Using catalogues - State Library Victoria

Learning intention

Students explore how catalogues work and use filtering tools in the State Library Victoria catalogue.

Students will:

  • Identify and locate relevant sources, using ICT and other methods 


This activity is most useful when students have worked through basic web searches on a research topic or inquiry unit and they are ready to search online collections in more depth. It can also stand alone as an information-literacy lesson.


  • Student access to internet


Talk to students about the value of using a catalogue to access collections like those held by the State Library Victoria. Millions of online digitised resources from cultural institutions like libraries, galleries and museums are not indexed by search engines like Google.

By learning how to use catalogues, students can access a wealth of information that's otherwise not picked up by a simple web search. It’s important to know how to use catalogues so you can find the most useful information in the most efficient way.

Go to the Library's Search & Discover page and explore the different ways you can search collections including:

  • Catalogue search - refine by resource type, date range and availability
  • Digital image pool - browse thousands of copyright-free images
  • Research guides - detailed guides developed by expert librarians step you through common research tasks and topics

Ask students come up with a search topic from an area of study (‘trench warfare’ or ‘suffragettes’). They could also look for the name of your school or suburb.

Ask students to use the catalogue to find different types of resources, including:

  • an online resource
  • a book
  • a picture
  • the most recent publication on this topic (use the ‘creation date’ tab)

For each resource, ask students to share how they would access it and how they could use it.

Reflect on how searching the catalogue was different to using Google. Were there any skills they learnt using the catalogue which could help them search the web more effectively? Create a class set of top tips for using catalogues and searching the web.