If you only use a search engine to find information, you can miss out on some fantastic collections. Search engines can only retrieve content that has been indexed – if the information you're looking for hasn't been indexed, you won't find it by using a search engine. And even if the information has been indexed, it may not be easy to find amongst the many pages of search results displayed.
The best way to search an organisation’s collection is to go direct to their website. You'll find that some resources have been digitised and can be accessed freely online, while others can only be accessed by visiting the organisation in person.
When you visit a collecting organisation such as a museum or library, it's important to remember that they have large collections and not all items will be on display. Many organisations keep parts of their collection in storage areas, and you will need to order items you'd like to view in advance.
Some items can be accessed quickly, within 30 minutes. Others can take hours or even days to be retrieved. Some organisations, such as museums and galleries, don’t always provide access to their storage items, but it’s always worth asking if they can be made available.
Things to remember
- Not all collections can easily be found through a search engine
- Not all collections have been digitised
- You may need to visit in person to access material
Let's now take a look at how to access collection items by searching a catalogue.