Online Public Access Catalogs (OPAC)
An Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) is a computerized database of a library's holdings. In most libraries, OPACs have replaced the card catalog.
OPACs offer several advantages over the traditional card catalog. For example, there are more advanced searching options than the usual author, title, and subject. In addition, a computerized system enables a library to offer remote access to the catalog - that is, access from outside the physical library - enabling you to search from your home computer.
A record in an OPAC represents a book, a DVD, a CD, or other library materials. Each library decides what type of materials, other than books, are contained in its database or OPAC. Of course, there are magazines, maps, and newspapers, but there may also be videos, films, photographs, sound recordings, or art. Each of these items has its own record. The format (whether DVD, ebook, etc.) is identified in the description field. Look at the Description and Notes fields in the following record.
The contents filed contains a list of topics covered in the 3 DVD's. This information would be useful for students taking political science and philosophy classes.
The next record represents the book Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family. Notice all the different fields on the left side of the record.
RECORD 1 out of 1
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Gies, Miep, 1909-
Anne Frank remembered: the story of the woman who helped to save the Frank family.
New York:Simon and Schuster, 1987.
252 p.,  p. of plates: ill.;25 cm.
940.5318092G455an General Collection
Gies, Miep, 1909-
Frank, Anne, 1929-1945,
Righteous gentiles in the Holocaust--Netherlands--Amsterdam--Geography.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Netherlands--Amsterdam.
Amsterdam (Netherlands)--Ethnic relations.
Gold, Alison Leslie.
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In the record above, "Frank, Anne" is listed in a subject field. This is because the book is about her, not written by her.
If you have an English assignment to read books by a particular author, you enter the author's last name, then the first name and limit your search to the author field. If, however, you are supposed to find critical works or commentary about the author, you enter the name, but you limit your search to the subject heading field.
Whenever you do a search, you have the option of limiting your search to a particular field. The searchable fields are:
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