The Complete Guide to PamCat


PamCat, PRL's online catalog


The Basics


How do I log in?

What's my password/PIN?

How do I do a basic search?

What are Boolean search operators?

When do I need to use quotation marks in searches?


How do I log in to PamCat?

  1. Go to
  2. In the login box at the top of the page, enter your library card number.  If you have a library card with a number that includes spaces, enter the number without spaces.
  3. Enter your password/PIN.  If you have never logged in before, or if you've never changed your password/PIN, it will be changeme.
  4. Click the "Login to My Account" button.
  5. If you have problems logging in, call any branch library or e-mail

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What's my password/PIN?

  • If you have never logged in before, or if you've never changed your password/PIN, it will be changeme.
  • After logging in with changeme, be sure to change it to a unique password/PIN.
  • Your PIN/password must be 10 characters or less.
  • You may not be able to change your PIN/password if you have overdue books or late fines.
  • If you need to reset your password/PIN, call any branch library or e-mail

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How do I do a basic search?

  1. Enter your search terms in the search box (ex. To Kill a Mockingbird")
  2. Using the drop down menu, you can search for everything, author, title, subject, or series.
  3. If you're doing an author search, it's better to use last name, first name (ex. Lee, Harper)
  4. Periodical title searching is not currently available, but if you want to search for magazines, use a title search.
  5. You can also tell the catalog to search by keyword, browse, or exact options.  "Keyword" finds records that contain the words entered.  "Browse" finds links to names, titles and subject headings close to the words entered. "Exact" finds records that exactly match words in the order they are entered.
  6. Here's what a basic search looks in PamCat (for titles with cats as a subject at the Mechanicsville Library):

basic search example

(Click on the thumbnail to enlarge)


If you're looking for subject heading terms to use try this helpful explanation of the Dewey Decimal Classification System.


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What's a Boolean search operator?


Boolean search operators tell PamCat to look for search terms in specific relationships.  They are the words: AND, OR, NOT, WITH and NEAR.

  • bears NOT Berenstain will give you items about bears but will not include the Berenstain Bears series.
  • Chicago WITH history will return items with historical aspects of Chicago.
  • Virginia NEAR Williamsburg will return a variety of items related to Williamsburg, Virginia.
  • Flowers OR Trees will give you an expanded list of items that  include either of these words.
  • Flowers AND Trees limits your search to only items that contain both words and will give you a smaller number of results.

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When do I need to use quotation marks in searches?


If a title contains one of the Boolean operators, it is necessary to do a Keyword title search using quotations.  For example, using "And Never Let Her Go" tells PamCat to search for the phrase, not individual words, and will give you the correct results.


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What else would you like to know?


My Account

How do I review my account?

How do I renew my materials?

How do I change my password?

How do I renew my card?

What are "My Favorites?"


How do I place a hold?

What's the difference between "Hold" & "Keep?"

How can I get books you don't have?

Advanced Search

How do I search for certain items?

What is a Browse search?

What is a Call Number search?

Special Features

Where can I find New Arrivals?

How do I use Explore Subjects?

Kids' Library

How do I search the Kids' Library?

PamCat FAQ

When is PamCat available?

Where can I find bestseller and other reading lists?

What are known technical issues with PamCat? 



Branch Libraries


Richard S. Gillis, Jr.
Ashland Branch Library

201 S. Railroad Avenue


Atlee Branch Library
9161 Atlee Road


Goochland Branch Library
3075 River Road West


Hanover Branch Library
7527 Library Drive


King & Queen Branch Library
396 Newtown Road


Mechanicsville Branch Library
7461 Sherwood Crossing Place


Lois Wickham Jones
Montpelier Branch Library

17205 Sycamore Tavern Lane


Cochrane Rockville Branch Library
16600 Pouncey Tract Road


Upper King William Branch Library
694-J Sharon Road


West Point Branch Library
721 Main Street


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