Getting the most out of the State Library of NSW catalogue


… by Lisa Murray, Continuing Professional Development officer at the PHA NSW & ACT

Want to get more out of the State Library of NSW’s single search catalogue? Our members certainly do! Seventeen PHA members attended a two-hour workshop convened especially for professional historians on Thursday 22 February at the State Library of New South Wales.

Over the last 12 months or so, the State Library has been upgrading its catalogue so that you can search across all its collections. Data clean-up and migration is still occurring, so at times it can be tricky to find resources in the new one search catalogue. In addition, the catalogue’s functionality is still being improved (indeed another new feature appeared just last week!). In these times of change, professional historians need to update their skills to understand the catalogue’s search features and functionality so that they can efficiently find resources to support their research and businesses.

The workshop was held in the computer training room in the Marie Bashir Reading Room. Members were ably led through a series of exercises by librarians Andy Carr and Bronwyn Leslie. Handouts were provided to all participants explaining search techniques and new catalogue functionality, as well as step-by-step exercises that can be repeated at home to explore how the catalogue works.

The workshop booked out in a flash and many members missed out. Those who attended said they found the workshop useful, and everyone learned a new tip or two to make the most of their searching, as well as a few work-arounds while the catalogue is still being improved. The PHA and the library have agreed to hold a repeat of the workshop on Thursday 22 March. PHA members will shortly receive an invitation to register for this repeat workshop.

But in the meantime, here are a few tips to make the most of the catalogue.

  • The State Library’s website is now more interactive and can accept comments etc. A separate login is needed for this. Don’t be fooled – you need to login to the catalogue (not the website) to order books.
  • The manuscripts, oral history and picture collections have not yet been fully absorbed into the one search catalogue – that’s why you drill down from the blue one search catalogue into the green catalogue for manuscript, oral history and picture collections.
  • You can now search by archival digital – this only searches the manuscript, oral history and picture collections that have digital or digitised images.
  • Applying articles in your search scope identifies individual articles in newspapers, journals and magazines, many of which you can access full-text online through the library’s e-resources – no more searching separate databases!
  • Login to the catalogue to search and collate items by pinning – you can then go back and decide which ones you want to order at the end of your searching.
  • The old card catalogue from the GRL is no long available from the State Library website but is still published online. A google search for SLNSW scanned card catalogue will bring it up:
  • Remember the old card index in the manuscripts area? This has now been added to the manuscripts, oral history and pictures catalogue (green catalogue) – tick Manuscript index to include this in your search.
  • Use the filters on the right-hand side to quickly understand the different formats available and drill down to the results you are interested in.
  • The one search catalogue is now the best way to find small picture file items (rather than the green manuscript, oral history and picture collections catalogue).
  • You can keep up to date with issues and improvements to the catalogue on the state library website:

1 thought on “Getting the most out of the State Library of NSW catalogue”

  1. Thanks Lisa – some good updates on the process there. I know that the Library are taking the upgrade (and its problems) seriously, so it’s good to hear what’s been added. I still make sure I rifle through the old card catalogue, though, just in case! 🙂

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