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A quick primer on where to search for library materials

Eileen Y., Librarian, Digital Content Team, man menu - Search the Library Collections

Ever wonder where to start looking on our website for finding different materials that the library has?  Whether it’s a book, magazine article, CD,  digitized photo, a historical map, or even some songs to download, here is a quick guide on where to click first, just so you can get started searching for library materials:

The Los Angeles Public Library has 5 main organized sections that represent 5 different categories of our collections, these are all searchable through our website  Below, are illustrations on how these 5 collections are visually organized at As you may have noticed, there are a lot of different icons, pictures and links on our homepage, it may not be completely obvious where to click on first, depending on what you are looking for.  I have decided to just focus on a specific section of our website which is the section organized under the “search the library’s collections” banner as pictured below.  If you open up in another tab or window, you will see the below graphics near the top of the homepage – I will only be focusing on that section in this guide. Here is what each section encompasses:


As you can see above, clicking once on the Catalog button on our homepage makes the catalog box to turn dark blue. You can either click on the link under the search box that says “Go to Catalog” OR you can start searching right away in the search box provided.  The default setting for searching is keyword, although as one can see above there is a drop down menu for different choices` which also include title, author, subject and ISBN. 
The library catalog is a list of books, audio materials, videos, videos, DVDs, CDs, and many other types of materials. The library’s collections currently comprise approximately 2.7 million items at Central library and approximately 6.2 million items in the entire library system.

Photo Collection

The photo collection as highlighted above in dark blue with the arrows pointing towards it is searchable on our main page.  As with the catalog, you can either begin searching with the search box provided OR you can click on the link below the search box that says “Go to Photo Collection” and start searching that way.  More than 60,000 images are available online through this collection. The photo collection emphasizes the history of Los Angeles, Southern California, and California. For a more in depth description of the photo collection, please go here:


Visual Collections

The visual collections section is highlighted above in dark blue with arrows pointing towards it.  You can begin searching in the search box provided OR you can click on “Go to Visual Collections” link.  However, rather then a drop down “keyword menu” provided, you can see the first default choice is searching the Map Collection.   The other collections that you can choose from in that drop down menu are:  Fruit Crate Collection, Casey Fashion Plates, Bookplate Collection, Travel Posters and Movie Poster Collection. Our searchable and mostly browsable visual collections described above are focused not only on local history, but other types of history as well. Not all of our Visual Collections are searchable from our main page – clicking on the link “Go to Visual Collections” will give you access to other collections such as the City and Street Directories, the El Pueblo Archive and the Menu collection, just to name a few.

Research & Homework

Unlike the previous three collections outlined above, the Research & Homework section is not immediately searchable within the search box given above.  You need to click on the box labeled Research & Homework to begin searching.  When you click on this box, you will be taken to a menu of over 161 specialized electronic resources on a huge variety of subjects– these resources will give you access to a vast array of research level materials such as specialized journals, magazine articles, newspaper archives, and interactive on-line courses, just to name a few.  This section will take you to resources that are not easily available just by browsing the internet, most of these resources  are made available to most of our patrons with library card login accessibility from home.  Additionally, you will also find research guides, indexes and recommended web resources compiled by our staff. Please click on the Research & Homework graphic described and pictured above at for more information.


For a more efficient, thorough search of downloadable materials, it’s best to click on the light blue box labeled E-media to begin searching for those materials.  Our E-media section provides our users with access to a variety of downloadable e-media that can be read, viewed or listened to on a variety of electronic devices such as your PC, Mac, iPad, iPod, Kindle, Nook etc. Once you click on this section you will find a list of our partners that provide  e-media collections for our library users such as e-books, e-audiobooks, e-music and e-videos. Podcasts are listed here from some of our library programs. Also listed are websites that provide public domain e-book titles.