MERLIN FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

What is MERLIN?

The MERLIN Library Catalog is the online library catalog that includes the collections of the following Missouri libraries: University of Missouri (MU), MU Law, University of Missouri-Kansas City, University of Missouri-Kansas City Law, Missouri University of Science and Technology, University of Missouri-St. Louis, and the State Historical Society of Missouri.

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What does MERLIN search?

The MERLIN catalog searches for books, periodicals (scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers), DVDs, CDs, government documents, and other formats of scholarly material that are part of the tangible and online collections at MERLIN member libraries. MERLIN does not search the full text of books, and it does not search for articles within periodicals.

Some material in the MERLIN catalog is only available at one individual library, for example, electronic books available only to users at one campus, databases accessible to users at UMKC, and books available for on-demand library purchase for MU users.

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What is MOBIUS?

MOBIUS (Missouri Bibliographic Information User System) is a consortium of libraries in the state of Missouri. The membership includes 62 full members from colleges, universities, the Missouri State Library, and 2 public libraries (cooperating partners). Map of MOBIUS member libraries

MOBIUS was created to allow students, faculty and staff at member libraries to borrow books from other member libraries. The MOBIUS Union Catalog is a shared online catalog which allows users to search the holdings of all member libraries. The MOBIUS catalog includes over 18 million items.

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Borrowing Books from Missouri Libraries

What may I borrow through MERLIN/MOBIUS?

Students, faculty, and staff of member libraries may borrow books through the MOBIUS system. Please note that some videotapes, music CDs, and DVDs may be requested by specific libraries. Periodical titles are not requestable.

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When should I use MOBIUS?

  • Use MOBIUS when a book you need is not available at your library or at another library in the MERLIN cluster of libraries.
  • Use MOBIUS when you wish to pick up any book at a MOBIUS library outside of MERLIN. For example, if you are a student at any University of Missouri campus but you will be living in Kirksville over the summer, use MOBIUS to find books you wish to have sent to you at Truman State University (in Kirksville).

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How do I request a book from MERLIN?

Begin your search in the MERLIN Library Catalog for your school or library.

If you do not find the book(s) you need, expand your search to the entire MERLIN Library Catalog by selecting "ALL MERLIN" in the dropdown menu next to the search box.

Once you have located a title you want to borrow, click: Request

At the next screen:

  • You will be given instructions to log in using your campus e-mail username or your name and 8-digit EMPL ID (or student number).
  • Once logged in, choose a Pickup Location from drop-down menu. This indicates where you want the book sent.
  • Click Submit. The system will respond with a message telling you that the item is being sent. IF YOU HAVE DIFFICULTY, PLEASE ASK A LIBRARIAN FOR HELP.

If you still do not find an available copy of the book(s) you need, click: New MOBIUS Search and continue to MOBIUS.

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How do I request a book from MOBIUS?

Once you have located a title you want to borrow, click: Request

Log in using your preferred login method.

At the next screen:

  • Choose a Pickup Cluster from the first drop-down menu. You may pick up the book at any MOBIUS library that is convenient to you, but you must know what cluster it is part of.
  • Choose a Pickup Location from the second drop-down menu. (The libraries on this list are those belonging to the cluster you just selected.) This indicates where you want the book sent.
  • Submit your request. The system will respond with a message telling you that the item is being sent. IF YOU ARE HAVING DIFFICULTY, PLEASE ASK A LIBRARIAN FOR HELP.

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How quickly will the books I request arrive?

Books usually arrive at the location you specify within two to four business days.

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How long will I be able to keep books that I borrow?

If the book(s) are from a MERLIN Library, the length of time you can keep it/them is different depending upon your status as undergraduate student, graduate student, faculty, or staff, and on the type of material being checked out. Please check with your home library for this information.

Example: MU Libraries loan periods

If the book(s) are from a MOBIUS (non-MERLIN) Library, they are checked out for 21 days.

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May I renew a MOBIUS (non-MERLIN) book?

Two 21-day renewals are permitted unless another patron has requested the book.

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Will I receive a bill for MOBIUS books that I don't return on time?

Yes. Your library follows its normal notification and billing procedures for overdue or lost materials. For more information, contact your library. Please be aware that the charge for a lost MOBIUS book is $120.00.

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How many books can I have out at one time?

See rules for your individual campus. Example: MU loan rules (last row of table)

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I don't have time to wait for the book to arrive! Can I visit another library and check out the book there?

Yes, you may check out books at other MERLIN or MOBIUS libraries as a visiting patron. You must present your valid student, faculty or staff identification card at the MERLIN or MOBIUS library you wish to borrow materials from. Note: You must be in good standing with your home library to use this service.

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How do I know which library owns the book I need?

When you view the full entry for an item, you will see a column marked "Location". Here you will find the name of each library that owns the item. Click on the location code for a map or explanation.

If you are searching the comprehensive MOBIUS catalog, you will see listings for libraries in all of the clusters statewide. Map and List of MOBIUS libraries by cluster.

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The book I want says the status is "Library Use Only". Does that mean I can't borrow it?

Yes. "Library Use Only" materials are usually reference books, rare books, archival documents, or other special materials that the owning library won't lend. Many of these items can be used by visiting the library that owns them.

For rare books or archival materials, it's a good idea to call ahead to see if special arrangements need to be made. Often rare books and similar materials are kept in special collections which may have more restricted hours and access policies than the general library.

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Help with Searching

What does the Quick Search box do?

The Quick Search box allows you to do the most common types of searches in the MERLIN Library Catalog. Select your desired search type using the radio button. Using the dropdown menu, select a library to search, or choose All MERLIN for a combined search of all four campuses. You may limit your search to available items using the checkbox. Clicking Refine your keyword search by language, year, and more (+) will expand the screen to give you additional ways to focus your search on the most relevant results.

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What does the Limit search to available items checkbox do?

This eliminates from your search results any books of which all local copies are checked out, and any book not yet on the shelves.

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I found too many items with my search.

Here are some ways that you can decrease the number of items you retrieve:

  • Put your search words in quotation marks if you want to find items that include those words as an exact phrase. Example: "born to run" instead of just born to run.
  • Quickly look through the first and/or second pages of titles to find one that looks like it is a good match for your topic.
    • Click on that title.
    • When viewing the entry for the selected item (book, videotape, etc.), look at the links in the Subjects part of the record. Find a subject heading that would be useful as a search term and click on it. That will automatically perform a SUBJECT search for the topic.
  • Do a SUBJECT search instead of a keyword search. LC Subject searches cover a standardized list of terms and do not search other fields, such as author, table of contents, note, etc.
  • Use the: Modify Search button to narrow to a particular publication year or years, material type, language, words in title, etc. For example, you can have the computer rerun a search on World War II and limit the results to DVDs by selecting DVD-video as your Audio and Video format.
  • Include more than one search term in a KEYWORD search. Your results will be limited to items that contain ALL of your search terms. You may include the word AND between search terms, but it is not required:
    • television and children
    • television children
  • Use the word NOT before a word to eliminate it from your KEYWORD search. The computer will look for items that mention the first term but omit any items that mention the term after the NOT.
    • Recreation not hiking
  • Do a TITLE search instead of a keyword search. Sometimes you can find a handful of books with titles that begin with your topic, e.g. Management. As an alternative, you can select Title from the drop-down box to search for that word in the title of a work. This should also produce fewer results than a keyword search.

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I found too few items with my search.

  • Do a KEYWORD search instead of a LC Subject search. A keyword search covers more fields, such as title, notes, tables of contents, etc.
  • Do a KEYWORD search using the word OR between search terms. This will find items containing at least one of the keywords or phrases. Example: advertising OR marketing
  • Use an asterisk* to truncate or cut off the endings of words. The computer will search for variations of a word by adding an asterisk.
  • Example: train* searches for items containing train or training or trainers or trained
  • Note, however, that if you truncate your search term, and there are too many different words that can be generated (e.g., cat* generates cat, cats, catalog, catalpa, Cathy, category, catnip, catheter, catch, etc.), MERLIN will "give up" and tell you it cannot find any results at all. If this happens, try putting more letters before the asterix or just use OR instead.

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I didn't get anything!

Here are some suggestions if your search gets zero results:

  • Check your spelling. Unfortunately, the computer won't do this for you. You can use an asterisk * if you know at least part of a word.
  • Example: Dostoevsk* (will find Dostoevsky or Dostoevskii)
  • Check your use of the * for truncation, however. If you truncate your search term, and there are too many different words that can be generated (e.g., cat* generates cat, cats, catalog, catalpa, Cathy, category, catnip, catheter, catch, etc.), MERLIN will "give up" and tell you it cannot find any results at all. If this happens, try putting more letters before the asterix or just use OR instead.
  • If you want the computer to fill in more than 5 letters, use two asterisks:
  • Example: totalit** (for a search on totalitarianism)
  • Do a keyword search. This is the most general type of search you can do.
  • Make sure you are doing the correct kind of search. Trying to search for an author's name in the journal name field usually won't work. Check that you have selected the correct kind of search.
  • Do a simple search on fewer keywords. Simplify your search by limiting the number of words you are stringing together.
  • Example: instead of personnel AND training AND computer-assisted instruction AND evaluation, try:
    computer-assisted instruction and evaluation
    training and computer-assisted instruction
  • After searching your own library's MERLIN catalog, expand your search to ALL MERLIN and then to MOBIUS to see if another library has the materials you want.
  • Use the drop-down box to select ALL MERLIN and click Search.
  • For more results, click the MOBIUS button at the top of the screen to perform the same search in the MOBIUS catalog.
  • Contact a librarian for assistance.

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Can I limit my search to recently published material?

Yes. Once you have done a SUBJECT or AUTHOR search, click: Limit/Sort Search On the next screen, you can limit your results to items published after and before a certain year.

Alternatively, you can choose to sort your results by year. Click: Limit/Sort Search and choose Year or Reverse Year from the Sort By: dropdown menu. Your search results will be redisplayed in publication date order.

If you do a KEYWORD search, the results are automatically listed by relevance. However, you can tell the computer to return results in reverse chronological order by selecting "date" from the options just below the Limit search to available items checkbox.

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Can I limit my search to DVD, videotape, etc.?


If you did a KEYWORD search, use the Audio and Video Formats drop-down menu to select your format of choice. You must scroll past all the Audio Formats to reach the Video Formats.

For any other type of search, click: Modify Search from your results list.

Some audio and video formats are available from other libraries via the Request button.

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What does Find Related do?

When you click: Find Related MERLIN will look for items on a similar topic to the item you are looking at. For example, if you are looking at a book about the band U2, using this button will bring up more books about the band, or about rock music in Ireland, by using words from the item's subject heading in a keyword search.

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How can I print, e-mail or download a list of items from the catalog?

  1. Do a search and have the search results on your screen.
  2. Click on the checkbox next to each item you want on the current screen.
  3. Click on Save to Folder to save the records to a folder.
  4. Proceed to subsequent screens and follow the above steps.
  5. Click View Saved Records to view the items you've added to the folder.
  6. Click Select All to select all the items in your folder, or re-select individual items using the checkboxes next to each item. Then click Export Saved
  7. On the next screen, under Send List To, there are options to email the list, "send" it to your screen (for printing) or save it to your Local Disk.

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My Account

What are My Lists?

You can set up and add to custom lists of books and other library materials found in the catalog. These lists are available to you whenever you log in, not just during any one session.

  1. Search the MERLIN catalog.
  2. If your search results have two or more records, check the boxes next to the records you want to save to a list. Select "Save Marked"
    • If you wish to save all the records on the page, select "Save all on Page"
  3. Select View Saved Records
  4. Select Add to My Lists
  5. Login with your campus-wide user ID and password.
  6. Using the Select a list dropdown menu, select a list name or select -Create a new list -
  7. If you have chosen to create a new list, enter the list name.
  8. Clear Saved Records.
  9. Select the Return to My Account button to see if "My Lists" is present on your account screen.

NOTE: If your result list has only one record, follow these steps:

  1. Add to My Lists
  2. Login with your campus-wide user ID and password
  3. From "Select a list" dropdown menu, choose a list name or select "Select a list"
  4. If you have chosen to create a new list, enter the list name.
  5. Clear Saved Records.

Logoff and close the browser to remove your credentials from your browser's history.

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What are Preferred Searches?

Preferred Searches allow you to save a complicated search, to be rerun at a later date. For example, if you'd like to check every so often whether your library has purchased recent books published by university presses, about the environmental history of Missouri, especially its forests and bodies of water, you might create a complicated advanced search like this:

If you would like to run this search again after a few months, without having to remember the whole search, you can save the search as a preferred search. Just click that appears toward the top of your results list screen, next to the Search button. Later on, when you want to rerun the search, just log into your MERLIN account and select Preferred Searches from your list of options. On the next screen you will be able to re-run the search or delete the list.

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What is my Reading History?

Patrons may keep a record of the MERLIN materials that they check out.

To activate reading history:

  1. Log in to My Library Account.
  2. Click Reading History
  3. Activate My Reading History - Click Opt In
  4. After Opting in, all your MERLIN checkouts will be recorded and accessible in Your Reading History (does not apply to MOBIUS books).
  5. If you want to remove items from your reading history fill in the mark box, and click Delete Marked You may also use Delete All
  6. If you want to deactivate Reading History click the Delete All button, and then Opt Out

Please carefully read this disclaimer before opting in to this service:

Reading History is a new feature in My Library Account that allows you to track and list many of the materials you have checked out from the MERLIN (MU, MST, UMKC, UMSL) Libraries. You may choose whether or not you would like this feature enabled within your library account. However, there are some important considerations that you should keep in mind:

  1. The list of items in your Reading History will display only MERLIN (MU, MST, UMKC, UMSL) materials that you have checked out. In other words, nothing that you borrow from MOBIUS or Interlibrary Loan will be included in this Reading History list.
  2. The Reading History list will only include materials you check out from the point that you turn on your Reading History. Materials that were checked out prior to turning on your Reading History will not be included in the list.
  3. The information that you allow to be collected in your Reading History is not protected by any privacy laws. Any records retained by an individual or institution, including your Reading History, could be subpoenaed through the proper legal channels. The UM Libraries will protect a user's privacy to the fullest extent possible. However, under the State of Missouri Records Law, library records are not exempt from disclosure.
  4. Once an item has been returned, the libraries maintain no record of what you borrowed, and library staff have no access to your reading history.
  5. If you are concerned about someone else seeing a list of what you are reading, the safest step is not to turn on your reading history.

Consider these factors prior to agreeing to "Opt In" to your Reading History.

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