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Catalog USMAI - The Basics

This guide provides basic instructions on how to use the Catalog USMAI to find materials such as books and audio-visual media in the library.

What does USMAI mean and why should I care?

"USMAI" is an acronym which stands for "University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions."  This is good news for you, because it means that Bowie State University students - and faculty and staff who have registered their Bulldog ID cards with the library - can also borrow books from any of these 16 other institutions.  

If Bowie's Thurgood Marshall Library does not own the book you're looking for, but College Park does, or UMBC does, or Frostburg, or Salisbury, or the College of St. Mary's, we can get that book for you.  You just have to put in a request and it will be delivered to the library within a week or so. For instructions in how to do this online, see the link below:

Using the USMAI Catalog

All of your catalog searches will start from a home screen which looks like this:

This is a basic search, allowing you to choose from a pull-down menu with several different search options.  You can search by title, author, or subject, or, if you already know the call number of the item you're looking for (maybe if you've used it before and made a note of the number), you can put that in and go directly to the record.  You can use upper case OR lower case letters, either will work, and if you need to find matches that contain portions of words you can use the "?" symbol.    

More often, you won't have a specific book in mind, but will need to find books related to a specific theme.  You can do a "subject" search (think of this as a keyword search) to find items related to your topic.  If the basic search isn't quite cutting it, you could also choose to do an advanced search, which would allow you to combine several different search fields and to differentiate between collections.

Before you start searching, it's important to notice the "You are here" line.

Searching "Catalog - Bowie State University" means that you are searching only those materials which are owned by and located at Bowie State University. This line might also read "Catalog - USMAI (all campuses)," which would mean that you were searching through all of the materials owned by members of the USMAI (University of Maryland, UMBC, Towson ect.).  It can be useful to search all of the USMAI if you think there's a possibility that Bowie State does not own the item you're looking for.  But it's important to remember that having a book sent from another school takes time.  If you're in a hurry, it's a good idea to limit your search right off the bat, so that you're not flooded with items you don't have time to wait for.