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Which Catalog Should I Use?

The library has lots of tools to search for information and (hopefully) get the full text. We also do not like retiring tools, so we have more tools than most libraries. Here is a brief summary of what search tools we have and what they do.

Library Catalogs


Classic Voyager (Classic Catalog)

Our older or “classic” catalog for local UIUC holdings using the WebVoyage software. Most people consider this clunky and slow, but it has some good features, which is why we do not retire it. Librarians like the ability to browse subject headings, which is not available in VuFind and not as robust in Primo. You can also search by call number. Many people who have been on campus for a while still use this as their primary library catalog because it is comfortable to them and they do not want to change.

VuFind (library Catalog)

Our newer catalog, with a better design and icons; contains the same data as in the classic catalog. The best thing about VuFind is the facets on the right side, which allow you search broadly and then narrow down your search. Does not have the ability to browse subject headings or search by call number. You must create a login the first time you request items, and it is unfortunately not connected to the NetID system (we recommend you use your NetID for your account, though).

iShare – https://vufind.carli.illinois.edu/

A version of the VuFind catalog that has items from all of the libraries in the iShare system. Use your VuFind to request items. If an item is not in one of the local catalogs, check here next. Electronic items (especially ebooks) in iShare are only for the library who hosts the material.

Discovery/Federated Systems

These tools search multiple electronic resources at the same time. These generally search our library catalogs and our databases, so they are frequently used by individuals wanting to find the full text of an article.

Easy Search

Easy Search is a federated search tool, meaning it performs a search in multiple databases simultaneously. Developed at the U of I, Easy Search gives us lots of flexibility to create subject specific searches, customize the results interface, and provide prompts based on research about our users. It is excellent at finding a citation that you copy/paste into the search box (even if you have incomplete information). The downside is that it can be slow, and users still have to click through to get to any actual results. It also doesn’t have the nicest interface. A lot of users think that “the search box on the library homepage” is THE search for library materials. And if people are unsure about resource they used, it is often Easy Search or a link from it.


This tool is developed by the same company as Voyager, ExLibris. It is referred to as a “discovery interface” as it allows users to search the library catalog and many library databases under one interface. However, we have reached server capacity, so it does not include all of our digital collections, and due to complicated vendor issues, does not include all of our electronic resources (especially those from ProQuest, including dissertations and newspapers). EBSCO results are not included by default (you have to select a separate search from the drop down menu) and we are confused about how it ranks results. Unlike most resources, it searches the full text of an item and not just the metadata. We went live with Primo in early 2013 and are linking to it from the gateway, but there are still a lot of uncertainties as to its role in the future. It does allow users to perform many of the same searches that are in Classic Voyager but not VuFind (but only includes local holdings). We’ve made some customizations that incorporate some of Easy Search’s features, including a searching LibGuides, author names, and, our electronic resources.

Electronic Resources

These two resources are the primary places to go for our electronic content, including databases and journals. Ebook collections are in these, but not individual ebooks (they are in the online catalogs). If you want to find subject specific resources, it is often best to consult the webpages for the subject libraries.

Online Journals and Databases (SFX)

This is the closest thing we have to an A-Z list of journals and databases. It does a good job with the journals, as it tracks title changes and changes in coverage. Databases are in here (in all caps under “More Options”), although this tool was not designed as a list of databases, making its implementation clunky. The subjects in SFX are pretty much useless because they do not match up with our structure.

Databases by Subject

Since we no longer have a nice list of all of the databases the library owns, this page was created. It links out to catalog records that have been given a subject heading for “database” and the specific subject area. This list, while useful, is not very comprehensive and is somewhat dependent on collection development fund manager making sure their subject is well-covered.

Other Catalogs

HPNL Newspaper Database

Useful database for smaller and older newspapers, especially from Illinois, which are often not in the online catalog This database does not provide indexing, but does show available formats and holdings information. The records show you the holdings that HPNL has for each paper, as well as the format. Most are in microfilm, but we’re also digitizing the smaller Illinois newspapers. For larger newspapers, like the New York Times and Chicago Tribune, it is easiest to find them in SFX (although they are linked from here).

Karlsruhe Virtual Catalogue

Metasearch interface to access library catalogs that is very Euro-centric. This isn’t often used, but can b useful as many of the libraries that are included are not in WorldCat.

Print Card Catalog

The print catalog is the record of our items before 1980 or so. We have removed most of it, but the Serial Record and Thesis file are still very useful and are at the Information Desk area.