symphony No. 5: <+beethoven +symphon? +"no. 5">

This will search for these numbering systems as a phrase, leading to more precise results.

Search by Subject

Use a subject search to search for books about persons, places, and things.

Click on the Subject search option in the "Search by" box, and try the following searches:

     1. <tallis thomas>

The results list shows the number of books we have about the composer Thomas Tallis.

     2. <bodleian library>

The results list shows the number of books we have about the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England.

     3. <renaissance music>

This search result is disappointing -- 0 hits -- but don't despair!

Dealing with things can be complicated, as they are known by different names and/or can be described in different ways. To bring all of these items about a topic together, a single term is selected for use in library catalogs. Click on the "See Also" button on the left-hand side to find the correct term.

The next screen tells you that the way to search for materials about Renaissance music is actually by century: Music -- 15th century, etc. 

A subject search can also help for people known by several different names. For example, consider Josquin -- The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians lists 17 variant spellings of his name!

An Author search for <Josquin> brings up three of these. If you click on the "See Also" button, you'll be brought to the selected term for Josquin: Josquin, des Prez.

This is a huge help because all items about Josquin are pulled together into this record, no matter how his name appears in the individual items.


Search by Call Number

If you already know the call number of an item, you can also conduct a call number search.

To be sure of a valid search, leave a space between each element of the call number. You don't need to use capital letters, but you do need to insert the period before the first "Cutter" number (in the example below, this is .s38).

Checking Your WestCat Account

You can check due dates and renew library materials online! On WestCat, click on the "Renew Books/MyAccount" button in the middle of the screen.

You will be brought to a patron login screen.

Your Library Borrower ID is 21711 + your nine-digit WIU ID number (see example below).

Once you enter your Library Borrower ID and your last name, you will be brought to your WestCat account.