Canadian Genealogy

Using Online Library Catalogues in your Research

by Lorine McGinnis Schulze

I use the online American Library of Congress catalogue almost daily in my research. Using keywords that describe my area of interest, I search to find out what books are available. Armed with the full title, author, Call # and more, I can then approach my local library to request ILL (InterLibraryLoan).

I can also try an online catalogue of any Library closer to me geographically to see if they have the specific book I want and to see what else they have of interest.

Here are some examples relating to Ireland: I went to the Library of Congress catalogue at

In the subject field I put IRELAND

Twenty-five hits came up. This isn't 25 books; it's 25 subject areas. Within each subject area is the number of books on that subject -- for example, Ireland Administrative and Political Divisions from Old Catalog shows they have four books. Clicking on the subject heading brings up the list -- one of which is a topographical index to townlands:

LC Control Number: 78335054

Type of Material: Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
Brief Description: Ireland. Registrar General.
[from old catalog]
Topographical index to the townlands and towns of Ireland.
Dublin : Irish University Microforms, c1974.
ix, 1049 p. ; 23 cm.
CALL NUMBER: Microfiche HT133
Copy 1
-- Request in:
Microform Reading Room (Jefferson, LJ139B)
-- Status:
Not Charged

Back to the main headings...

Let's try Ireland Bibliographies -- it shows 22 hits. A click of the mouse reveals several interesting topics, including a catalogue of books printed about Ireland since 1938.

Back to the main hit list and we find Ireland Census 1659 (among many other census records). A click and the entire title and other data are revealed as:

LC Control Number: 44026121
Type of Material: Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
Brief Description: Irish Manuscripts Commission.
A census of Ireland, circa 1659, with supplementary material from the poll money ordinances (1660-1661); Edited by Séamus Pender
Dublin, Stationary office, 1939.
2 p.l., xix, 946 p. incl. tables. 25 cm.
CALL NUMBER: HA1142 1659
Copy 1-- Request in: Book Service: Jefferson (Main Eur Hisp LHG) or Adams 5th fl
-- Status: Not Charged
CALL NUMBER: HA1142 1659
Copy 2 -- Request in: Reference - Local History & Genealogy RR (Jefferson, LJG42)
-- Status: Not Charged

I could go on, but I won't :-)

For those interested, here are some other online Library catalogue URLs --- take a few hours, and have fun!

New York Public Library Catalogues

British Library

You can search the catalogue of the British Library by clicking on SEARCH and then choosing SEARCH THE CATALOGUE

Or go directly there

For fun I typed in IRELAND as the subject keyword -- and had 14,422 items found in the pre-1976 Reference Collections file.

Harvard Law School Catalogue can be accessed via HOLLIS

Don't be misled by the name -- Harvard has some manuscript collections online that are well worth looking at.

A good starting point is My Virtual Encyclopedia Books & Literature

This page is a set of links to other pages -- large libraries, online books, antique bookstores, etc.

Don't forget that you can use an antique bookstore to find the titles, authors, etc of books you might wish to read -- and then you can see if your local library can find that book on ILL.

This page provides a list of Repositories of Primary Sources in Europe

The Ireland category has links to the following:

  • Chester Beatty Library
  • Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin
  • Church of Ireland. Representative Church Body Library
  • Clare Local Studies Centre
  • Dublin City Archive
  • Dublin City Public Libraries. Dublin & Irish Collections
  • Garda S'ochána Museum/Archives
  • Mallow Heritage Centre {New}
  • Marsh's Library
  • National Archives of Ireland
  • National Library of Ireland
  • Radio Telef's Éireann
  • Royal Irish Academy
  • St. Patrick's College, Maynooth
  • Tipperary Libraries {New}
  • Trinity College Dublin
  • University College Cork
  • University College Dublin
  • University College, Galway
  • Valuation Office
  • Lorine McGinnis Schulze first shared this step-by-step guide to using online library catalogues for research on the Northern Ireland-Down mail list (

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