Updated Oct. 16, 2015.
Library catalogs provide information about the books, documents, videos, and journals that a library owns. They link to selected free and commercial online resources, too.
Sometimes you use a catalog to find a source you already know – you just want to find out whether this library owns it, where it is located, and if it is already checked out.
At other times, you use a catalog to find books and other materials on a topic you are researching – you want to find out what is available, in this or other libraries.
Library catalog provide several ways for you to locate useful sources, including searching by:
- names of authors, editors, and compilers
- titles of books, government reports, journals and other periodicals, and other sources
- keywords and subject terms
Traditional library catalogs did not index individual articles within journals, but many modern catalogs do. They won't necessarily provide a comprehensive list of all relevant articles, but they will give you a preliminary list.
Finally, many libraries own material that are not described in their catalogs. Always consult a reference librarian for assistance if you cannot find an item in the catalog.
The Gallagher Law Library catalog only includes material in the Law Library. All of the material held by other libraries on campus (and at the University of Washington campuses in Bothell and Tacoma) appear in the UW Libraries catalog.
Combined catalogs bring together records from many libraries. Some of these permit faculty, students, and staff of the participating institutions to directly request and borrow books from other participating libraries. For instance, a UW School of Law student who is looking for a book that is not owned by the Gallagher Law Library could search the new combined catalog and request a book that is owned by the University of Oregon Law Library. The requested book is delivered to the Gallagher Law Library where the student would pick it up.
The new combined catalog launched in late June 2013 and it now includes records for all UW Libraries (including the libraries in Bothell and Tacoma) and more than 30 college and university libraries in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.
Click on the Search Help link on the navigation bar in the Advanced Search for information search tips.
Many libraries in Washington State are not part of the combined catalog. The Washington State Library sponsors Wayfinder, a catalog that includes records from more than 250 public, academic, government, law, medical, corporate, special and tribal libraries in the state. You can search the same database at another site.
Most other publicly accessible libraries make their catalogs freely available on the Internet, including:
- King County Library System
- Public Law Library of King County
- Seattle Public Library
- Washington State Law Library
- Washington State Library
- Library of Congress
See the Gallagher guide on Law Libraries in Washington State and the U.S. for additional sources, including websites with links to academic, public, and other libraries and library catalogs around the country and around the world.
WorldCat.org is a free online catalog with millions of items held by libraries around the world. You might use this catalog if your search for a particular item or topic has been unsuccessful in the combined catalog.
Note that you cannot request items directly through WorldCat. If you identify an item that you would like to borrow, open a new browser window and visit the Law Library's Interlibrary Loan page. Review the policies and then click on the Request Form link. Note: This service is available only to UW Law faculty, staff, and currently enrolled students.