Reference Guides– FirstSearch
FirstSearch is an electronic information service comprised of a number of databases which help you locate
books, citations to articles, and more on a variety of subjects.
This service offers user-friendly access to a variety of subject specific databases in the humanities, social
sciences and sciences, and to the OCLC On-line Union Catalog which contains more than 30 million
records representing the holdings of more than 15,000 libraries worldwide. Eastman Students, Faculty and
Staff may access FirstSearch free of charge, (subsidized by Sibley and the University of Rochester
Libraries) from the Sibley Library, or from home or office via personal computer. The system is available
23 hours a day (not available 3:00 – 4:00am).
I. How to Access FirstSearch via the web and telnet:
A. You can access the FirstSearch databases through the World Wide Web by pointing your
This page will automatically connect you to the databases.
B. Telnet access connects to the text only (no graphics) interface. To access the text only
interface, from your uhura account type:
Be sure to read the short introductory block on the first screen about how to enter the FirstSearch
system using Telnet!
World Cat: Over 36 million records of any type of material cataloged by OCLC member libraries. Includes
manuscripts written as early as the 11th century. Updated daily.
Art Abstracts: More than 250 key international, English-language arts publications. Includes periodicals,
yearbooks, museum bulletins, competition and award notices, exhibition listings, interviews, film reviews,
and more. Indexing from September 1984 to the present. Abstracts from Spring 1994. Updated monthly.
Article1st: Nearly 12,500 journals in science, technology, medicine, social science, business, the
humanities, and popular culture. 1990 to the present. Updated daily.
Arts & Humanities Search: Over 1.4 million records referencing more than 1,300 of the world’s leading arts
and humanities journals. 1980 to the present. Updated weekly.
AGRICOLA: Over 2.9 million records covering every major agricultural subject. 1970 to the present.
AIDS/Cancer: This is an index of cancer and AIDS research gathered from worldwide scientific literature
as summarized in Virology & AIDS Abstracts, Oncogenes & Growth Factors Abstracts and Immunology
Abstracts. The database covers the current year plus the five preceding years and is updated monthly.
Applied Science & Technology Abstracts: More than 350 international, English-language periodicals,
covering engineering, mathematics, physics, and computer technology. Includes articles, interviews,
meetings, conferences, exhibitions, new product reviews/announcements, and more. October 1983 to the
present. Updated monthly.
BasicBIOSIS: Over 500,000 records from selected journals covered in BIOSIS Previews. Coverage is from
1988 to the present. Updated weekly.
BioDigest: More than 8,500 records covering the life sciences for undergraduates and high school students.
September 1989 to the present. Updated monthly, September through May.
BiographyInd: More than 2,700 English-language periodicals. More than 1,800 books added each year.
Includes autobiographies, bibliographies, biographies, critical studies, fiction and drama, pictorial works,
poetry, juvenile literature, obituaries, journals, collections of letters, book reviews, and interviews. July
1984 to the present. Updated monthly.
Biological & Agricultural Index: Nearly 250 English-language periodicals in life sciences and agricultural
subjects, published in the U.S. and elsewhere. Includes book reviews. July 1983 to the present. Updated
Book Review Digest: Approximately 100 periodicals published in the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain,
covering over 7,000 adult and children’s books each year. Includes English-language fiction and nonfiction.
January 1983 to the present. Updated monthly.
Books in Print: 1.8+ million records of in-print, out-of-print, and forthcoming books from over 44,000
North American publishers. Updated weekly.
Business Dateline: Over 500,000 citations on regional business activities and trends as well as major stories
on local firms, their products and executives. Citations are from over 450 business sources and date back to
1985. Updated weekly.
Business and Industry: Contains important facts, figures and key events dealing with public and private
companies, industries, products and markets for all manufacturing and service industries at an international
level. B&I focuses on a body of literature that includes leading trade magazines, newsletters, the general
business press and international business dailies. Coverage from 1992 to the present. Updated daily.
Business News: Brief summaries of news stories drawn from over 350 sources, updated daily by the
HeadsUp(TM) service of INDIVIDUAL, Inc. Business News contains one to two weeks’ worth of
summaries and includes such subjects as information technology, telecommunications, health care, and
defense. News summaries are added to the database daily. Once a week, summaries from the oldest week
Business Organizations: Directory of more than 26,000 new and established organizations, agencies, and
publications worldwide. Updated annually.
CINAHL: Covers nearly 900 nursing, allied health, biomedical and consumer health journals, publications
of the American Nursing Association, and the National League for Nursing. Abstract coverage from
January 1986 to the present. Indexing coverage from 1982 to the present. Updated twelve times per year.
Consumers Index: More than 110 periodicals and services covering product evaluations, descriptions,
recalls, alerts, and warnings. 1986 to the present. Updated quarterly.
Contents1st: Complete table of contents page and holdings information for nearly 12,500 journals in many
fields. January 1990 to the present. Updated daily.
DataTimes: The database covers approximately 136 newspapers, 92 of which are regional U.S. newspapers.
The other 34 titles are from financial and regional newspapers published outside the U.S. Coverage begins
February 1, 1996. The database is updated daily.
Disclosure: Corporate and financial information on more than 11,000 corporations whose shares are traded
in the U.S. Updated weekly.
Dissertation Abstracts Online: The complete range of academic subjects appearing in dissertations accepted
at accredited institutions since 1861. Updated monthly.
EBSCO: More than 2,300 business, humanities, general science, social science, health, trade, and vocation
periodicals. The complete text of the articles from nearly 1,000 of those periodicals is available through this
database. Abstracting since 1984. Full text for covered titles since 1990. Updated weekly.
EconLit: Subject indexing and abstracts of over 400 journals, over 500 collective volumes per year, plus
books, dissertations, and working papers. January 1969 to the present. Updated monthly.
Education Abstracts: More than 400 English-language periodicals and yearbooks published in the U.S. and
elsewhere. Subjects include administration, teaching methods and curriculum, literacy, government
funding, and more. Indexing from June 1983 to the present. Abstracts from August 1994. Updated monthly.
Environment: An index of comprehensive, multidisciplinary coverage of relevant fields across the
environmental sciences from all the primary sources for 11 abstracts journals for the current year plus 5
previous years. Updated monthly.
EventLine: International conventions, conferences, symposia, trade fairs, and exhibits scheduled between
the present time and the 21st century. Updated monthly.
ERIC: Over 800,000 references to thousands of educational topics. Includes journal articles, books, theses,
curriculi, conference papers, and standards and guidelines. 1966 to the present. Updated monthly.
FactSearch: The FactSearch database is a guide to statistical statements on current social, economic,
political, environmental and health issues, derived from some 1000 newspapers, periodicals, newsletters
and documents such as the Christian Science Monitor, the Congressional Record, Congressional hearings,
Daily Press Briefings of the White House, State Department and Department of Defense, and Australian,
British and Canadian Parliamentary Debates. Web links to free full text are included frequently. Covering
1984 to present and updated every quarter, FactSearch is the FirstSearch implementation of the A Matter of
Fact database produced by Pierian Press, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
FastDoc: FastDoc is a collection of articles that have a high percentage of citations that can be ordered for
online viewing or email delivery. It is updated daily.
General Science Abstracts: More than 150 journals and magazines from the U.S. and Great Britain,
covering such subjects as anthropology, astronomy, biology, computers, earth sciences, medicine and
health, and much more. Includes articles, reviews, biographical sketches, and letters to the editor. Indexing
from May 1984 to the present. Abstracts from March 1993 to the present. Updated monthly.
GEOBASE: More than 500,000 records covering the worldwide literature on geology, geography, and
ecology. Coverage is 1980 to the present. The database is updated monthly.
GeoRef: Nearly 2 million records about geology and earth sciences. 1785 to the present (North American);
1933 to the present (entire world.) Updated bi-monthly.
GPO: Over 380,000 records on all subjects of interest to the U.S. government. July 1976 to the present.
Humanities Abstracts: More than 400 periodicals in archaeology, art, classics, film, folklore, journalism,
linguistics, music, the performing arts, philosophy, religion, world history, and world literature. Indexing
from February 1984 to the present, abstracts from March 1994. Updated monthly.
Index to Legal Periodicals and Books :Articles from some 620 legal journals, yearbooks, institutes, bar
association organs, law reviews, and government publications originating in the United States, Canada,
Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Includes book reviews. August 1981 to the present.
INSPEC: Scientific and technical journals and conference proceedings in physics, electrical engineering
and electronics, computing and control, and information technology. January 1969 to the present. Updated
LibraryLit: More than 200 library and information-science periodicals published internationally, and more
than 600 books per year. December 1984 to the present. Updated monthly.
MLA: Literature, languages, linguistics, and folklore from over 4,000 journals and series published
worldwide. 1963 to the present. Updated ten times per year.
MDX Health Digest :Over 25,000 abstracted citations from over 200 publications starting January 1988 to
the present. Updated monthly.
MEDLINE :More than 3,500 journals published internationally, covering all areas of medicine. 1985 to the
present. Updated monthly.
Microcomputer Abstracts: More than 75 popular magazines and professional journals on microcomputing
in business, education, industry, and the home. Includes news, articles, reviews, and product
announcements. January 1989 to the present. Updated monthly.
NetFirst: Bibliographic citations including abstracts, subject headings, and classification codes. Includes a
variety of Internet accessible resources including World Wide Web pages and Listservs. New resource
types, including Usenet newsgroups, FTP sites, Gopher servers, and electronic publications in many
formats will be coming soon. Updated weekly.
News Abstracts: Coverage of over 25 national and regional newspapers. 1989 to the present. Updated
New York Times: The New York Times database covers international, national, business, and New York
regional news, as well as sciences, medicine, arts, sports, and lifestyle news. All articles are from the Late
City Edition of The New York Times (the same edition as produced on microfilm). The full text of all
articles published within the last 90 days is available online. Abstracts accompany all other articles, from
January 1994 to the present. Updated daily.
PAIS Decade: More than 200,000 records representing articles, books, conference proceedings,
government documents, book chapters, and statistical directories about public affairs. Covers the most
recent 10 years. Updated monthly.
PapersFirst :Over 580,000 papers included in every congress, conference, exposition, workshop,
symposium, and meeting received at The British Library from October 1993 to the present. Updated
Periodical Abstracts :1,500+ general and academic journals, covering business, current affairs, economics,
literature, religion, psychology, women’s studies, and others. January 1986 to the present. Updated weekly.
Pro CD Biz: 15 million listings from printed phone directories in the United States. Updated quarterly.
Pro CD Home: 80 million listings from printed phone directories in the United States. Updated
Proceedings: Over 19,000 citations of every congress, symposium, conference, exposition, workshop and
meeting received at The British Library from October 1993 to the present. Updated monthly.
PsycFirst: More than 1,300 journals on psychology and related fields. Coverage is current year plus the
most recent three years. Updated monthly.
Readers’ Guide Abstracts: Popular periodicals published in the U.S. and Canada. Includes current events
and news, fine arts, fashion, education, business, sports, health and nutrition, consumer affairs, and others.
January 1983 to the present. Updated monthly.
RILM: Over 200,000 citations on international music corresponding to the printed RILM Abstracts of
Music Literature. This file is produced by the Repertoire International de Litterature Musicale. It includes
all data from the RILM printed year 1969 to the present. It is updated quarterly.
Sociological Abstracts: 250 English-language journals in sociology, social work, and other social sciences.
Covers 1963 to the present. Updated six times per year.
Social Sciences Abstracts: More than 400 international, English-language periodicals in sociology,
anthropology, geography, economics, political science, and law. Indexing from February 1983 to the
present. Abstracts from January 1994. Updated monthly.
Wilson Business Abstracts: More than 300 international English-language business magazines, covering
accounting, finance, management, and small business. January 1986 to the present. Updated monthly.
World Almanac and Book of Facts 1996: The World Almanac first published in 1868, is a single source
reference database that covers arts and entertainment, U.S. cities and states, people in the news, the nations
of the world, sports, the environment, vital statistics, science and technology, computers, taxes and much
Disclosure/Worldscope Snapshots: Derived from corporate annual and 10K reports, disclosure statements,
newspapers, and wire services. Each record includes a description of the business, selected financials, key
ratios, and officers. Updated weekly.
III. Web Searching
The FirstSearch system uses one interface for all databases.
Note the scroll bar at the right edge of the screen. This appears whenever there is information on the page
that is not immediately visible on your computer screen. As in all applications that use a graphical
interface, click on the arrows at the top and bottom of the scroll bar to move up and down the page.
A. Selecting a Database
Select the database you wish to search by clicking on the title, then clicking on the “Select Database”
You may select a new database at anytime by clicking on the database icon at the top of the screen.
B. Basic Searching
You may simply enter a term in the box, then click the “Start Search” button. Basic searches may include
labels such as au:, (author), ti; (title) or su: (subject). If you do not enter a label before your term the
system will automatically default to a subject search.
C. Advanced Searching
Advanced Searching provides more flexibility in the types of searches.
Enter terms in the box labled “word/phrase” and specify in which index field you would like to search for
that term by clicking on the drop down menu and selecting the appropriate index.
1. You may combine terms by selecting a boolean operator on the next line and entering
another term and index field.
2. You may set limits by selecting from the available lists near the bottom of the search screen.
After entering all of the information click the “Start Search” button.
D. Viewing Records
If your search retrieves more than one item, a list of abbreviated titles will appear. Here are the primary options available on the Search Results screen:
• To see the full display of a record, click on the title in the list.
• To tag up to twenty records for viewing all at one time, use the Tag Records feature
• To see more of the list, use the “NextPage” and “PrevPage” buttons.
• For some items in some databases, click on the “Full text available online” link or icon to view online
the full text of the item described in the record.
• To print or save the list, use your browser’s capabilities.
• To redo the search and limit the records found to certain categories, click on the “Limit Search” button.
• To begin a new search, click on the “Search” button.
E. Tagging Records
Use the following procedure to tag up to twenty records listed in the search results and then view the
records all at one time.
1. On a page of the Search Results, click on the “Tag Record” check box of each entry whose record you
want to view. (To remove a check, click on the box again.)
2. Before you go to another page or view the records, click on the “Save These Tags” button. The Tagged
Record information at the top of the Search Results contains the numbers of the entries that you have
tagged and saved.
3. If you want to tag records on other pages of the Search Results, click on the “NextPage” and “PrevPage”
buttons to go to a page that has entries you want to tag. Then repeat steps 1 and 2. Remember to tag no
more than twenty records total on all pages before you view or clear tags.
4. To view the tagged records that you saved, click on the “Show All Tags” button. FirstSearch displays
the tagged records.
5. To clear all tags so you can tag other entries, click on the “Clear All Tags” button. (FirstSearch
automatically clears all tags when you enter a new search, redo the search with new limits, or choose
F. Viewing Individual Records
Records describe articles, books, and other items that contain information. Some records also contain
summaries (abstracts) or text of items. You view a full record by clicking on its title in a Search Results
Here are the primary options available in a record:
• If necessary, scroll through the screen to view the entire record.
• Click on the “Libraries With Item” button to view a list of libraries that may own the item described in
• Click on the “Get/Display Item” button to get the item described in the record.
• Click on the “E-Mail Record” button to request that the record be sent via E-Mail to the address that you
• For some items in some databases, click on the “Full text available online” link or icon to view online the
full text of the item described in the record.
• Click on the “NextRec” or “PrevRec” button to see the next or previous record in the search results list.
• Print or save the record using your browser’s capabilities.
• Click on the “Results” button to return to the Search Results list.
• Click on the “Search” button to begin a new search.
G. Obtaining Items
In some databases, FirstSearch lets you order the items (books, articles, etc.) described in records found by
your searches. The “Get/Display Item” button appears in the full record when you can order an item. For most items, you have a choice of delivery methods, options, and prices (supplier fees). One or more of the
following delivery methods may be available: displaying the item online, ordering the item from a supplier,
or sending an interlibrary loan request for the item to your library. Most often, interlibrary loan will be
the best option.
Supplier fees include order processing, delivery, and copyright and royalty fees. They may not include
sales tax, if applicable, or international delivery charges. These fees are not subsidized by the Sibley
Library, and are the responsibility of the person requesting the item. To avoid unnecessary cost to yourself,
be sure to check Voyager before placing the request, or contact the Interlibrary Loan Department for
assistance, to be sure the item is not available locally for no charge.
1. View the record for the item you want by clicking on the item’s title in the Search Results list.
2. Click on the Get/Display Item button at the top of the record to view a list of the available delivery
methods for the item.
One or more of the following methods may be available:
•Screen Display (FirstSearch displays the item’s text online immediately.)
•E-mail (A supplier sends the text later via E-mail.) •Fax or Rush Fax (A supplier faxes the text later.)
•Interlibrary Loan (Your library gets the item for you from another library
•Mail or Rush Mail (A supplier mails the text.)
3. Click on the button for the method you want and FirstSearch displays a list of available options and
prices (in U.S. dollars). (Or, click on the Cancel button to return to the record without ordering.)
4. Click on the cost and option you want and then click on the Continue button. (Or, click on the button
for another method and FirstSearch displays its options and prices. Or, click on the Cancel button to
return to the record without ordering.)
5. If you choose the Screen Display method, FirstSearch displays the text of the item.
If you choose any other method, FirstSearch displays an order form to let you supply information needed to
process your request.
H. Further Help
1. Online help is available by clicking on the “Help” button on the top of each screen.
2. Ask at the Reference Desk for assistance, or send email to Phil Ponella at: