Just Click on Us to Connect…Searching NPLN's Virtual Online Catalog
On October 16th, NPLN (Northeastern Pennsylvania Library Network), officially launched its new website—located at www.npln.org and its new virtual online catalog. Powered by OCLC's SiteSearch software, the Virtual Online Catalog allows users to search the catalogs of the eight participating institutions simultaneously. The power of the SiteSearch software is that it is able to take the data from six different online library catalog systems: DRA (University of Scranton), Dynix (Marywood University, Luzerne County Community College), Horizon (King's College), Innovative Interfaces (Osterhout Free Library), Sirsi (Scranton Public Library, College Misericordia) and VTLS (Wilkes University) and manipulate the data from these different systems so that a meaningful search can be performed.Searching NPLN's new Virtual Online Catalog is easy! The following are some tips and techniques to get the most out of your searches. From the NPLN home page, use either the scrolling top bar or the text link at the bottom of the page to select: Search Online Catalog. Instantly you will be brought to NPLN's Online Catalog. The first thing you need to do is select what library or libraries catalog(s) you are going to search. The catalogs have been conveniently grouped by county (Lackawanna or Luzerne), type (academic or public), all libraries, individual libraries, or you can create your own group by selecting from the library catalogs available.
If you decide to create your own group of library catalogs to search you must give your group a name. After you select the libraries to search and give your new group a name you will be taken back to the first screen with all of the library "groups" again. At this point, select the name of the group you have created to begin the search. (When you are finished searching the NPLN Online Catalog and the website, the group you have created goes away and must be recreated again if you return to the NPLN Online Catalog at a later time.) With your group selected, you will now be taken to the main search screen. Take notice of the labeled "tabs" above your group's name. There are several choices for searching: Titles, Authors, Keywords, and Advanced. (The Browse tab is not currently available for searching.) To use any of the search features you must click on the individual tab for the feature you want. The default choice is always Keywords (notice that this tab is highlighted, indicating that it is in use.) Keywords are any words used in all the indexed fields of a library's catalog records. The blank space next to the "Search" button is where you can type the terms you are going to use in your search.
You can use the Boolean operators "and" and "or" to combine the terms that you are searching in the Keyword search, e.g., television and advertising. The bar on the left, after you perform your search, tells the total number of items or "hits" found. It also breaks the numbers of items down by institution. You can click on an institution's name to go to its listings. Two other options that are available as buttons are: refine and sort. You can refine your search by adding keywords or limit by year, e.g., 1999-2000. You can sort your search by Title, Author or Date. Since the result list initially is by institution, sorting by Title will allow you to see if more than one institution owns the same item. The list of records that displays after a search is performed is "brief" records containing only: author, title, library, publisher and description, which indicates the type of material (book, videocassette, sound cassette, etc.) located. Clicking on an item's title will give you the "full" record which includes the item's call number, status (available, stacks, on-shelf, checked in, checked out), the name of the institution, and the location of the item. Location is important because the records for the Scranton Public Library and Osterhout Free Library include the records of the Lackawanna and Luzerne County Library Systems as well as their local holdings. In other words, an item may indicate Scranton Public Library but its physical location may indicate that it is located at the Abington Community Library. Next to each record on your result list is a box that can be clicked in so that a check appears to "save record." This creates a separate listing of items you may be interested in. After "checking" the items you are interested in, click on "saved records" in the upper right-hand part of the screen. The full records for only those items you checked will appear on the screen. At this point you can either print the list of records by using your web browser's Print command located under File, or your can use the e-mail option located by clicking the e-mail button on the screen.
The top right has other options that you can choose from besides "Saved Records." These include: Catalogs - this option takes you back to the beginning to select either a new group of catalogs or an individual catalog; New Search - this option allows you to start a new search using the group you have currently selected; History - this shows you all of the searches you have performed and allows you to return to the results; Help - this option reviews what records are in the NPLN Online Catalog and how to search the catalog; and Exit - this option logs you out of the catalog. There are other options for searching the NPLN Online Catalog. To search by an author's name, click on the tab to select "Authors" and then type in the author's last name followed by a comma and then the first name. The procedure for searching for by an author's name is also noted on the bottom of the screen.
To search for an item by title, click on the "Titles" tab and type in either the full title of the item you want or significant words in the title. Clicking on the "Advanced" search tab allows you to combine and search Keywords, Authors, Titles, Standard Number (ISBN or ISSN), and Subjects using Boolean operators. NPLN's Online Catalog has been a great success. Students and patrons seem pleased at being able to search so many area catalogs simultaneously. It is the organization's intention to continue to expand and enhance the services that it is able to offer patrons through its online catalog and website.
Please note: The NPLN Online Catalog is still in production. Two of the participating institutions, Luzerne County Community College and Wilkes University are slated to be online in early 2001. Functionality issues are still being resolved with each participating library's catalog. Differences in catalog records may create unusual search results.