Navigating the Library System and OskiCat

U.C. Berkeley’s library is not to be underestimated. Our library boasts a collection of 12.1 million volumes. The numerous volumes make traversing the libraries difficult. In addition, the libraries are not centralized in one single location. With 27 branches, students can access libraries from various locations throughout campus, but it makes finding that perfect book for a research paper or project undeniably arduous.

Now, you might ask: “How do I traverse the library system efficiently?” Worry not! Berkeley has already created a solution for this exact issue: OskiCat.

For any Berkeley veterans, OskiCat is either your best friend or your worst enemy. Or for any incoming freshmen or transfers, OskiCat is a stranger. Admittingly, OskiCat can be difficult maneuver without extra guidance.

Upon entering the U.C. Berkeley’s Library website (http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/), you see the words “Start Your Search.” On the surface, it seems simple. Just put in a few keywords right? That is one approach, but there is a way to refine your search. Under that search bar, it lists OskiCat and Melvyl. There is an important distinction between the two. OskiCat searches for texts only within Berkeley’s library system. Melvyl searches through all of the U.C. libraries, so you have more resources at the tip your fingers. The only downside with Melvyl is if you decide to borrow a physical copy of a book. This process usually takes a week or so to reach Berkeley.

For most, OskiCat can be more beneficial because of its focus on Berkeley libraries. Clicking on the OskiCat link takes you to another quick search. Here, you can type in keywords, subjects, author last names, and series. The more useful is the bar with “Entire Collection.” Let’s say you were looking for a physical copy of a book for your class. After a few initial searches, you keep finding electronic books or other online sources that do not match these criteria. If you drop down on that bar, you have the option to limit the sources you are finding.

If you want more control over the results, I would recommend “Advanced Search.” If you are searching for a peer-reviewed journal, films, or any source in other languages, the advanced search option can shorten your process.

Furthermore, you can check these books out and have the library send it to a library of your choice! If you live on the south side of campus, for instance, you would want to pick the up at the Anthropology Library. Unfortunately, this also takes a few days to process and deliver. If you are in a hurry, I would recommend heading to the library directly.

If you ever need more assistance, the U.C. Berkeley Library website has a tab labeled “Research Support” which has the librarians’ guides for specific majors and classes. Don’t ever hesitate to ask the librarians in person for more help!