Library Research Guide to Psychology: Illustrated Search Strategy and Sources

By Nancy E. Douglas; Nathan E. Baum | Go to book overview

8 Using Other Libraries

"If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us."

-- Adlai Stevenson, speech. University of Wisconsin, Madison, Oct. 8, 1952.

It is satisfying to use bibliographies, periodical indexes, and abstracts, when they lead you to vital books and articles in your library. However, these reference sources can also be frustrating if, after locating some choice items, you find that your library does not own them. This happens to students and faculty even at the largest libraries. Fortunately, the problem is not without solution if you act in time.


How to Request Materials from Other Libraries

Your reference librarian may be able to borrow the books you need from another library and may be able to get you photocopies of any articles you need. All the librarian needs is time, a full and accurate citation, and, in the case of photocopying, usually some cash. The time required varies from a few days to a few months, depending on whether your library is part of a cooperating network of libraries and whether the material is available in the library where it is requested. An average wait is about two weeks. The information generally required includes a full citation and identification of the place where you found the book or article cited. This may seem like bureaucratic red tape, but this information is required by lending libraries and is good insurance against errors in transmission. If you do not have the full bibliographic information, ask your reference librarian to help you find it. Libraries often make no charge for mailing books, but they seldom mail periodicals. The cost of photocopies is usually ten cents or more per exposure.

If you are an undergraduate at a university, you may find that this interlibrary loan service is not available to you; a university library serving doctoral students is presumed to have a collection that is adequate for undergraduates. InterU+00A library loan service is more readily available to undergraduates at colleges, which often have made special arrangements to borrow from a nearby university or state library.


Visiting Another Library

If a large university library is close, your time is short, or your library will not borrow for you, then you may prefer to visit another library. Your reference librarian can give you the address, phone number, subject specialties, and perhaps the hours of most libraries you may want to visit. You might ask which are closest and whether you will need a pass or letter of introduction in order to use the library. Most libraries let visitors use materials in the library only.

If you need a particular periodical, your reference librarian can help you find which nearby libraries own it by using New Serial Titles ( Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1953-) or state and regional lists which might exist for your area. Books are a little harder to locate, but the National Union Catalog ( Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1953- ) does give the location of a good many books. Also, there are two computer systems which can provide location information for both periodicals and books: OCLC (On-line Computer Library Center) and RLIN (Research Library Information Network). Each system has a database consisting of catalog records, with information very much like that in a card catalog. Many libraries are now members of one of these networks, and your librarian can search the database to determine which other member libraries have the title you need. In some libraries there are public terminals and instructions for their use so you can perform the search yourself. Remember, though, that libraries generally have materials that do not show up in the database, since most libraries have been members of the computer networks for fewer than ten years and do not have their earlier materials in the database. Also, the fact that a library owns an item does not mean that the item will be available for your use. If only a particular title will satisfy your needs, you may want to phone a library and ask them to hold it for you if they find it on the shelf. Since most big libraries need an hour or more to look in their catalogs and on their shelves, they will probably ask you to call back.


Using the Library of Congress Subject Catalog

If you are having difficulty finding enough books on your topic, consult the subject-arranged book catalog of the world's largest library, the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress' Subject Catalog, previously entitled Books: Subjects; A Cumulative List of Works Represented by Library of Congress Printed Cards, ( Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1955- ) with its annual and five-year cumulaU+00A tions and quarterly supplements is a subject listing of books and other material published in the U.S. from 1950 to date.

As FIGURE 8.1 shows, if you look in the 1978 volumes under the heading "Television broadcasting of news," you see that this source includes many foreign publications, such

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