---------------How to Access Electronic Information---------------
OPAC (Online Public Access Catalogue) is a term used to describe any type of computerized library catalogue.
Online Public Access Catalogues allow you the flexibility to:
- find out what the library has to offer
- check the status of an item (checked out, on shelf, on hold, and so on)
- check your own library record for fines, reserves, or overdues
- reserve an item
- look up community information
- use CD-ROM databases (such as indexes or encyclopedias)
- link up with library catalogues or databases in other communities
If you have a computer with a modem, check for the telephone access number of your library; then you may be able to perform many of these activities from home.
Some opacs are more user-friendly than others. In some libraries there are instruction sheets right at the terminal. In addition, guides to using the opac, called "help screens", appear on the screen when you ask for them while you are searching.
A library's card catalogue allowed a search by title, author and subject, but that 3x5 card catalogue is almost gone. The same information is available online with some subject expansion. In some systems, you may be able to search by a combination of fields such as title and author, thus narrowing your search. As well, you may be able to search by keyword.
Before you start your search, check to see if there is a subject heading list or thesaurus. The obvious word to you may not be the subject heading used in that database. For example, information on "cars" may be listed under "automobiles".
In most systems the first option on the menu is a keyword search, such as a title or any word from the title. You can also ask for books on a special subject by keyword. For example, have you ever wondered whether the library has information on baseball uniforms? Try a keyword search combining the two words "baseball" and "uniform".
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