MeLCat Help

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Introduction to MeLCat

MeLCat is an online catalog service that allows patrons of participating libraries to borrow materials - books, movies, music, and more - from all over the state and have them delivered to their home library. This page will help you to locate materials more easily and answer common questions.

Table of Contents

MeLCat Participation

Participants

To see if your library participates in MeLCat, check the Participating Libraries page. If your library is not listed, contact your library to see if they expect to participate in the future. Michigan libraries are being added to MeLCat regularly. If your library does not participate in MeLCat and you would like to borrow an item you find in MeLCat, contact your home library for help in getting a copy. If you plan to visit a library to use the item there, contact that library for hours and policies before you go.

The Visiting Patron Service

If your library participates in the MeLCat Visiting Patron Service, you may go to another library that also participates in this service and check out available eligible materials in person. To see if your library participates in the Visiting Patron service, check the Participating Libraries page. When you bring the materials to their check-out desk, they will use your home library card to check them out to you. Be sure to have a picture ID with you, as well as your library card.

These materials will be listed on your MyMeLCat account for you to check on the due dates and request renewals. You may return those items to either your home library or the library from which you checked them out.

Requesting

Requesting an Item

You may place a request from a search results list or from an individual record display. Simply click on the "Get This For Me!" or "Get this from MeLCat" button or link. The system will present you with a list of participating libraries; select your home library. Enter your name and your library card/account number. (Some libraries will also require you to enter your PIN number.) If your library offers multiple pickup locations, you will also need to select one from the list. Click on "Submit" and the request is placed!

Requesting Multiple Books at One Time

Materials on MeLCat must be ordered one at a time - there is not currently a method to put books in a "shopping cart" or other holding area and request them all at once.

MeLCat Loan Policies

MeLCat loans for most materials are for 21 days. If no local holds are placed on the material, you may renew for an additional 21 days. Books may be renewed within one week (7 days) before their due date. Videos and some other materials may not be eligible for renewal as there is also a 7 day short load period, which is not renewable. Depending on your home library's policies, you may not be able to borrow audio-visual materials. To renew items, go to your MyMeLCat record. Overdue MeLCat materials cannot be renewed via MyMeLCat. View the full MeLCat policies.

Please note that not all materials included in MeLCat are requestable. Each participating library decides which of its materials it will loan via MeLCat. If the material you want is not requestable, you may be able to use the material by visiting the library in person. Be sure to call ahead to be certain that the material you want will be available.

Eligible patrons will be allowed to have up to 50 active MeLCat requests at a time. MeLCat requests are active from the time they are made until the requested items have been returned to the lending libraries or until they are canceled.

Materials with a status of available in the patron's home library will not be requestable through MeLCat.

Audio-visual Borrowing Policies

If you are attempting to borrow audio-visual materials such as books on CD or DVDs you may receive the error message "Sorry, MeLCat policy does not allow your request. Please contact your home library for assistance." Participating libraries are required to make their circulating book collections available for loan. Special collections, including audio-visual collections, may be made available at the discretion of the lending library. Participating libraries that wish to borrow audio-visual materials must make some portion of their locally circulating audio-visual collection available. Libraries with no locally circulating or otherwise restricted audio-visual collections may apply for a waiver of this requirement. Libraries are encouraged to be generous about lending their circulating materials.

Library patrons should contact their home library with any questions about the choice their library has made regarding audio-visual lending/borrowing via MeLCat. To see if your library allows for the borrowing of for audio-visual materials, check the Participating Libraries page.

Error Message Decoder

Message: Sorry, MeLCat policy does not allow your request. Please contact your home library for assistance.

The only libraries with available copies are not live for lending at this time or have local holds on those available items. It could also be that the patron category assigned to your record does not allow the request. Contact your home library.

Message: Sorry, there is a problem with your patron record at your home library. Please contact your home library to resolve this problem.

There may be a problem with your record. Contact your home library.

Message: Sorry, you cannot use MeLCat to request items that are available at your home library.

MeLCat knows that your local library already owns this item and that it is not checked out. MeLCat policy only permits borrowing of materials not available at your local library.

Message: Sorry, your ID number is not valid for MeLCat requesting. Please try again or contact your home library to resolve this problem.

The number you entered to identify yourself was not found in the library's database. You may have chosen the wrong library from the list or mistyped your barcode/library card number. Click on "Regular Display" to go back to the record and click "Get this for me!" again. Then, try retyping your patron number. Contact your home library.

Sorry, your MeLCat request cannot be processed. Data in your patron record at your home library is incomplete. Please contact your home library to resolve this problem.

The number you entered to identify yourself was not found in the library's database. You may have chosen the wrong library from the list or mistyped your barcode/library card number. Click on "Regular Display" to go back to the record and click "Get this for me!" again. Then, try retyping your patron number. Contact your home library.

Message: Unable to place your request. Please try again or contact your library for assistance.

There may be a problem with your local system's connectivity to MeLCat. Contact your home library.

Message: Your patron id has been blocked

Your account is blocked on your local system. Contact your home library.

eBooks

eBooks that appear in the MeLCat catalog may only be accessible to patrons of that particular participating MeLCat library.

MyMeLCat - Your MeLCat Record

To view your MeLCat patron record, go to the MyMeLCat page, then select your library from the list of participating libraries and enter in the required information. From your record, you can check the status of your requests, cancel requests, and renew MeLCat materials. Overdue MeLCat materials cannot be renewed via MyMeLCat.

Searching

General Search Hints

  • MeLCat is not case-sensitive. (E.g., a search for "South Africa" is the same as a search for "south africa".)
  • You can omit most punctuation. (E.g., a search for "earths children" is the same as a search for "earth's children".)
  • Numbers may need to be spelled out.
  • In Classic MeLCat, if you are unsuccessful using the phrase searches (title, author, series title, the various types of subject searches), try entering your terms as a keyword search.
  • Each participating MeLCat library has a unique agency code. If you would like to find the holdings of a specific MeLCat library, include that library's agency code in a keyword search, (E.g., "Michigan zv100".) Note that MeLCat may not reflect a library's full holdings.

Locating materials in Large Print, Audio/Video Format, and Braille

MeLCat libraries agree to make their circulating book collections available for loan; however, it is each library's decision whether or not to make special collections, including audio-visual collections like CDs and DVDs, available for MeLCat. Libraries are encouraged to be as generous as they can about lending their audio-visual collections, but it is a local decision.

A variety of strategies can be used to find materials in audio/video format and in large print. Note, though, that none of these methods will individually retrieve all such materials.

  • To find audiobooks or other sound recordings in MeLCat, Search Encore MeLCat for a title, author, or keyword and use the "Format facet" (under "Refine by:") to select either "Audiobooks" or "Music Recordings."
  • To find large print books in MeLCat, keyword search (large type books) or (large print) You can also add other words to the search: grisham large print.
  • To find DVDs in MeLCat, keyword search wrinkle in time dvd.
  • To find Braille materials in MeLCat, keyword search in the title field for the word Braille in Classic MeLCat.
  • Individuals who are blind or visually impaired may also be interested in digitally formatted books and/or Braille service. Digital books are available via download or they can be sent in cartridge format through the mail to the homes of eligible patrons. Braille is also available through the mail. This service is made possible through a statewide network of cooperating libraries, a part of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. These books are not in MeLCat. For more information contact the Braille and Talking Book Library.

Searching in Encore MeLCat

You may enter in a subject, title, author, ISBN or keyword, anything at all, really. After a seach is completed, you can use the facets on the left hand side under "Refine by:" to further narrow down your search. Facets include:

  • Found in MeLCat
  • Format
  • Language
  • Subject
  • Location
  • Year Published

Facets can be expanded by clicking on the '+' icon next to each facet. Once explanded, click on any of the terms to further narrow down your search.

Search Results Message Decoder

No catalog results found. Did you mean: finland?

Try confirming the spelling of your search words or using other words. You can also click on the "Did you mean" term to search that term instead.

Saving and Emailing Search Results

Saving Records

  • Under "Additional Actions:" for each search result, click on the "Add to my list" icon to add the item to the list.
  • Click on "My List" in the upper right to view your list results. Alternately, you can click on "view my list" after an item is added to your list.
  • Click on the checkbox next to the item and click on "Remove from my list" to remove an item from your list. Alternately, you can click on "remove" next to each item to remove it from your list.
  • Note: Records are only saved per session.

Emailing Records

  • Under "Additional Actions:" for each result, click on the "Email" icon to email yourself a brief description of the item.

Searching in Classic MeLCat

Basic Searches

Title

Type as much of the title as you want, beginning with the first words. Omit initial articles (e.g., The, A, An). MARC fields/subfields included in this index: title, alternate titles, former titles, uniform titles, and series titles. Title subfields from other fields are also indexed. Examples:

  • I know why the caged bird
  • I know why
  • Taming of the Shrew

Author

Type the author you want to find, last name first. You may also type the name of a composer, performer, organization, or governmental body. MARC fields/subfields included in this index: personal names, corporate names, and meeting names. Author subfields from other fields are also indexed. Examples:

  • angelou, m
  • beatles
  • gibbons, kaye
  • michigan governor
  • american medical association

Keyword

Type the keyword(s) you wish to find. The system will interpret the words as a phrase unless you separate them with connectors: "and," "or," "and not" or "near." MARC fields/subfields included in keyword searches: all fields included in the phrase indexes (titles, authors, series titles, subjects), most note fields, and publisher. Examples:

  • finland
  • travel

Series Title

Type as much of the series title as you want, beginning with the first words. MARC fields/subfields included in this index: traced and untraced series titles and series added entries. Examples:

  • Series of unfortunate events
  • hitchhiker
  • earths children

Other Searches Available

Government Document Number

Type the U.S. government document (i.e., Superintendent of Documents) number you want to find. The use of spaces and punctuation is very important in these searches. Examples:

  • prex 1.2:AR 2
  • I 29.2:b 14/3

ISBN/ISSN

Type the ISBN or ISSN you want to find. Punctuation and spaces can be omitted. Examples:

  • 0060254904
  • 0034-0375
  • 00340375

OCLC Number

Type the OCLC number you want to find. Examples:

  • 45207913
  • 9962097

Note: Although this search is labeled "OCLC Number," it is more accurate to state that it searches the contents of the 001 field in the bibliographic record. The contents of this field is, in most instances, an OCLC number. However, libraries sometimes store other information in that field.

Other Standard Numbers

Type the number as it appears. Some types of standard numbers require the use of hyphens and other punctuation symbols; other types of standard numbers permit you to omit punctuation and spaces. Examples:

  • LCCN (e.g., 00046024)
  • Patent control numbers (e.g., 93-10007)
  • Publisher numbers (e.g., MPC3-CD) (You must remove the hyphens. E.g., MPC3-CD is entered as mpc3cd.)
  • GPO item numbers (You must remove the hyphens. E.g., 429-T-4 is entered as 429T4)

Other types of numbers are also included in this index. These include study numbers (MARC tag 036), source of acquisition (MARC tag 037), other standard identifiers (MARC tag 024), and technical report numbers (MARC tags 027 and 088).

Subject Headings

Subject searches use specific, controlled vocabulary for describing Library material. If you do not find what you are looking for in the subject index, try a keyword search or ask a Librarian for assistance.

  • The Library of Congress Authorities Database is also available online; it is, however, designed for use by library staff and may not be very helpful to others.
  • Online access to the MeSH Thesaurus, is available from the National Library of Medicine.
  • Children's subject headings are assigned to materials intended for children up through the age of 15 (9th grade).

Library of Congress (LC) Subject Headings

Type the Library of Congress subject heading you want to find. Examples:

  • children's rights
  • motion pictures
  • United States History Civil War, 1861-1865

Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)

Type as much or as little of the medical subject you want to find. Examples:

  • neoplasms
  • diabetic retinopathy

Children's Subject Headings

Type as much or as little of the children's subject heading you want to find. Examples:

  • Skeleton
  • ponies equipment and supplies

Search Results Message Decoder

Message: Your entry bysons would be here.

The system was unable to find a record matching the information you entered. In an attempt to help you in identifying the cause of this lack of results, the system puts you in a browse screen where your entry would have appeared.

Check to be sure you chose the correct index and typed your entry correctly.

Message: Tried (icelandic cooking) no records found. . .  Your search query has been changed. . . Tried: (icelandic and cooking) 1 result found.

The system assumes that words entered into a keyword search should be treated as a phrase. In the event that it is unable to find any records with the phrase you entered, the system places the word "and" between each of the search terms you entered. If it is still unable to retrieve any records, it will automatically place an "or" between the search terms. Check to be sure you typed your entry correctly.

Message: Your entry falling liberty would be here -- Search as Words

If a title search fails to retrieve any hits, the system offers the option to convert the search from a title search to a keyword search. Click on "Search as Words" to execute the search. You might also check to be sure you typed your entry correctly.

Saving, Exporting, and Printing Search Results

Save, Export, and Print Records

  • Use the checkboxes to select the records you would like to save from the results list.
  • Click "Save Marked Records." You can also click on the "Save All" button to save all the records on the screen.
  • Click on "View Saved" to view saved records.
  • Using the radio buttons on the left side of the screen, choose your preferred format.
  • Using the radio buttons on the right side of the screen, choose the export destination.
  • Click "Submit."
  • Note: Records are only saved per session.

If you want to print your saved records, choose "Screen" under the "Send List To" column, click on "Submit," then, use your browser's print option to print the file.

Clear Saved Records

  • To clear all your saved records, click the "Clear Saved Records "button.
  • To clear selected saved records, click "View Saved."
  • Use the checkboxes to select the records you no longer want to save.
  • Click "Delete Selected."

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Additional funding is provided by the State of Michigan and the Library of Michigan Foundation.

Library of Michigan Institute of Museum and Library Services Michigan Department of Education