Friday, August 26, 2011

Help: Online libraries and other resources....???

I have to stop buying so many Catholic books.  I buy them because you can't just go to the city library and find these gems.  But, I'm running out of space. 

I am able to find some things online.  What is great about that is the ability to do a search using a keyword and get a list of places it is mentioned.  When you have a book in hand, you can thumb your way to China and still not find what you are looking for. 

Often when I do searches I run into Google Books.  I've never really looked into them beyond finding a quote. Sometimes, only a portion is uploaded (I suppose they want money for access to the full version).  Are there other sites that do this?

Other questions I have concern real libraries.  For example, there are things I want to look for in the New Catholic Encyclopedia.  I don't want to store such a collectio in my home.  Perhaps the city or county library have it.  Do libraries have ways to see what books they have?  What else can you tell me about doing searches for local libraries online, if that is an option?

Now, let's say that no one local has the New Catholic Encyclopedia, or the place that has it is not convenient.  Are there services where, if you know what topics you want, they will copy and send the relevant pages? Do I have to go somewhere for that, or can I do it from home?  Do I need to know the page numbers or would I just provide a topic?  

Any other insight you can use to help me to navigate the vast resources would be appreciated.  I am a regular user of, which has the Summa, the old Catholic Encyclopedia, the Fathers, and so much more.

I"m looking for other helpful resources for topics in Catholicism.  While I am open to CD-Roms, I have bad experience with them.  I got some once, then when the next version of Windows came out, they wouldn't work any more.  I'd probably prefer to get a data stick with info on it. 

I'd like to find more resources without draining my bank account.

OK - Educate me!

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Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

This was just emailed to me.

Awesome info and list of cheap and free Catholic classics in e-format.

I have a Kindle, but never thought to look at the books on my PC. I have not tried it yet, but I suppose this means I can search from my PC?

Ben said...

On libraries: one can search libraries world-wide using Here in Michigan, we can search MI libraries and have their books shipped, for free, to our local library using MeL:

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

Ben - that's good to know. Thanks!

Freyr said...

Here's some good news for you then...
Much good Catholic literature is out of copyright and available online as is the old Catholic Encyclopedia. You have already seen some of that at New Advent. CDs are a little chancy but I store my book collection on an external 330g hard drive. They are cheap now and a good investment as they are portable and will be available when the rest of your system goes down. As for readers... the PC is useful for brief stints but a good handheld reader is a valuable investment. The Aluratec Libre is good for all sorts of public domain formats but buying DRM burdened books will be difficult for it. The others are tied to one proprietary format or another.

By the way... we are just getting a blog off the ground and your Catholics in the Combox is required reading for it. Thanks.

Nick Childers said...

Free Catholic eBooks
Catechesis of the Popes
Writings of the Church Fathers
Lives of the Desert Fathers
Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music

Ben said...

More thoughts: tends to have old (and therefore out of copyright) texts available for free. Most of the books come in Kindle format as well as HTML, PDF, plain text, and other formats. If not, I use this site to convert PDFs and RTFs (although it probably supports others) to Kindle format:

Also, if you have an iOS device, the excellent iPieta app has loads of good material (Fathers, Papal documents, selected saints, and more).

Kathryn said...

Your physical library has a lot of resources, too (physical and electronic). A lot of them you can't find online by just Googling.

In the Metro-Detroit area, there are a few options.

(1) Just about every library in the country puts their holdings online. Just Google your local library and look for a link that says something like catalog. You'll find all of your library's physical resources.

(2) You library probably has quite a few electronic resources too, everything from eBooks (nonfiction and popular) to databases full of newspaper/magazine/journal articles about millions of subjects. Just Google your library and find a link that says electronic resources or databases.

(3) In Michigan there are two different kinds of Interlibrary Loan services. MeL is a statewide lending service - you can get books from thousands of libraries across the state at no charge. They'll be mailed to your home library, you give pick them up and then check them out. I would say that 60-70% of Michigan libraries offer this service. You can find their catalog here:

The other Interloan Service is International, and its called OCLC. Some Michigan libraries also subscribe to it, and you can get books and articles from around the world. You can find almost anything there. Their public catalog is here:

(4) Finally, in the Metro-Detroit area, the best place for Catholic resources (electronic and in print) is the Seminary. It's free and open to the public during the day. You can also purchase a researcher card for $30 a year, which allows you to check out materials.

Even if you don't live in Michigan - your local library has millions of resources available for you, and a lot of them, you don't even have to leave home to get.

Nancy said...

I have to admit my favourite resource is an app for my iPod called iPieta (and there's one for iPad as well). It is an amazing library in the palm of your hand. In the doctrine/spirituality section they have among other things, works like Butler's Saints, Introduction to the Devout Life,The Imitation of Christ the writings of St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Therese of Lisieux,St. Louis Marie de Montfort, St. Jean-Marie Vianney and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola to name just a few. It has the Baltimore and Trent Catechisms, the Summa, documents from all the ecumenical councils, papal documents from Pius VI to Benedict XVI, the Church Fathers, so much to digest. And on top of all that there are the Douay-Rheims (that is cross-referenced to the Haydock Bible Commentary and the Catena Aurea)and the Vulgate Bibles, both the EF and OF liturgical calendars and over 100 prayers, chaplets and litanies.

All that for $2.99 - you could spend hundreds of dollars trying to build a library like this. Best of all, I can take it all wherever I go.

Kevin Hammer said...

You might find some things at this site:

You can search by keyword and limit by the type of media. I have found some great local church histories through this site.

Anonymous said...

Hi Diane,
I absolutely love your blog! Wonderful to read!
I am a public librarian in Canada and work with teens but I also do a great deal of reference work.
One thing to consider is that if you find a book you think is quite good, you should request that your local library purchase it. This is one way to get Catholic books into libraries. Not many people know that libraries will purchase books for patrons but it does depend upon each library system.
For example the library system I work at only purchases books published in the last two years including the current year.
For books over 2 years we try to bring in a copy from another library system (this is known as interlibrary loan). This is usually free of charge, although books that come from academic libraries usually have a fee.
The other key thing to KEEPING Catholic stuff in libraries is for people to sign them out!
It is impossible for libraries to keep everything (although based on what I've read at Awful Library Books, apparently some do try!) so we regularly weed our collections.
Those that don't get signed out are removed.
Sadly many libraries here in Canada have weeded some of the old classic Catholic books.
Take care and God bless.