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Cite-Checking Research Guide

Print Materials

To find a print version of a book or an article, the best tool to use is the online catalog. One distinguishing feature of article citations is that they include both the article title and name of the periodical (journal, magazine, newspaper, etc.) in which the article was published. When using a catalog to locate an article or book chapter, remember to search for the name of the periodical or book containing that article or chapter rather than the title of the actual article or chapter. Many catalogs offer a "journal title" or "periodical title" search option, which often can be helpful when searching for a particular periodical title.

Keep in mind that while this section specifically mentions books and articles, catalogs can be used to find any separately published item, including reports and studies published by government agencies and private organizations. These types of publications, however, can often be found electronically (in PDF) on the websites of the agencies and organizations that published them.

USC Catalogs

USC has three different catalogs for finding books and periodicals:

  • ADVOCAT (USC Law Library): Searches the holdings of the USC Law Library only.
  • HOMER (USC Libraries): Searches the holdings of all of the USC libraries EXCEPT the law, medical, and dental libraries).
  • HELIX (Health Sciences): Searches the holdings of the USC medical and dental libraries only.

Access all of these catalogs from the USC Law Library's webpage under Search Library Catalogs.  (ADVOCAT can also be searched from the "Library Quick Search" box located on the same webpage.)  All three of these catalogs can be accessed from any of the computers in the library as well as from any other computer connected to the internet. The Search All USC Library Catalogs option allows you to simultaneously search all three USC catalogs; however, you will have more searching options and may get better results if you search the catalogs separately.

When using HOMER, keep in mind that some USC items have been sent to offsite storage facilities (Grand Depository and East) but are available through an electronic paging system. If you need assistance in submitting a paging request through the HOMER catalog, feel free to stop by the Law Library's Service Counter.

Off-Campus Libraries

If the book or periodical you are looking for is not at USC,  you may want to see if it is available at a nearby library.  There are a number of non-USC libraries located in relatively close proximity to the USC campus, some of which are recognized for their outstanding collections.

You can also usually access a particular library's catalog by going directly to that library's website.The following are phone numbers and website addresses for a number of local libraries that may be helpful to you in your search for specific publications:

LA Law Library

213-785-2529 (213-78-LALAW)

213-785-2513 (Reference)

Loyola Law Library

213-736-1117 (Circulation)

213-736-1177 (Reference)

Southwestern University Law Library

213-738-5771 (Circulation)

213-738-6725 (Reference)

UCLA Law Library

310-825-4743 (Circulation)

310-825-6414 (Reference)

UCLA University Libraries

various libraries;

310-825-4732 (Young Research Library)

Los Angeles Public Library

various libraries;

213-228-7000 (Central Branch)

County of Los Angeles Public Library

various libraries


There is also a catalog accessible to all USC users called WorldCat, which allows you to simultaneously search the holdings of thousands of libraries throughout the world, including all of the ones listed above. The main USC Law Library web page contains a link to WorldCat (under "Law Library Quicklinks").

When you access WorldCat, you can conduct a Basic Search or an Advanced Search. For guidance on how to search on WorldCat, consult the Help screens by clicking on the "Help" button, located just above the yellow search box.

After you enter a search in WorldCat, you will retrieve a list of items that satisfy your search parameters. For any item record retrieved on WorldCat, you can click on the "Libraries Worldwide" link to see which libraries own that item. The initial list will be limited to libraries in California. For some of the libraries listed, you can link to their own individual catalogs.

Keep in mind that WorldCat may not be as accurate regarding a particular library's holdings as that library's own catalog. Also, WorldCat itself will not tell you if a library holds a complete run of a particular journal or whether the item you need is checked out of the library at the present time. Finally, if a library has more than one branch, WorldCat will not indicate which branch owns the title. Therefore, while WorldCat may provide you with some leads, it is important that you search the individual library catalogs as well.