Finding What You Seek: Catalogs + Finding Aids

Published: March 21, 2013

As many of you know, the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library is a UCLA library and, as such, our holdings are represented in the UCLA Library online catalog. Searching the catalog can tell you what resources UCLA’s many libraries and archives have for you to explore, peruse, and read.

But what if you are looking for materials specifically within the Clark’s collections? How might you focus your search? And what if you cannot find in the online catalog what you think should be there? Here are a few tips to help you to discover what you seek.

First, go to the UCLA Library catalog. You’ll see in the lower right-hand corner of the search box a blue button, with a white arrow, labeled “Set Other Search Limits.”

set other search limits

Click this button, which takes you to a page where you can limit your search by “Location.” In the Location menu, scroll down and click on “Clark Library,” then click on the “Set Limits” button at the bottom of the page.

set limits

You will then be returned to the main page of the UCLA Library catalog, with an added note in purple stating, somewhat emphatically: “Search limits are in effect!”

search limits in effect

You are now able to search just within the Clark’s collections. But there is one important caveat: Make sure that your search is a “Keyword” search. If you change the search option to Author List, Title, or anything else, the catalog will erase your Clark Library location limit. This is not intuitive, so please ask us if you have questions.

One additional note regarding the online catalog: Once you have found a record that interests you, be sure to click the “Detailed Record” button at the top of the screen to see more about the item’s physical description, provenance, and other potentially pertinent information.

detailed record

There are two other sources that you can use to find what you seek within the Clark’s collections. The first is our collection of finding aids on the Online Archive of California. Here we post the descriptions of our archival materials, including manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, artwork, and other non-printed documents.

The second is our card catalog.

Clark card catalog

We indeed still have a card catalog, conveniently located in the foyer to the library’s reading room. During the retrospective conversion process in which our catalog cards were converted into digital data and added to the UCLA Library online catalog, a number of Clark materials were inadvertently excluded. The card catalog thus contains records of materials that are not in our online catalog and continues to be an essential searching tool.

We encourage our readers to let us know when they find materials in the card catalog, but not in the online catalog, so that we can add the missed records into the latter. But those interested in doing research at the Clark should be prepared to search our holdings in the card catalog as well as the online catalog. Think of it as a hybrid search model — a sometimes non-intuitive, potentially complex, but rewarding process. And the Clark staff are always here to help.


Joseph Bristow on

Many thanks for posting this, Shannon. This is a very helpful explanation of how the make the best use of the web voyager online catalog. Becky has of course been doing splendid work to refine the finding-aids for the various Wilde collections. I think we need to be develop a “tip sheet” that compiles useful search terms for the Wilde materials. My students and I remain extremely grateful to the wonderful Clark library staff for making the excellent resources of the library as accessible as possible. Joe

Shannon on

Thank you, Joe! A tip sheet is a wonderful idea, especially for the wealth of Wilde materials and the varied terms that might be used to find them. Many thanks, as always!

Joseph Bristow on

Let me contact my undergraduate students about their thoughts on a tip sheet once they have finished their projects, which are due tomorrow. I hear that they have been working very busily in the reading room! So far their drafts indicate that they have produced some astonishingly original pieces of research–all of which are very much the splendid result of the library’s staff’s unstinting support.

Shannon on

That would be wonderfully helpful, Joe. Thank you. And, indeed, your students have been researching like seasoned scholars all week (and all quarter). We’ll miss them in the spring, but we are so glad that we have had the chance to contribute to the seminar being so fruitful and engaging for them.

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