How To Find What You Want on the Online Library
Recently, a user described it as "old-fashioned and somewhat hard to find your way around". This was a first. If by "old-fashioned" reference is made to its being noticeably devoid of bells, whistles and frills, it has always been so, since I consider such inappropriate with presentation of textual factual material. But it did prompt me to add this how-to page.
I toyed with different titles. How about "How to Find Things in the Online Library in a "YKWIM" (you know what I mean) Basis"? I find this somewhat difficult to do without sounding like I am writing "O/L Library for Dummies". Sorry 'bout that. This is going to get very elementary. Note: not unexpectedly, these instructions are for a conventional "old fashioned" computer with a keyboard. Those using devices w/o keyboards (including me!) will need to emulate for the device they have chosen to use.
I. All listings are alphabetical as would be the case for a telephone directory or dictionary. If an author's name is known, the work will be listed alphabetically by the author's name. Otherwise, it will be listed alphabetically by title. At the top of the webpage (and 25 other places!) will be an alpha menu that looks like the following. The ones here are for looks only. They will provide you a means to jump from anywhere in the website to anywhere else, and, if in doubt, to go back to its beginning.
If you were looking for McAllister's work on Virginia militia, you should click on M in the above menu, which will take you to the M section. When you get there, you will see another menu that looks like this:
In this menu, you need to click on Mc, and you will be taken to the section in which your desired book will be found if it is present. For the user having difficulty finding his book of choice (a different one), all it would have taken to locate it would have been clicking two keys in this manner.
Bear with me, I told you that this was going to get very elementary.
II. "Back" and "Forward" arrows. All browsers have these arrows at the top of the screen that will (1) take you back to previous locations you have viewed, in order, OR (2) to advance you forward among previously viewed locations. This will work in any website you use, not just the O/LL. On my small tablet, it works much the same way.
III. "Top" menu choices. At the end of the full alphabet menus (see above) found 26 places in the websheet there will be a link titled "Top". Wherever it appears on the O/LL webpage, if clicked, it will take you back to the top (start position) of the webpage. This will also work with touch screen devices.
IV. "Page Down" and "Page Up" keys. You may browze through the full O/LL using these keys, scanning author names and book titles. It takes about 140 "Page down's" to go from start to end of the O/LL. This will work in many programs you use, not just the O/LL. If you use a touch screen device, you will emulate by "touching and dragging".
We are about to ramp up, hang on!
V. Searching with Control-F. The entire O/LL is on a single webpage. Initially, this was to make it appear that it loaded faster than was the actual case. While you are reading the top, you are unaware that the lower part continued to load, minimizing the downside of low band width. It also serves another purpose. While holding down the "Control" key (Command key for Macs), touch the F key. A small box will appear on the screen. Enter your search text in this box and press "Enter". The selection of search terms is a skill in itself and may require multiple tries. Err on the side of "less specific". If found in the surface text of the webpage (not inside the books), the first instance will be highlighted. Pressing the provided up and down arrows will take you to all additional instances. This feature has been provided in most programs ever written for personal computers. Try it in your other programs. Most young people know how to use it. Most of their parents and grandparents (including doctors and lawyers!) do not. Sad but true. Not knowing how to do this was a second cause for the user having difficulty using the O/LL. On my small tablet, I can click on a menu where one of the choices is "search on this page" which works very similarly.
VI. Using a Google search limited to the O/LL, as found in SEARCHES will be of limited usefulness on a website constructed as a single very long webpage as it is, since you will only be taken to the page but not to the specific location. You will be more successful using the Control-F search, above. However, use of searches limited to a single domain has an interesting feature: Click on the small arrow in the return next to any url, then on "Similar"; you will be provided with a useful listing of similar but different sites.
Sorry, there is no YKWIM search for the O/LL! Searching remains more art than science. If it required no effort, they would have called it "finding" rather than searching! [My apology to fishermen for purloining their funny!]
Feel free to suggest your own search tips for the OL/L using the following: