The Many Functions of the Online Catalogue


Life is about making choices. Goods or products are normally presented to target customers in catalogs. Take for instance AVON and COSWAY. These well known brands regularly release their colorful and attractive catalogs to market their products to enable potential buyers to choose from. The same goes to a library. Catalog is very important to attract users to come and take benefit from a library. This article is about the IIUM library’s online catalog or better known as OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog); and how it can satisfy your desire to choose the best out of some 800,000 items in the collection to suit your working or learning needs.

To a large academic library like IIUM, a catalog is mandatory in order to survive because the collection is too large for a librarian to remember. In contrary to product catalogs, library catalogs simply mean “a set of bibliographic records that represent the holdings of a particular collection, arranged according to some definite plan.” Traditionally, library catalogs are only for the purpose of finding books and helping users in making choices. From the management perspective, library catalog serves as an inventory of assets acquired using the University’s budget. However, library catalogs of today or at least the IIUM’s have evolved tremendously from its card catalog days to the online version.

The IIUM library catalog is accessible at or you can go the library’s website at and select Library Catalogue. Gone were the days where you need to physically come to the library to search for library items and using the card catalogs where there were only four approaches: author, title, subject or call number. Today’s OPAC has gone through so many changes with increased functionality and accessibility. Now you can search for items/books, check your account details and also do renewal and reservation of borrowed books; even from the comfort of your home or office.

Firstly, searching for items/books’ capability. Our OPAC actually have more options than the users realized. For example they can use the quick or advance catalogue search to find library items. Quick search simply means general or keyword search. More search options is available in advance search. You can also limit your search by language, item format, item type or year of publication. On top of getting to see the images of your identified books, you can also get link to table of contents (TOC) and summary of the books. It also supports the link to full text images of over ten thousands titles of electronic books. In the near future, if budget permits, users would be able to flip open the book image itself to check the TOC, the front and back information for that particular item.

Secondly, checking borrowers account. If you want to know the status of your loan, just login to your account using Library Barcode and PIN to get the status of your library account. You can view loans due date, check fines, update PIN and many more including editing your account and updating your address.

Lastly, renewal and reservation of borrowed books. Through this important feature, the library has indeed empowered its users to do these on their own, hassle free. However, online renewal is possible only as long as the items are not yet overdue. As for reservation, you can reserve a book which is out on loan to ensure you will get the item when it is returned.

Some other things that you can get on the OPAC are “New book list” and “Check your shelf number.” New book list tells users of new titles added into the collection. The list is available by branches, i.e, Gombak, Kuantan ISTAC, IIiBF, CFS PJ and Nilai. “Check your shelf number” shows the directory of shelf to find where an identified call number is located on a specific shelf.


Indeed the online library catalogue is very user friendly and easy to use. One can definitely use it without formally learning how to use it. Basic search is good enough. However, should you need to conduct more efficient and effective searches; our library staff is for ever ready to assist you.

Hana Imam Supa’at
Head of CFS Library Branch, Petaling Jaya


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