How to…?



… get/validate a Library card.

Valid Library cards are required to borrow books.  They are also necessary to request books from OhioLINK, and to access other OhioLink resources.  Library cards are available to seminarians, faculty and staff, and to students currently enrolled in courses offered by the Seminary. The information necessary for obtaining a Library card is a current address and phone number, an email address, and the name of the program in which you are enrolled.  Cards are valid until August 31, at which time they must be renewed.  This is the opportunity for the Library to update, if necessary, your Library card information, as well as to address issues such as fines and bills, overdue and lost books, or other matters related to your use of the Library.  Please see a staff member if your card needs to be renewed.

… access your library record online.

A summary of your Library account is available 24/7 at  In the upper right-hand portion of the screen, find and click on the Login button, then enter your last name and library card number.  Here you will find a list of the items you have checked out and their due dates, your library card expiration date, and the status of books requested.

… scan using the copier in the lower level.

The copy machine in the Library basement is best used as a scanner, with the scanned documents either saved to a USB drive or sent to an email address.  Step-by-step instructions for both these options are posted on the wall behind the copier.  Should you need a paper copy, please see a member of the Library staff.  Paper copies are 5 cents apiece.  USB drives may be purchased at the reception desk in the Lobby for $3.00 for an 8 MB drive.

Helpful Hints:

When scanning one page at a time, orient the top of the page up.

When scanning two pages at a time, orient the top of the page to the left

… find books in the SMS Library.

The SMS catalog is the tool with which to search the book holdings of the Library.  The catalog may be searched by Keyword, Title, Author, Subject, Call #, or by Journal Title.  An Advanced Search button allows the construction of Boolean searches, with limits, wildcards, sort options, etc.  From the catalog, you may also search Books on Reserve, either by Course number or Instructor’s name.  Finally, you may login to your patron record to see which books you have checked out, or to renew material you are already using.

If your search of the SMS catalog indicates the Library does not own a desired item, you may extend your search to the OhioLINK central catalog, a tool that includes 121 academic libraries in Ohio.  Search options in the OhioLINK catalog mirror those available in the SMS catalog.  Once you have identified an OhioLINK item you wish to borrow, simply click the green “Request” button beneath the Library Holdings title.  You will be prompted to select your school or institution.  After submitting this choice, you will be prompted for your name (last, first) and barcode number.  A reply message will indicate if your request was successful.  An unsuccessful request usually indicates that a copy is already available at your institution.

… search/request from the SearchOhio catalog.

If, after searching the OhioLINK catalog for a title, there are no items available, it is possible to extend your search to Ohio public libraries via SearchOhio.  On the OhioLINK results screen, just above the listing of titles, is the SearchOhio icon, which, when clicked, will automatically submit your search to a network of 45 Ohio public libraries systems.  The process of requesting items from SearchOhio mirrors the process in OhioLINK.

… renew books online.

To renew your books online, first access the SMS Library catalog  Using the Login button, or clicking on the My Record tab, enter your Username (last name) and Password (card number).  The system will allow you to renew books when they are within 5 days of their due date.  Patrons are not permitted to renew their books online after they are overdue.  SMS books may be renewed twice, for 3 weeks each time.  OhioLINK books may be renewed four times.

… find Reserve books.

Reserve books are items whose status, at the request of a faculty member, is temporarily changed from circulating to non-circulating.  The rationale behind this change is to ensure that all members of a class have access to the book, and that its use is not monopolized by the one person who has checked it out.  Reserve books are located on the two ranges of shelving immediately outside the Librarian’s office.  They are arranged alphabetically by instructor’s name, then by course number.  Items on Reserve are designated “Library Use Only” and may not be checked out.

… search the Library.

Search strategies are based on an understanding of how the information about items in the library is structured.  Briefly, each item has a corresponding bibliographic record, which is composed of multiple fields, describing author, title, call number, publisher, publication date, subject, etc.  Depending upon what you know about a desired item, you may limit your search to specific fields (ex. author, title, etc.).

However, if you have only a general idea of the subject you are investigating, you may choose to do a subject or a keyword search.  The distinction between subject searching and keyword searching is described by introducing the concepts of pre-coordination and post-coordination.  Pre-coordination is the combination of elements by a subject cataloger into one heading in anticipation of a search on that compound heading (ie. Topic – Geographic area – Time period – Form). Subject headings are created in this fashion, and it results in a controlled search vocabulary.  Results from searching the subject heading fields tend to be narrower and more focused, yielding more relevant “hits”.  If you desire precision in your search results, a subject search is an appropriate strategy.

Post-coordination is the combination, via Boolean operators, of potentially relevant terms or keywords generated by a searcher at the time he/she looks for materials in a catalog.  Keyword searches, employing search strings built using and/or/not, search all terms in a bibliographic record, and constitute an uncontrolled search vocabulary.  Results from a keyword search tend to be broader and less focused, yielding more results, but more irrelevant “hits”. If you wish to make sure you retrieve all potentially relevant material, a keyword search is an appropriate strategy.

Precision and recall may be affected by other factors as well, such as the number of terms included in a search string.  The more terms included, the fewer resulting “hits”, and vice versa.  Knowing this, you can edit your search string to include more/fewer terms, depending on the quantity and quality of the results of the previous search.

Incorporating synonyms into your search strategy may also be a fruitful strategy.  For example, if your search on the term Our Father yields disappointing results, try searching by the term Lord’s Prayer.

Similarly, employing broader or narrower terminology can result in more satisfactory results.  If your search for Canines results in an overwhelming number of results, try searching for Dogs, or even Beagles, to better manage your search results.

Including and manipulating other search criteria, such as date, document type, language, publication type, full-text, etc. can further refine your search results.

People often think that when they conduct a search and come up with no satisfactory results, they did something wrong.  But there are no search errors.  Searching is like fishing.  If you try something and get no results, you use that information to modify your next search.  This feedback loop will gradually yield satisfactory results.

… access databases on- and off-campus.

The easiest way to access the databases most relevant to SMS students, on- or off-campus, is to open the Seminary website and under the Library tab, click on the Search button.  There you will find:

Atla Religion Database
AtlaSerials PLUS, Religion Collection
New Testament Abstracts
Old Testament Abstracts

Academic Search Complete
Dissertations Abstracts
Humanities International Complete
Religion and Philosophy Collection

These databases are also accessible from the Library catalog via links imbedded in the individual bibliographic records.

Additional databases available off-campus may be accessed from the “Research Databases” tab on the OhioLINK main page

… find journal articles.

Databases, also called periodical indexes, are the tools with which to search the journal literature.  In addition to searching with topical descriptors or subject terms, databases present multiple options for creating a search string.  You may limit your search to records with linked full text, by year published, by publication type, by language, or to particular peer-reviewed journals.  You may specify which fields to search, and the relationships between those fields.  Multiple indexes exist for browsing, including, in the case of religious databases, a scriptures index.  Also, an extensive series of HELP screens are available to assist when encountering something unexpected.

One caveat to keep in mind with respect to searching the journal literature is that there is a lag time between the time an article is published and the time it appears in a database, a delay that can range from months to years, depending upon the journal and the database involved.  Another point to be mindful of is that some journal publishers “embargo” the full-text versions of articles they publish, meaning they impose a delay, ranging from three months to five years, on access to the full-text version online.

… find articles on scripture passages.

Searching the ATLA Religion Database (ATLA RDB) is the most straightforward way of identifying articles on specific scripture passages.  Once at the ATLA RDB main page, note two tabs included in the red menu bar, the Scriptures tab and the Indexes tab.  Pressing the Scriptures tab takes you to a listing of the books in the Bible, followed by the word [Expand].  Clicking on the name of the book (ex. Genesis) will retrieve all articles related to Genesis.  Clicking on the [Expand] tab opens a submenu listing individual chapters in Genesis.  Clicking on Chapter 1 retrieves all articles related to Genesis, Chapter 1.  Clicking on [Expand] again opens another submenu listing individual verses in Chapter 1.  Clicking on Verse 1 retrieves all articles related to Genesis, Chapter 1, Verse 1.  At this point, (or earlier if you prefer), you may use the menu on the left side of the screen to limit your search results by full-text, date range, source type, etc.

The Indexes tab presents a different view of the articles on scripture passages.  Pressing the Indexes tab takes you to a two-part search screen, with the Search bar on top and the index selection menu below.  Begin by selecting Bible Citation from the Browse an Index drop-down menu, then press the Browse button.  This takes you to a list of the actual scriptural descriptors used in the database with a listing of how many records use that descriptor (ex. Mark 10:1 – 10:12 has a record count of 15).  Select the one/s of interest by marking the check box, then press the add button.  Your search terms are added to the Search bar in the top part of the screen.  Then pressing the large, grey Search button will take you to the relevant articles.  Limits are available here as well.

Articles with the full-text available will be indicated either by a Full Text button, or by a red PDF Full Text link.

Two other databases, available on-campus, (New Testament Abstracts and Old Testament Abstracts), have similar structures and search capabilities.  But they differ from the ATLA RDB in one minor way — instead of using the name Bible Citation for their scripture index, they use the name Scripture Reference.

… connect wirelessly to the internet.

The seminary uses a filtering product called Barracuda to monitor internet usage.  All seminarians and faculty are assigned an individual Barracuda username and password.  Non-seminarian students and guests can connect to the internet onsite via a guest password, which is available by contacting the Librarian.