How does Summon compare to the QCAT Library Catalogue?

The QCAT Library Catalogue is the main inventory of books, journal titles (print and online), media, and other documents held in the Queen’s University Library collection.   It contains over 2.3 million records.

Summon is a search engine that searches every record in QCAT, plus 100+ million scholarly articles and online records. It was implemented in 2010.

Summon excels at quick keyword searches ("what does the library have on this topic?") and lookups ("does the library own this?").

QCAT provides more control over which field you are searching (journal title, series title, call number), which is useful for some searches.


  • Searches articles — contains 100+ million journal and newspaper articles
  • Relevance ranking of search results
  • “Did you mean?” suggestions for spelling errors and typos
  • Scholarly article limit — limit to articles from scholarly publications, including peer-review
  • Online full-text limit — limit results to items immediately available online ("Limit to items with full text online")
  • Use various "refine your search" filters to refine results

QCAT Library Catalogue

  • Precise field searching — e.g. "journal title exact"
  • Browse by subject headings — e.g. “Folklore -- Bibliography”
  • My Library Account — view and renew loans, place holds, etc.
  • Course Reserve listings
  •  Use advanced search limits to refine results

Summon and QCAT

  • Search by title, author or keyword
  • Support boolean search — AND, OR, NOT, "phrase search"
  • Limit by library location, language
  • Search and sort by publication date

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