Reflections on the new library website; Primo vs Google Scholar; and where is the Classic Catalog?

If you are finding the new library web site disorienting, check out the video tour. Please ask me or ask us if you can’t find what you need. Feedback continues to be welcome.

Primo is very prominent on the new library web site; “Search Library Collections with Primo” is the first link on the page! Primo is a search tool with a lot of great content (including Classic Catalog items) and several nice filtering features. This Primo tutorial may help. There is also a growing Primo FAQ.

Because Primo is so prominent, one question I hear a lot is “where is the Classic Catalog?” Don’t worry; it is available and will NOT go away. There are lots of ways to find it on the new library web site. One route is the My Catalog link on the Services menu. Classic Catalog is still very prominent on most Research Guides. The Classic Catalog is more efficient than Primo (in my opinion) for searching a known book or journal title to see if the library has it. Although often Becker Medical Library Catalog and Mobius catalog are worth searching also.

It is challenging to know exactly what Primo is searching and what it is not. In my opinion, it is a useful black box, like Google Scholar, only with more filters readily available. (Google Scholar has some nice filters available too in its Advanced search.) Here are a few things to be aware of:

  • While Primo does include a lot of content from PubMed it does not seem to be updated as quickly and does not include “Epub ahead of print” citations
  • You can find many math articles, books and book chapters in Primo, but arXiv and MathSciNet are NOT being searched
  • After you run a search the Collection/Source filters on the left side will help you identify what sources delivered items
  • Primo does not include Becker Medical Library catalog, MOBIUS catalog or several WU Special Collections databases
  • Other Known Issues with Primo

I recommend you try Primo and compare with the your disciplines’ specialized tools which continue to be available from the library, such as those in Databases A-Z. Use the tools that work best for you.

The other tip about the web site I want to share is the site search box, because I find it useful and tricky to find; you need to know to click on the magnifying glass icon, next to the Ask Us menu for the site search box.

About the author

Ruth is a librarian at Washington University for biology, math, history of science; she is also scholarly communications coordinator. Email: rlewis@wustl.edu Phone: 314-935-4819