What's in that Catalog?
Here are a few tricks to help you determine how complete an online library catalog is:

  1. Do a search on the word genealogy. Do this only to see what comes up in a general, not specific, search. Look to see if the results include only books or if the entries also include microfilm and periodicals.
  2. Investigate the library catalog site. Does it have separate buttons or options for periodicals, media and books?
  3. When doing any search, look to see how old the copyright dates are for the volumes that appear in the list of results.
  4. Look for an online help file. If there are limitations to the Web-based catalog, these should be mentioned in the help or frequently asked questions (FAQ) files.

Rhonda McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in New England research and computerized genealogy. She writes about family history for several publications and Web sites, and lectures frequently across the country. This article is excerpted from her latest book, The Genealogist's Computer Companion (Betterway Books, $18.99).

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