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Writing 120C: Climate Change and the Arts

A research guide for artistic responses to climate change

Catalyst: The Library Catalog

You can find most library materials, including books, recordings, and many articles, using Catalyst, our online catalog.  You can find both physical and electronic resources in Catalyst.

Screenshot of the Catalyst search interface on the library hompage


Keyword Searching

The fastest way to search Catalyst is with a Keyword search right on the Library homepage.  A keyword search essentially googles the entire catalog to see what comes up. Catalyst defaults to a keyword search unless you use the drop-down settings to specifically look for authors, titles, or other parameters.

  • Keywords can be general terms: climate change
  • Keywords can be a person's name: Aldo Leopold
  • Keywords can be the title of a work of art: Antarctic Symphony

The advantage of a keyword search is that you are casting the widest possible net to get the most possible results. This is a great way to see what kind of material is available.

The disadvantage is that you will likely get many results that aren't useful to your project.

Advanced Searching

If you want more control over your results, click the Advanced Search button. An advanced search will let you control many more parameters than a keyword search.

Screenshot of the Catalyst search interface. The advanced search button is marked in red.

An advanced search will let you choose the kind of material you want, either by using the buttons across the top or the material type dropdown menu on the left.  The buttons offer slightly different options from the dropdown menu.  Here, I've set the material type dropdown menu to look for scores (printed music).

Screenshot of the Catalyst advanced search interface. The material type dropdown menu is set to scores.

Advanced searches will also let you look for specific authors, titles, or subjects. Subject searches are especially effective. Instead of giving you every result that happens to mention "anthropocene" (or whatever your search term is), Catalyst will now give you only those results where a librarian has tagged "anthropocene" as the overarching topic of that resource.

For example, keyword searching "anthropocene" gives me almost 22,000 results. Subject searching "anthropocene" drops that list to 7,500.

Here's a subject search for "anthropocene." I used the field dropdown menus to change the first search parameter from "any field" to "subject."

Screenshot of the Advanced Search interface in Catalyst. The search is set to "subject contains anthropocene."

If you find a really good resource, it's a good idea to click into the record and scroll down to the Details section to see what subjects have been assigned. Those subjects are hyperlinked -- if you click one, it'll pull up a list of everything else we have that is tagged with that subject.

Here are the details for a book about art in the Anthropocene.  It looks like human ecology in art might also be a good subject to search!

Screenshot of the Catalyst record for a book called Art in the Anthropocene.  The subject heading "human ecology in art" is marked in red.

You can also use the Advanced Search option to combine different kinds of search terms. This is very useful for interdisciplinary research that combines science and the arts. Useful search terms to combine include:

  • Environmentalism
  • Anthropocene
  • "Climatic changes" -- use the quotation marks to search this as a phrase
  • "Climate change" -- use the quotation marks to search this as a phrase
  • Climatology
  • Painting
  • Sculpture
  • Literature
  • Poetry
  • Drama
  • Music
  • Opera 

For example, here's a search for poetry on environmental themes.

Screenshot of a Catalyst advanced search for "subject contains environmentalism AND subject contains poetry."