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WRIT 120: Hip Hop Culture and the Poetics of Place

Catalyst: The Library Catalog

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

The Catalyst search interface appears directly on the library's homepage. 

Screenshot of the Catalyst search interface

Keyword Searching

The fastest way to search Catalyst is with a Keyword search.  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: hip-hop
  • Keywords can be a person's name: Tupac Shakur

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 option. This will let you control many more parameters than simply keyword-googling your search terms.

Screenshot of the Catalyst search interface; the button for "Advanced Search" is marked.

The Advanced Search interface will let you pre-set the kind of material you want -- use the buttons along the top.

Screenshot of Catalyst's advanced search interface.

Advanced Search also lets you look for individual authors, titles, or subjects. Subject searches are especially effective, because instead of giving you every result that happens to mention "hip-hop" (or whatever your search term was), it only returns results that are tagged as having "hip-hop" as the main topic.

Subject searches require specific phrases, called headings. The best way to find a good subject heading is to click into a record for an item you think will be useful, and look for the Subject section. The subject headings are hyperlinks -- click them to search Catalyst for all the other items tagged with that subject. 

The record below shows the subject heading for Tupac Shakur. Clicking that link will bring up every item tagged with "Shakur, Tupac, 1971-1996" as a main subject.

Screenshot of the catalog details for a biography of Tupac Shakur. The subject headings are marked in red.

Some useful subject headings for hip-hop research include:

You can also use Advanced Search to combine subjects.  For example, subject searching "graffiti" alone will bring up results from all time periods -- even the Vikings had graffiti! Run a subject search on "graffiti" AND "hip-hop" together to limit your results to tagging.

screenshot of a Catalyst subject search with search lines for both "graffiti" and "hip-hop"