Books and the OPAC

SMC Library uses a web-based Online Public Access Catalog, or OPAC, to inform users about the books and other materials in the Library's collections, and to tell where these materials are located.

The Library provides computer workstations that allow users to search online for materials such as books and periodical titles through the catalog, periodical articles through the databases, and Internet documents through the World Wide Web. Users need to access the Library Home Page, which displays gateway access points for performing these searches. 
Starting from the Library Home Page, follow basic instructions for using the Library Catalog as well as others onscreen to find out which books, periodical and media titles that the SMC Library owns, as well as to locate reserve materials set aside by instructors for their classes. 

Analyzing OPAC Records 

To search for and retrieve materials efficiently, Library users should be able to identify and understand component parts of records found through the SMC Library OPAC. 

A typical SMC Library OPAC record is illustrated below, with identification/explanation of its components following. Use the identifications and explanations provided below the record as a guide to answer the questions in Quiz 2.

QR41.2 .T67 2001
Microbiology : an introduction
Tortora, Gerard J.

Personal Author: Tortora, Gerard J.
Title: Microbiology : an introduction / Gerard J. Tortora, Berdell R. Funke, Christine L. Case.
Edition: 7th ed.
Publication info: San Francisco : Benjamin Cummings, c2001.
Physical descrip: xxiv, 887 p. : ill. (chiefly col.) ; 29 cm.
General Note: Includes index.
Held by: MAIN
Subject term: Microbiology.
Added author: Funke, Berdell R.
Added author: Case, Christine L., 1948-

Copy Holds Location
Call Numbers for: MAIN
1) QR41.2 .T67 2001 1 NONE RESERVES
desk:RESERVES / circ rule:RESRV_2HR
desk:RESERVES / circ rule:RESRV_2HR

Call Number of the Book: QR41.2.T67 2001

Indicates the LC subject/identification code for the book

Personal Author(s): Gerard J. Tortora, Berdell R. Funke, Christine L. Case 

Gives the names of the person(s) who wrote the book.

Title: Microbiology: An Introduction

The name of the book. 

Edition of the book: 7th ed.

Indicates how many times the original text of this specific book was revised or updated, up to and including this specific edition; and which  revision or update this particular book represents.

Publication Info: San Francisco, Benjamin Cummings, c2001

Tells the city where the book was published; the name of the publisher of the book; and the copyright date of the book 

Physical Description of the book: xxiv, 887p.: ill. (chiefly col); 29cm

Describes the number of preliminary pages (xxiv); of text pages (887); illustrations (chiefly illustrations in color); and height of the book (29 centimeters)

Held by: MAIN  

Indicates the building where the book is kept: i.e., the SMC Library building 

Subject term: Microbiology

Gives the subject of the book and the subject heading under which this book can be found in the OPAC

Added Author: Funke, Berdell R., and Case, Christine L.

Gives the names of other persons who co-wrote the book

Copy: 1 and 2 

Indicates how many copies of the book the Library owns and locating information for each copy

Holds: NONE

Tells whether there has been a formal request by a Library user to hold a checked-out book for that user when it is returned; and also tells how many hold requests have been made. "NONE" means that no requests for holds have been made for the book, so it should be available. 

Location:  RESERVES

Tells whether the book is in the Stacks, Reference, or Reserves sections of the MAIN library building. If the book was checked out, the due date would be given instead of a location


Indicates that the book must be asked for at the reserves/circulation desk, not looked for in reference or stacks areas.  

circ rule: RESRV_2HR

Indicates the SMC Library circulation rule for regular reserves items: they may only be checked out for two hours use in the Library

Examine the OPAC record above to analyze, recognize, and define some common components of an OPAC record.  Use the analysis of the OPAC record above as a guide to help you answer questions about another OPAC record in the following quiz: 

Click Here for Quiz 2: Analyzing OPAC Records  

Finding a Book on the Shelf

As discussed before, books in the SMC Library are classified (i.e. described and arranged by subject and identification number) according to the Library of Congress Classification System (LC). It was started by the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, and is used by many other libraries. (Many libraries, especially public libraries, use the second major classification system, the Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDC), which uses numbers to indicate the subjects.)

LC uses the letters of the alphabet to indicate the broad subjects of books. For example, "B" stands for subjects in philosophy and religion. Most science books fall under "Q". Letters, combined with other subject numbers and author codes, make up the call numbers for books. The call number identifies and describes the book, and indicates where it is shelved. You can search for books by using the OPAC and following the directions onscreen, and on previous pages. 

When you find a book you want, write down its call number. If it is available and located in the stacks, go to the book area called the Stacks that begin just after the Reference works near the reference desk and continue, in call number order, to the area opposite the circulation desk. Go to the area where the first letter of the call number that you want appears; then follow the call number letter by letter, number by number, etc., until you have found the book with exactly that number on its spine. 
Consult the summary of instructions for using the Library catalog for a listing of steps to follow when searching for information in the SMC Library OPAC.


When writing research papers and other course assignments, you may need to find periodical articles as well as (or instead of) books for relevant information. Periodicals contain more recent and up-to-date information than books, although the information may not always be 100% accurate.
Periodicals are magazines, journals, and newspapers. They are called "periodicals" because they are published at regular periods -- such as every day, every week, or every month -- instead of just once, like most books. Some periodicals, especially journals, can be published every three or four months or even just once or twice a year. 
Magazines are general-interest or special-interest publications meant for the average reader. They are usually glossy and contain articles, stories, poems, illustrations, advertisements, etc. Magazines are sometimes dedicated to one subject only, such as fashion or automobiles. Some examples of magazines are: Time, Newsweek, Good Housekeeping, Vogue, Discover, Omni, and Car and Driver

Journals are periodicals containing articles on specific subjects usually written for (and by) scholars and professionals in fields such as medicine, literature, law, music, etc. The word "journal" may or may not appear in the title of the publication. Articles in journals generally contain the results or description of research or critical analysis. Some examples of journals are: JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), College English, and American Journal of Botany.

Newspapers usually are published every day or week and contain the news of the day or time period covered; commentary; feature articles; and advertising. Some examples are the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Sentinel, and the New York Times.

Periodical Indexes and SMC Library Periodical Resources

To use periodicals in library research, you need several reference tools. The first such helper is an index. This specific type of index tells researchers exactly which periodical issues contain articles on chosen subjects. The General Science Index (GSI), a book/print index found in many libraries, is this type of resource. GSI only contains article listings on science topics. Since it only deals with one subject area, it is called a subject index. Other indexes, such as The Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature, contain citations covering articles on many subjects, not on one subject alone. These types of indexes are called general indexes.

Listed under each subject heading in a print index, or in a result list from an electronic one, will be all of the articles entered on the subject searched, which came out during the time period covered by the index. The articles could come from any of the periodicals included by the index publishers. 

Most of SMC Library's print indexes are kept behind the circulation desk Each of them usually lets the user know which magazines, newspapers, or journals it includes by placing a list of the periodicals in the front pages of each volume. An important exception, however, is Biological Abstracts, published by BIOSIS, which prints its list of indexed periodicals in a separate book entitled Serial Sources for the BIOSIS Previews Database. Electronic indexes usually print their list in a separate file or hardcopy list; some are accessible to searchers and some are not. Ebscohost does allow users to browse their list of included periodicals. 
The second reference helper that might be needed to locate periodical articles in SMC Library is the Santa Monica College Library Periodical Holdings List. This list is found in the OPAC, and also in red 3-ring binders near the reference computer workstations and the circulation desk areas. Look up a needed periodical alphabetically by its title and the list will indicate whether the SMC Library subscribes to the periodical. It also specifies which dates of the periodical the Library owns. Additionally, it indicates which issues are stored in the bound or unbound periodicals area behind the circulation desk, and which issues are stored on microfilm or microfiche in cabinets near the reference area. You will need proof of current enrollment, such as your student identification card, to ask for periodicals from the bound or unbound periodicals area, but you can go directly to the microform periodical issues (which must be read on special machines nearby).

The Santa Monica College Library Periodical Holdings List 

The computer catalog, or OPAC, tells us which books the library owns. It also tells us which periodicals and other materials the library owns. To search the OPAC to see if the Library subscribes to a specific periodical, click the Library Catalog on the Library Home Page. Type the title of the periodical" (e.g. Newsweek) in the search box, and click the "Periodical Titles" button below the search box.  

The Periodical Holdings List is another tool that tells Library users which periodicals the Library subscribes to; it is often handier to use than the computer catalog listings. However, although the information contained in the print List comes from the computer records, the OPAC offers more updated information about the periodicals. 

Copies of the List, in red 3-ring binders, may be found at the circulation desk, near the computer workstations and tables, and in print-index and reference areas. It is updated at regular intervals. 

All magazines, newspapers, and journals to which the SMC Library subscribes are listed alphabetically by title in the printed List

The List also tells which dates of the periodicals are owned by the Library, and where the back issues of each periodical are kept: bound periodicals and unbound periodicals (single, loose issues) are kept behind the periodicals/circulation desk; and many periodical back issues are stored on microfilm or microfiche in cabinets in the reference area. 

Using the Periodical Holdings List 

If you need to know if the Library subscribes to a certain periodical (Newsweek magazine, for example), you would look in the printed List alphabetically under the title of the periodical (in the "N" section for Newsweek) and it would indicate which dates of this magazine the Library holds, and which issues were bound, unbound, on microfilm or on microfiche. 

If a periodical title does not appear in the List, then the SMC Library does not subscribe to it. 

When you locate an article you want, especially after using a print index or abstract, your next step is to check our List to see if the Library has the periodical containing the needed article. If the Library subscribes to the periodical, then you must go to the correct area where it is kept to retrieve it. Click the following connection for more details on steps to finding periodical articles in the SMC Library

Review the section above and prior sections, if applicable. Then: 

Click Here for Quiz 2A: Books, Periodicals, and Periodical Indexes

Print Index Citations: General Science Index

Although electronic databases predominate in contemporary library research, there are times when it is preferable or mandatory to use a print index, especially to find information older than a few years. 

The following example from The General Science Index provides practice in analyzing a citation from a print index. Components of the citation are explained in the list following the citation. Try to match visually each component part of the analyzed entry with the definitions and components of each part of the entry, which appear below the record. Then, use the descriptions as a model to help you answer questions about another General Science Index entry, which appears in Quiz 2B.


See also Auditory perception

Auditory interneurones in the metathoracic ganglion of the grasshopper Chorthippus biguttulus [two-year research project ]. A. Stumpner and B. Ronacher. bibl il J Exp Biol  v158 p391-410 Jl '91


Subject Heading : Hearing 

What the article is about.

Cross Reference  : See also Auditory perception

Refers the researcher to a related subject heading within the same index volume, where other related articles can be found.

Title of the Article: Auditory interneurones in the metathoracic ganglion of the grasshopper Chorthippus biguttulus 

The name of the article

Informational Note: [two-year research project ]

A note of additional information about the article that explains, summarizes, or characterizes the article 

Author(s) of the Article: A. Stumpner and B. Ronacher

Name(s) of the person(s) that wrote the article

 Informational Note: bibl

A note of additional information about the article; in this case the abbreviation "bibl" means that the article contains a  bibliography

Informational Note:  il 

A  note of additional information about the article; in this case the abbreviation "il" means that the article contains  illustrations

Title of the Periodical (abbreviated): J Exp Biol  

The name of the journal/periodical in which the article appears; in this case an abbreviation for the Journal of Experimental Biology

 (Title abbreviations are spelled out in the front section of each volume of General Science Index)

Volume Number of the Periodical : v158 

The volume number of the periodical.

Page Number(s) of the Article: p391-410 

The specific page numbers where the specific article will be found.

Date of the Periodical: Jl '91

The date when the periodical issue was published; in this case an abbreviation for the date July 1991.

Examine the analyzed citation above from General Science Index. Use it as a generic model to help answer questions about another entry which appears in Quiz 2B, accessed below:

Click Here for Quiz 2B: Print Index Citations General Science Index