Where to Look- no Calispher
Electronic access- All formats can be searched on Oskicat (the University of California Berkeley Library’s online catalog). The catalog description will include information about the creator, extent of collection, subjects, any restrictions as to use, collection specific notes, and also will indicate location of material (onsite, NRLF). More extensive groupings of materials, including manuscripts and pictorial material may have detailed finding aids that will provide more detailed information about the contents of the collection.
Because manuscript and archival collections are often quite voluminous and contain unique materials, a finding aid, e.g., inventory, box list, or other summary of the intellectual organization of the collection is often available to help a researcher determine the contents of the materials. Finding aids provide an overview of how the collection is organized. It often includes a biographical or historical note about the creator, a scope and content note about what is in the collection, and a container listing. Most of these are available online at the Online Archive of California. If an online version of the finding aid does exist you will see a link to it in the catalog record. Print copies of the finding aids are also kept in the Reading Room of the Bancroft Library.
Online Archive of California (OAC)
The Online Archive of California is a digital information resource that facilitates and provides access to materials such as manuscripts, photographs, and works of art held in libraries, museums, archives, and other institutions across California. The OAC includes a single, searchable database of "finding aids" to primary sources and to their digital facsimiles which are selectively available. Describing primary sources in detail, finding aids are the guides and inventories to collections in archives, museums, libraries and historical societies. Access to the finding aid is essential for understanding the content of a collection and for determining whether it is likely to satisfy your research needs.
For more information on using the Finding Aids on the OAC see: http://oac.cdlib.org/help/detailedhelp.html#guides.
For more information on primary resources see: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/instruct/guides/primarysources.html
Finding Primary Sources in Oskicat and on the OAC
Some things to remember:
Archival collections are NOT cataloged at the item level. Just because you can't find a catalog record for a letter from Alice Waters to Dianne Kennedy doesn't mean the letter doesn't exist. Searching for Alice Waters as the author in Oskicat takes you to the catalog record for the Chez Panisse Records.
Now click the link to the OAC finding aid
Which brings you to an online version of the Finding Aid to the collection
Now try searching for "Dianne Kennedy" in the Finding Aid
Not only does the finding aid show you there is correspondence between Waters and Kennedy now you know where to find it (Box 1, folder 17).