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MetaLib - gateway to electronic resources

What is MetaLib?

MetaLib is a gateway to a range of electronic resources relevant to users of UCL Library Services. It can be used to identify resources relevant to a particular area of research or study, and it can be used to "cross-search" groups of these resources. This can save you valuable time in the research process, especially if you need a quick overview of a topic.

Resources accessible through MetaLib include:

  • Abstracting and indexing databases
  • Electronic journals
  • Library catalogues
  • Image databases
  • Guides to internet resources
  • Reference resources such as encyclopaedia and dictionaries

MetaLib also offers personalisation features. You can save search results, save searches, set up alerts and create groups of "favourite" resources for cross-searching.

Passwords and logging in to MetaLib

On-site users

You will only need to log in to MetaLib if you want to use the personal features (save records, searches, etc) in My MetaLib.

Off-site users

If your computer is outside the UCL network, you will be prompted automatically to log in when clicking on a link to a UCL-restricted resource in any of MetaLib's tabs. Some resources are freely available and these do not require login. If you want to use the cross-search (QuickSearch or ExpertSearch) or personal features (My MetaLib), you will need to click on "Login for off-site access" within MetaLib to open up these features.

In all cases, MetaLib login requires your UCL userid and password. All UCL students and staff, including staff who hold honorary appointments ratified by UCL Human Resources Department, are eligible to register for a UCL userid. Please see this ISD webpage for information on the registration process.

Getting help

If you encounter any problems using MetaLib, please use the problem report form.

Online help is provided within MetaLib - select Help from the top menu on any screen in MetaLib.

There is also an introductory User guide which is also available in printed format from any Library Services site. Or you can ask for help at any staffed service point at the Library Services sites.

Frequently asked questions

Q: Why should I search MetaLib?

MetaLib is good for gaining an overview of a topic or conducting an introductory search. In many other cases, you should continue to use a resource's own search interface, if MetaLib's searching is not sophisticated enough for your purpose. The balance of the usage of MetaLib and databases' own interfaces varies depending on your subject area.

Q: How do I find electronic journals?

Electronic journals are listed in MetaLib, in the Find e-Journal module. You can search for journals by title, subject or publisher. For more information on e-journals available at UCL, visit the e-journals webpages. Within MetaLib, you can also search collections of e-journals (eg ScienceDirect, JSTOR), and you can link to articles in fulltext journals, via SFX.

Q: What can I access if I don't log in?

On-site users can search everything, but if they follow links to resources, these may occasionally present the UCL electronic resource login box (where necessary). Off-site users can only search "free" resources, and if they follow links to resources, these will present the usual off-site login boxes. See the login section above for more information.

Q: How can I get rid of the pop-up message boxes I see when I try to log in?

On some computers (particularly UCL WTS), if you use the Internet Explorer browser, you will see some pop-up security messages when you try to log in to MetaLib. To ensure that these boxes don't display again, tick the box next to "In the future, do not show this warning" and then answer "Yes" to any boxes which ask you if you want to show both secure and non-secure items.

Q: Why can't I search this resource/see the results of searching this resource?

Technical restrictions mean some resources are only available as Search+Link (link out to see results), and some cannot be searched within MetaLib at all (link out to search).

Q: How can I search resources from different subject categories together? [eg French and German]

Create your own set of resources in My Resources.

Q: Why can't I find this resource, which I am sure must be in MetaLib?

Try using the Keyword search in Find Resource. Its title search enables you to find a resource which may have been entered under a variation of the name you have tried searching for.

Q: Why doesn't this Boolean/phrase/Advanced search work?

Check the information button Info icon for the resource to see search hints (including restrictions) for that resource. Unless otherwise specified, the default search syntax in MetaLib is:

  • Multiple search terms in any field are connected with "AND" (i.e. all terms must be present in the results)
  • Phrases should be entered in "double quotes"
  • Truncation is done using the character '?'
  • For author searching, use only the author's last name if possible. Some resources also include first initials or first names - the format 'Last, F?' may work in these cases.
  • Boolean searching (AND/OR/NOT) can only be done in two fields at a time, on the Advanced search tab, using the drop-down connectors.

Q: Why are only 90 out of 1100 [for example] hits returned at once?

The combined list takes time to generate, and would be too slow to combine the whole of several result lists at once. Use "Get more" to add 10 more from each resource at a time; or view the whole list for an individual resource.

Q: Are the first results returned in the combined list the most relevant from all resources?

Not necessarily. MetaLib returns the first 10 results as each resource lists them, which may be by relevance in some cases, but alternatively by publication date or alphabetically in others. The only way to rank the combined results list is to combine more until you have the whole list, sorting by MetaLib's ranking option.

Q: How can I see which journal this article is from?

Switch to "Brief view" on the results screen (instead of "Table view"). The citation is then shown for each hit.

Q: Can I export my results into Reference Manager?

Yes. Use the normal procedure for saving results and select "Citation manager" format. You can then choose a library into which you want to export the records, and this will automatically open Reference Manager and do the export.

Q: Why can't I see the SFX button?

Some resources don't provide data relevant to SFX links. On these resources, the SFX button is suppressed. Often, these resources provide their own links to fulltext instead, in the "External" field of the record in MetaLib.

Q: What's happened? I've lost my search by using the Back button!

We recommend that you don't use the web browser Back and Forward buttons at all with MetaLib - use the built-in navigation links in the top menus and elsewhere.

Q: Why have I been logged out of MetaLib automatically?

If you do not submit a search or move to another screen in MetaLib for 15 minutes, you will automatically be logged out. This is a security measure, to guard against others being able to use your MetaLib account if you accidentally leave a MetaLib session unattended on your computer. You will be taken to guest access and can log back in at any point.

Q: Can I create a link to MetaLib from my webpage?

Yes, you can link into MetaLib at the subject level - either to a list of information resources, or to a subject-based cross-searchable list - using the MetaLib link generator.
Instructions are available (PDF).

Last modified 02 July 2014

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