Library and Information Networks for Knowledge

Searching the WHO Library Database (WHOLIS)


Basic approaches to searching

In order to search the WHO Library Database, you will enter keywords on one or more lines of the search grid and view the resulting bibliography. In most Library databases, a search would give you a list of books in the library. However, as you have seen in "Contents of the WHO Library Database", WHOLIS contains many types of documentation, not just books. For many of the records, the WHO Library database provides full text links to the item. So in general, when doing searches, be sure to click on View to see the full reference. Only by looking at the full reference can you identify the item and access the full text link if it is present.

A. How to search for an author

Click the cursor into the second line of the search grid labelled Author and type in the last name of the author and then the first initial or first name if you know it.
Click on Search Catalogue or press Enter.
If the database has an exact match for what you entered, you will see a list of brief bibliographic references. Click on View to see the full reference. At the top of the screen, click on Forward to continue through the list of references. Click on Backward to go back to the brief list or on New Search to start over. As you view the list of references, you can mark the ones you want to print, download or email by clicking in the small box next to "Keep".
If the database does not have an exact match for what you typed in, it will offer you a list of alternatives.

B. How to search for a title

Tip:
If there is an unusual word in the title you can often find the record very quickly with one word. For example for the title: "Health and well-being under one umbrella", typing in "umbrella" will bring the record up.
Click on Search Catalogue or press Enter.
If the database has an exact match for what you entered, you will see a list of brief bibliographic references. Click on View to see the full reference. At the top of the screen, click on Forward or Backward to move through the list of references. Click on Go Back to go back to the brief list or on New Search to start over. As you view the list of references, you can mark the ones you want to print, download or email by clicking in the small box next to "Keep".

C. How to search for a subject

Some Information on Subject Headings.
Using subject headings is much better than using keywords in searches; keywords can have variations in spelling or tense while subject headings are always uniform.
WHO Library staff assign uniform subject headings to each record in the database, using a carefully controlled thesaurus MEDICAL SUBJECT HEADINGS or MeSH which is maintained by the United States National Library of Medicine. Many big medical or public health libraries in the world use MeSH subject headings in their library databases. The same subject headings are used in the MEDLINE database.
Some of the books in the WHO Library have subjects outside the scope of MeSH and for those books, subject headings established by the United Nations are used.
Records for WHO documentation also include the Broad Subject Headings used in the WHO Representatives modules.
Sometimes it is difficult to know what would be the best subject heading for your search. Some ways to determine the best subject headings are:

  • Ask a librarian or information professional to help you
  • Look in the list of Medical Subject Headings issued by the US National Library of Medicine. These reference books are kept in libraries or you can use the "Mesh Browser"
  • Find one record that is particularly relevant and look at its subject headings. Begin a new search using one of these subject headings
  • Consult the WHODOC concordance
  • WHO staff can use the OVID system which has a subject mapping software that helps the user to formulate the search

Then to search by subject, click the cursor into the fourth line of the search grid labelled Subject and type a few subject words.
Click on Search Catalogue or press Enter.
You can also type a keyword in the subject grid and it will be referred to the relevant records.
If the database has an exact match for what you entered, you will see a list of brief bibliographic references. Click on View to see the full reference. At the top of the screen, click on Forward or Backward to move through the list of references. Click on Go Back to go back to the brief list or on New Search to start over. As you view the list of references, you can mark the ones you want to print, download or email by clicking in the small box next to "Keep".
If the database does not have an exact match for what you typed in, it will offer you a list of alternatives.
Tip:
Always watch out for the phrase "Cross reference" at the beginning of your search results. Clicking on it will lead you to related items. This is especially valid for subject and author searches.

D. How to find out if a periodical is in the WHO library collections

Click the cursor into the last line of the search grid labelled Periodical Title and type a few words from the title. You do not need to type in the entire title. You can also type in the MEDLINE abbreviation of the title. Click on Search Catalogue or press Enter.
If the database has an exact match for what you entered, the bibliographic records for the title will be displayed. If the match is not exact but close, you will see a listing of periodical titles. Click on View next to the correct title. If the database does not have an exact match for what you typed in, it will offer you a list of alternatives.

The Line "Volume/date range" shows the holdings which are in the WHO Libary periodicals stacks; "current year in CAR" means that the latest issues of the periodical are kept in the WHO Library Current Awareness Room.
The Line "Latest Issues:" lists the last three issues of the periodical which were accessioned in the WHO Library.
You can only use this search to find out if the WHO Library has a particular periodical. You cannot use it to search for the author title of an article in a journal. For this kind of search, use MEDLINE.

E. How and when to search the whole record using "words and phrases

Searches are more focused if you use the lines labelled author, title, subject or periodical title as outlined above. You can search all the words in all of the records in the database at the same time by clicking the cursor into the first line labelled Words or Phrases. This is a useful approach for searching when you are looking for something very specific or for a bit of information that is not part of the author, title or subject.
For example:
If you enter 49p you will see all records of books or documents that have 49 pages. Type in "slides" to retrieve all books that contain slide sets.

F. How to use search options to limit your search

If you get too many hits on a search, using the Search Limits can help.

  • In publication year:
    • you can specify one year of publication i.e. 1994
      or
    • you can specify that the year of publication be greater than or less than a year i.e. ›1994 or ‹1994
      or
    • you can specify a range of publication years i.e. 1992-1994
  • Language records are entered in the WHO Library database in English, French or Spanish so this search option works best for these three languages. See the section on searching tips for information on how to find other language translations.
  • Type can also be specified as follows:
    • Analytic = articles in WHO periodicals
    • AV = videocassettes
    • Document = WHO governing body, technical documents or press info
    • E-File = CD-ROMs
    • E-Journal = online journals
    • Monograph = books
    • Periodical = printed journals
  • Location can be useful for if you wish to limit your search to books in the WHO library historical collection by choosing the location "HIST COLL".

G. some additional search information

Using a truncation symbol:
The truncation symbol for the database is $. You can truncate words when searching to pick up all forms of the word. For example, "adolesc$" will bring up adolescence as well as adolescent.
Finding country information:
Click the cursor into the search grid labelled Subject then type in the name of the country. If you get too many hits, use the search options to limit your search.
Finding translations of WHO publications into other languages:
Separate records are entered in the database for English, French and Spanish documentation. If you are looking for a French or Spanish translation, type in the English title. The French and Spanish titles appear in the English record as hypertext links.
For other language translations go to the English language record, scroll down to the field "Language version". You will find three letter abbreviations for the languages into which the item has been translated. If the only language indicated is "eng", English, then the item has been in issued in English only.
You can use the Words and Phrases approach to type in a language abbreviation such as "lao" for Laotian. The system will find all records with this string so that you will have a list of all WHO monographs translated into Laotian.
Finding WHO documents:
Click the cursor into the first line of the search grid labelled "Words or Phrases". Type in the WHO document number. The record for that document will appear. Since the document number is the same on all language versions, when you type it in, if the document has been translated into French and Spanish, you will get three hits, one for each language version. Look for the line in the bibliographic record labelled "Electronic Access" which give access to the full text of the document.
Searching for charters, declarations or conventions:
The names of charters, declarations, and conventions have been entered in the bibliographic records. Click the cursor into the first line of the search grid labelled "Words or Phrases". Type a few words from the name of the charter.
For example:
If you type in "Edinburgh declaration", the result will show records of documents which contain this declaration.

Finding videocassettes:
Click the cursor into the fourth line of the search grid labelled Subject; enter the term "videocassettes". Enter a keyword on the line labelled "Words or Phrases".

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