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MetaLib User Guide
What is MetaLib?

MetaLib is a resource-finding and cross-searching tool. It is a single gateway to:

  • abstracting and indexing databases (guides to journal articles and more);
  • electronic journals;
  • library catalogues;
  • image databases;
  • guides to internet resources; and
  • reference resources such as encyclopaedias and dictionaries.

Accessing MetaLib

To access MetaLib, go to http://metalib.ucl.ac.uk.

The MetaLib screen

At the top of the MetaLib screen you will find navigation menus for moving around MetaLib
Note: You should use these rather than the Back and Forward buttons in the Web browser, to avoid losing search results.

MetaLib menus

You will also see your Login status, including your name if you are currently logged in. Log in when outside UCL or for access to the "My MetaLib" personal features.

Using QuickSearch

If you are looking for introductory information on a topic, we have selected the top resources for a range of subjects and provided a quick search tool.

  • First, select the subject area which suits your topic, using the radio buttons below the search box. Then enter a few words or a phrase in the search box and click "Go".
  • If you want to see which resources will be searched, click on the subject name.
  • If you would like to choose which resources to search, go to ExpertSearch.

MetaLib QuickSearch

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Search Results
  • MetaLib will show the top 10 results from a range of resources in a single list, ranked by relevance. You can choose to "Get more" if required.
  • Each record shows in which resource the record was found (e.g. Geobase in the picture below).

MetaLib QuickSearch Results

  • To find how to get hold of an item which interests you, click on the SFX button. This will show any online and printed library holdings.
  • To show subsets of your results, use the links at the right hand side, which limit your results by e.g. Topics, Dates, Journal Titles or Authors. See the next section for more information on search results.

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Using ExpertSearch

ExpertSearch enables you to search up to 20 resources of your choice at once. Many of these will return their results into a single, de-duplicated list in MetaLib, although resources marked Search and Link display their results differently: see below for details.

Step 1. Select the resources you want to search.

ExpertSearch resource menu Select your Subject and then a Sub-category. These categories contain all the relevant resources in each subject area - with broader coverage than in QuickSearch.

Then tick the boxes next to those resources you want to search together. If there are fewer than 20 resources listed, all will be selected by default. For information about a resource, click on the MetaLib information button button.

Some resources cannot be searched through MetaLib. These do not have a checkbox next to them. In these cases, click on the title of the resource to open its homepage in a new window.

Step 2. Enter your search term(s).

In the search box at the right, enter a word, phrase, multiple terms, or a truncated term. Examples are shown under the search box.

To specify which fields to search (eg author, title, year of publication), click on "Advanced". This option will not work for all resources. Check the search hints for the resource by clicking on the MetaLib information button button.

Click MetaLib Go button

MetaLib search box

Step 3. View your results.

The search summary screen shows the status of your search as it proceeds in the different resources. Searches are completed at different speeds for different resources. To show results for a single resource at any time, click on "View" next to that resource. If a search cannot be completed, an error message will be shown. When all the searches have completed, you can view a combined list by clicking on "Combined results". Initially, 10 results from each resource will be displayed (this limit is required for speed in viewing the results). See the picture in the QuickSearch section. You can increase the number retrieved per resource (up to 30 at a time) in My MetaLib > Preferences.

Scroll through your results, using the Next> and <Previous links, and note those of interest. You can retrieve more at any time by clicking "combine more" above the results list. This will retrieve another ten results per resource, which are marked "New". You can "combine more" as often as you like.

Results are sorted by MetaLib's ranking system, but can be re-sorted by Author, Title, Year of Publication or the Resource from which they came. Use the "Sort by:" option at the top right.

For each result you can:

  • Use the SFX button SFX button to locate the full text (either online if available, or via library holdings).
  • View the full record, including abstract where available, by clicking on the Title.
  • Mark the record by clicking on the MetaLib basket button. See "eShelf", below, for more details.
  • Email or save the record, from within the Full View, by clicking on MetaLib email button or MetaLib save button

Search + Link resources - marked Search and Link

Some resources are not able to import their results to MetaLib. To view the search results in a Search + Link resource, click on "View results by resource" and then click on "View" next to the name of the resource. This will take you to the search results in the home interface of that resource. (You search in MetaLib and then link to the results within the resource itself).

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Using the Find Resource tool

MetaLib can be used for discovering and accessing individual electronic resources.
Click on "Find Resource" on the top menu. You can locate resources by:

Title: If you know the title of the resource, select the first letter of that title to display an alphabetical list.
Keyword: If you want to find all resources with a particular feature, enter a keyword (eg "chemistry", "statistics") and use the drop-down lists for further limits if necessary.
Subject: Select a Subject and Sub-category (or ALL), then click "Go" to display all resources in the Sub-category.

From the resulting list of resources, you can:

  • Link to the resource, by clicking on the Title.
  • Display information about the resource, by clicking on the MetaLib Information button button.
  • Add the resource to your list of favourites, by clicking on the MetaLib add to favourites button button. See the My MetaLib section for further details.
  • Search the resource in MetaLib (if available), by clicking on the MetaLib search resource button button. See the ExpertSearch section for a description of the searching procedure.

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Using the Find e-Journal tool

MetaLib contains a listing of all the electronic journals to which UCL subscribes, plus a range of freely available journals. Click on "Find e-Journal" on the top menu. You can locate e-Journals by:

Title: Enter words from a journal title, or an abbreviated title (eg phys rev lett for Physical Review Letters), or click the starting letter of the journal title to browse a list. A separate browse list is provided for the many titles beginning "Journal of..."
Subject: If you want to find all journals covering a particular subject area, click on the tab marked "Subject" and then select a Category and a SubCategory, then click on GO to display a list of journals.
Publisher: Select a publisher from the list to see which of their journals are available electronically at UCL. Note: you can type the first letter of the publisher name to jump to that point in the list, and you can select multiple publishers by holding down the Control key whilst selecting.

From the resulting list of e-journals, you can:

  • Link to the full text, by clicking on the title. If the journal is available from more than one publisher, you will be shown an SFX menu with the full text options and years of coverage.
  • See which years and volumes are available at UCL in full text.
  • View an SFX menu for the journal, with links to printed volumes in UCL Library and in other libraries, by clicking on the SFX@UCL button.
  • Add the e-journal to your list of favourites in MetaLib, by clicking on the MetaLib add resource button button. See the My MetaLib section for further information

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My MetaLib

MetaLib offers a number of personalisation features associated with your login.
These allow you to save sets of records, create favourite lists of resources, and set up regular alerts based on previous searches.


Records which you mark from your results lists are stored in your eShelf. It will be empty until you have marked some records from your searches.

Click on My MetaLib in the top menu: your eShelf is shown by default.

Metalib eShelf

Marked records are initially put into your Basket. To organise them into folders, click on the Advanced link (top right). You will see a split screen with your Basket on the right and space to create new folders on the left. Create a new folder and use the arrow icon to copy items from your Basket to the new folder.

My Resources

Resources which you mark in MetaLib are added to your personal list of resources. You can organise them into sets for searching via QuickSearch. They will appear at the top of the QuickSearch screen when you are logged in.

Click on My MetaLib in the top menu, and then on My Resources.

MetaLib My Resources

Marked resources are initially put onto your Clipboard, and can then be organised into sets of resources. Create a new set on the left hand side and use the arrow buttons to copy resources from your Clipboard to the new set.

My e-Journals

E-journals which you mark in MetaLib are added to your personal list of e-journals.

Click on My MetaLib in the top menu, and then on My e-Journals.

MetaLib My e-Journals

E-journals are listed alphabetically by title. You can access the full text by clicking on the title, or a full SFX menu of services by clicking on the SFX button.

Saved Searches (and Alerts)

You can save searches from your Search History in ExpertSearch. Note that the Search History is cleared each time you log out of MetaLib. Any saved search can be re-run manually as many times as you want, or scheduled to run regularly as an alert which will be emailed to you.

Click on ExpertSearch and then Search History. Mark the search(es) you want to save.

Next, click on My MetaLib in the top menu, and then on Saved Searches.

MetaLib Saved Searches

To re-run a search manually, click on the search term on the left. To see which resources were searched, click on the number in the Resources column. To schedule a regular alert, click on the bell icon at the right and fill in the details. You will receive by email details of the number of results each time your search is re-run, and a link which you can use to display the results of the search in MetaLib.

Getting more help

For more help, consult the built-in Help in MetaLib (Help link in main menu), or ask a member of Library Services staff.

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Last modified 13th August 2008

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