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Using The Online Catalog

With the Online Catalog, you can find books, DVDs, audiobooks and eBooks - lots of things! You can make requests for things and also take care of own library account. Read these help tips to find the answer to most of your questions.

Help Topics

Searching the Online Catalog  |  Holds  |  Renewing Materials  |  Your Online Account  |  The My Lists Page  |  SMS Messaging

Searching the Online Catalog
The Online Catalog: The Basic Search Screen
The Online Catalog: Basic Search Tips
Basic Search Tips cheat sheet (PDF - Right Click to Save)
All About Basic Search in the Catalog (PDF - Right Click to Save)
What do I do if there are no results for my search?
What does "sort by relevance" mean?
Troubleshooting the "Stay logged in" feature of the catalog

Browsing the Online Catalog
How to Browse the Catalog
 
Holds
How to Place Holds
Suspending, Activating, and Cancelling Holds
Advanced Hold Options
Group Formats and Editions

 
Renewing Materials
Renewing Materials through the online catalog

 
Your Online Account
How do I get an Online Account?
Logging in to Your Account
Forgot your password?
The My Account page
Account Preferences -- Personal Information
Account Preferences -- Notification Preferences
Account Preferences -- Search & History
My Account (PDF document - Right Click to Save)
What if I can't get into My Account?
Why Don't I Get Email Notices?

 
The My Lists Page
The My Lists Page
Creating a List
Seeing Your List in the Catalog
Setting a Default List
Adding to an Existing List
The Temporary List
Moving Items from a Temporary List
Actions for Items on Your Lists
Sorting Items on Your Lists
Adding a Note to a List Item
Deleting an item from a list
Deleting a List
Downloading a CSV file
Sharing Your List

 
SMS Messaging

Sending yourself a text message from the online catalog

 

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Group Formats and Editions

After you have done a search, you will see two checkboxes above your search returns: Limit to Available and Group Formats and Editions. Within the Search Results page, you can also refine your searches by selecting the Group Formats and Editions checkbox.

Checking the box results in what looks like a different set of search results but now the records are arranged into groups. Some groups are small. They might only have one item in them. Others might have many items in the group. The number of records represented by the group are displayed in parenthesis next to the title.

For groups having more than one format, you'll see the icons for the formats displayed under the title as in the picture below.

To place a hold on an item in the group:

  1. Click the Place Hold link. (If you're not logged in, you'll be taken to the Log in to Your Account screen so you can log in first. If you're logged in, you'll go straight to the Place Hold screen.
  2. Within the Place Hold screen, you can select the any available formats and/or languages.
  3. Continue to enter any additional hold information (such as Pickup Location), if needed.
  4. Click Submit.

NOTE: Selecting more than one format will not place all of these formats on hold. For example, you cannot select CD Audiobook and Book and expect to place both the CD and book on hold at the same time. Instead, your hold will be filled by whichever becomes available first, the CD format or the book format. If no format is selected, then any of the available formats may be used to fill the hold. The same holds true for selecting multiple languages.

For more information on Advanced Hold Options, see Advanced Hold Options help.

Advanced Hold Options

Before you begin: This document describes the Advanced Hold Options link and what it does. If you have checked the Group Formats and Editions checkbox at the top of your search returns, you will be taken directly to the Advanced Hold Options screen without having to click an Advanced Hold Options link. See the Group Formats and Editions help document.


 

When you place a hold on an item you will see a link to Advanced Hold Options underneath the item's title. In the picture below, we are on the Place Hold screen, placing a hold on a book, Gone with the wind.

Clicking on the Advanced Hold Options link under the title brings up some additional options to choose from related to the hold. The picture below shows the two option boxes that will appear on the page: format and language.

Many items in the catalog are available in more than one format and more than one language. You will see two boxes: one for available formats and one for available languages. (If there is only one selection listed in either box, that means there is only one format or one language to choose from.)

If you move your mouse pointer over the words More Information, you will see a small pop-up box with some of the information from the document you're reading right now.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Selecting more than one format or more than one language is not the same as placing a hold on more than item. You are only placing one hold on one title and that hold will be filled by the first item available in any of the formats or languages you have chosen.

This can be useful. For example, suppose you want to read Gone with the Wind in print but you don't care if it's large print or regular print. You can select Book AND Large Print Book. Whichever one of these is available first, will fill your hold.

If you wanted to place holds on more than one Gone with the Wind title, you have to place each hold individually from the search results.

After you have made your selections, click the Submit button near the bottom of the page and your hold request will be processed as usual.

Operating System Note: The keyboard key and mouse click combination for selecting more than one option from a list varies depending on which operating system you are using. For instance, on Microsoft Windows systems, Ctrl+Left Click allows you to select more than one option.

 

Forgot Your Password?

There may be a time when you can't remember your password. If this is the case, click on the Forgot your password? link on the login page in the online catalog.  You will be brought to the password reset page https://catalog.cwmars.org/eg/opac/password_reset

You will see a screen that looks like this:

 

Enter your library card number OR user name. You do not need both.

The number that appears on your library card or on your mini-card has spaces in it. If you enter your library card number, leave out the spaces. Enter only the numbers.

NOTE: Your library account should have a valid and active email account associated with it. If you do not have a valid email address in your account, you will not be able to receive the email to reset your password.

Click "Submit" to sent the password reset request.

You will be taken to a page that displays the following message:

Your barcode or user name has been submitted for a password reset. If a matching account with an email address is found, you will soon receive an email at that address with further instructions for resetting your password.

The email that you receive will contain the following message:

You have received this message because you, or somebody else, requested a reset of your library system password. If you did not request a reset of your library system password, just ignore this message and your current password will continue to work.

If you did request a reset of your library system password, please perform the following steps to continue the process of resetting your password:

1. Open the following link in a web browser: (There will be a link to reset your password here.)
The browser displays a password reset form.

2. Enter your new password in the password reset form in the browser. You must enter the password twice to ensure that you do not make a mistake. If the passwords match, you will then be able to log in to your library system account with the new password.

NOTE: It sometimes happens that password reset emails are sent to your Junk or Spam folders. If you do not see the email in your Inbox within about an hour, check your Junk or Spam folders.

NOTE: You can also ask the staff at your local library to reset the password for you.

 

 

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Logging into Your Account

You get to the log in page in the online catalog one of two ways:

First, from any catalog screen, click on the "Log into My Account" button in the upper left hand corner of the screen.

Second, you can go directly to the log in page with this URL: https://catalog.cwmars.org/eg/opac/login

(The https at the beginning of the URL means that the communication between your browser and the web server is encrypted. This is for security and privacy purposes.)

When the login page is displayed, you will see two boxes in the center of the screen for entering your user name and password.

Enter your barcode (your library card number), without spaces, in the text box. The barcode that appears on the back of your library card or on your mini-card has spaces in it. To log into the online catalog, you don't need any of those spaces.

You may have chosen a user name for the online catalog (either through your online account or with the help of your local library staff). You should enter that instead of your library card number.

If you make a mistake in either place, you will get this error message

Login failed. The username or password provided was not valid. Ensure Caps-Lock is off and try again or contact your local library.

and you must try again.

Stay logged in?

If you check the checkbox next to the words "Stay logged in?", you will be kept logged in for up to two weeks, unless you log out.

NOTE: "Stay logged in" may not work if you use your web browser in a private mode or if you have your web browser set to clear all your history and cookies when you close it.

NOTE: If you use a computer that is used by more than one person, checking "Stay logged in?" may give other people access to your account. Be aware of this and keep your information safe.

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Why Don't I Get Email Notices?

In general, there are five reasons why someone won't get email notices

  1. Email notification unchecked in your account: the request for email notifications might either never have been checked in your account or it might have become unchecked. You can look in your online account and make sure that your email notification preference is set. This is found under Account Preferences > Notification Preferences
  2. No email address in your account: sometimes, when a new library account is created, adding an email address is overlooked. You can look in your online account and see what email address is associate with your account. This is found under Account Preferences > Personal Information. If no email address is there, you must contact your local library to have an address added. You cannot add an email address yourself.
  3. Incorrect email address in your account: an incorrect email address in your account can take one of two forms: first, the email address could be misspelled; second, the email address in your account could be an email address that you don't use any more or don't refer to very often. You can check your online account to see the email address associated with your library card. This is found under Account Preferences > Personal Information.
  4. Email re-directed into spam or junk folder: sometimes, because of some buzzword in the heading or body of an email from the library, the email can accidentally be mis-identified as spam or junk mail. Some email programs will automatically send mail like this to a folder labeled Junk or Spam. If you discover this is happening, set your email client's preferences to indicate that mail from a cwmars.org address is not spam.
  5. An issue related to the C/W MARS central email server: on rare occasions, an issue may arise at the email server level in C/W MARS that might cause you to experience a delay in receiving the C/W MARS mail. Besides being rare, though, this is usually a condition that it sorted out rapidly and your mail should get through.

How do I get an Online Account?

When you are issued your library card, an online account is automatically created. There is no extra sign up needed.

The technical name for the online catalog is Online Public Access Catalog or OPAC for short. When a library staff member  sets up your library account for you and issues you a library card, a part of the computer screen that s/he uses has a place to enter "OPAC User Name". This will be the user name that you will enter on the OPAC log in screen.

Typically, this user name is initially set to be your library card number. If you find it difficult to remember your library card number, you can ask the staff to change this user name to something you can remember more easily. Once you have successfully logged in to the online catalog, you can also change your user name  by yourself whenever you want.

Only library staff can create new library accounts and issue library cards. Individuals cannot create library accounts for themselves.

What does "sort by relevance" mean?

In this document, we're going to use Basic Search in the online catalog as our example. All the principles mentioned for Basic Search work the same way for Advanced Search.

What is "relevance"?

When you do a search in the online catalog, you enter a keyword or keywords (a word or words that you type into the search box) and  you also have the option of choosing search filters (type of keyword search, type of material, and location).

Relevance refers to the  connection the information in the catalog database and the search string you've entered and the search filters (if any) you've chosen

What makes something "relevant"?

Keywords are a word or words that you enter into the search box on the catalog search screen. These are significant words (like the title of a book or an author's name) that will help finding the items you're looking for in the catalog.

The word (or words) are also called search terms. "Search terms" and "keywords" mean the same thing.

A database record is "relevant" to your keywords because the keywords appear in the record. The more times your keywords appear in a record, the more relevant that database record is considered to be.

How does that work when I do a search?

The catalog database is where all the records are stored of every item owned by every member library.

The database is made up of tables of information and the tables are made up of information fields. An example of a field in a table would be "Title" or "Author". There are many fields in each item's record. Most of the fields are indexed. When a field is indexed, that means the information in the field is available to be searched and found.

Because searching for title and authors is the most popular way of searching the online catalog, when you search for your keywords, the system automatically checks all the records for whether or not your keywords appear in a Title or an Author field.

If your keywords appear in a Title or Author field, the system will show you these results first in the list of search returns. ("Search returns" means the list of items in the catalog that matched your keywords and search filters.)

If your keywords do not appear in a Title or Author field, the system will show you results where your keywords appear in other parts of the records. An example of this might be where a music CD doesn't have the keywords in the Title or Author fields but where the words appear in the name of one of the songs on the album. (Technical note: titles of songs in an album or titles of short stories in a book can also be considered as "titles" from the point of view of the system.)

How do the search filters work with relevance?

A search filter is used to narrow the scope of your search returns. The scope of a search is the area in which a search is appropriate (or "relevant"). In Basic Search, there are three kinds of search filters that can limit the scope of your search returns: a format filter, a Keyword filter, and a Location filter.

When you use one of these filters, your search returns will be limited to records in the database that match the filters.

For example, if you choose "DVD" from the format filters, your search returns will only contain records that have "DVD" in them.

If you choose a particular library, your search returns will only be from items that are owned by that particular library.

 

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The Adventurer's Guide to Searching the Online Catalog

This document is meant to take you a little bit "under the hood" in the online catalog, to show you some of what makes the catalog work and why it works the way it does. You are also going to learn some of the technical terms that are used to describe different parts of the system.

The Online Catalog

The online catalog for the libraries in C/W MARS is the digital replacement for the old physical card catalog. Large containers filled with drawers and drawers filled with cards have been replaced by centralized collections of electronic information. You no longer have to go into the library to see what materials the library offers. You do not  have to travel to many different libraries to search each one individually. Because information about the materials in the library are now held in one central digital location, you are able to search many libraries simultaneously.

What we think of as the "online catalog" is made up mainly of two things: search interfaces (basic and advanced) for us -- the end users -- to use, and the digital information (data) about everything that the C/W MARS member libraries own that they are choosing to make available.

Sometimes you may hear the online catalog being referred to as "the OPAC" (pronounced "oh-pack"). OPAC is an acronym for "Online Public Access Catalog". Sometimes, "OPAC" is shortened to just "PAC" (pronounced "pack"). If you hear someoe say "Search the PAC", now you know what they're talking about. The online catalog may also be referred to as "the catalog" or "the library catalog".

The search interface is what you see on your screen in your web browser. In C/W MARS, we have a basic search interface, an advanced search interface, and several different interfaces to different kinds of advanced searching. Here's a picture of our Basic Search interface (Basic Search screen):

The internet address for the C/W MARS online catalog is http://bark.cwmars.org.

The search interfaces give human users of the digital information an easy-to-understand way to access that information. (There are non-human "users" of the system. Many different programs perform operations behind the scenes, doing updates, reports, and making scheduled changes. These programs have their own, separate, interfaces to the information.)

The Bibliographic Record

The search interface of the online catalog is a discovery platform. "Discovery Platform" is a technical name for the interface (and all the things you can do with the interface) that you use to search a database. It is common for people to think of the search interfaces as being the online catalog. What the interfaces help you "discover" is the information in the C/W MARS database.

Every item in the online catalog has a bibliographic record (bib record). All the records together are what makes up the bibliographic database that you can search through using the search interfaces.

Together, the search interfaces and the bibliographic records make up the online catalog.

A bib record contains all the information that was entered to help identify and retrieve information about any given item, as well as some additional supporting information.

The data, or information, in a bib record is entered into the database in a special format. A lot of the data in the bibliographic database is indexed for searching. This is just like you would look at the index in the back of a book so that you could find something, except the online catalog can look for many indexes simultaneously.

The main bibliographic data format that we use is called MARC. MARC is an established data format for bibliographic records, used throughout the library and publishing industries.

When the bibliographic information is in MARC format, we call that a MARC record.

All the items in our catalog have MARC records. Some items in the catalog have a lot of information in their MARC record and some do not have a lot.

When you do a search in the online catalog, the catalog searches the information in the bibliographic record to find things that are relevant to your search.

Search Relevance

What is "relevance"?

When you do a search in the online catalog, you enter a keyword or keywords (a word or words that you type into the search box) and  you also have the option of choosing search filters (type of keyword search, type of material, and location).

Relevance refers to the  connection the information in the catalog database and the search string you've entered and the search filters (if any) you've chosen

What makes something "relevant"?

Keywords are a word or words that you enter into the search box on the catalog search screen. These are significant words (like the title of a book or an author's name) that will help finding the items you're looking for in the catalog.

The word (or words) are also called search terms. "Search terms" and "keywords" mean the same thing.

A database record is "relevant" to your keywords because the keywords appear in the record. The more times your keywords appear in a record, the more relevant that database record is considered to be.

How does that work when I do a search?

The catalog database is where all the records are stored of every item owned by every member library.

The database is made up of tables of information and the tables are made up of information fields. An example of a field in a table would be "Title" or "Author". There are many fields in each item's record. Most of the fields are indexed. When a field is indexed, that means the information in the field is available to be searched and found.

Because searching for title and authors is the most popular way of searching the online catalog, when you search for your keywords, the system automatically checks all the records for whether or not your keywords appear in a Title or an Author field.

If your keywords appear in a Title or Author field, the system will show you these results first in the list of search returns. ("Search returns" means the list of items in the catalog that matched your keywords and search filters.)

If your keywords do not appear in a Title or Author field, the system will show you results where your keywords appear in other parts of the records. An example of this might be where a music CD doesn't have the keywords in the Title or Author fields but where the words appear in the name of one of the songs on the album. (Technical note: titles of songs in an album or titles of short stories in a book can also be considered as "titles" from the point of view of the system.)

How do the search filters work with relevance?

A search filter is used to narrow the scope of your search returns. The scope of a search is the area in which a search is appropriate (or "relevant"). In Basic Search, there are three kinds of search filters that can limit the scope of your search returns: a format filter, a Keyword filter, and a Location filter.

When you use one of these filters, your search returns will be limited to records in the database that match the filters.

For example, if you choose "DVD" from the format filters, your search returns will only contain records that have "DVD" in them.

If you choose a particular library, your search returns will only be from items that are owned by that particular library.

 

 

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What if I can't get into My Account?

Here is a list of common reasons why you might not be able to log into your account successfully and what to do about each of them. 

  • Mis-typed or incorrect username or password 
Be sure that your Caps Lock key is off. 
Re-enter your username and password. 
  • Expired Account
Your library card has an expiration date. If you don’t know it, you can get it from your local librarian. Sometimes a library card expires and the patron is not aware of it. 
  • Computer settings prevent access
Sometimes the internet security settings on a patron’s desktop or laptop computer will prevent successful 
login. Adding https://catalog.cwmars.org to a list of trusted sites will solve this problem. 
  • Computer firewall settings preventing access
Sometimes the firewall settings on a patron’s computer will block successful login. The solution to this will 
vary, depending on which firewall is installed and operating. 
  • Password error
Occasionally, a patron’s password in incorrectly changed at the local library. This can be remedied by contacting the local library. 
  • Attempting to log in at the wrong web site
C/W MARS moved to the new online catalog quite a while ago. A patron who has not visited the catalog in a long time  may have bookmarked the old catalog and may inadvertently try to log in there. The correct catalog address is: https://catalog.cwmars.org
  • 7. Incorrect barcode number
Under the old library system, many patrons had multiple library cards. Under the new system, these cards 
have been combined and one of the numbers made the primary number. The others are usually inactive. Inactive card numbers cannot be used to log in. Contact your local library for the active card number. 
  • 8. Patron Account blocked or barred

Patron accounts can become blocked or barred for a variety of reasons. This can be resolved at the local libraries.

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