When you "tag" an item online or enter your own keywords into a
search box, you may be using your own personal system of categories.
Online databases often also use subject categories according to a
system of their own devising which may have its own internal logic but
may not necessarily correspond with those in other databases. Library
of Congress subject headings are a controlled set of standardized
keywords used to describe bibliographic items in virtually all research
university libraries. They can therefore be useful in locating items in
and in the WorldCat union catalog or any individual university catalog.
Use them to find items for which you do not have author or title
information or to extend your search beyond known items. They are very
useful but, like everything else, not 100% reliable. Note the
- No title has every possible subject heading assigned to its catalog record; usually only one or two.
- Given the fluidity of academic discourse, LC subject headings may
not correspond precisely to categories now in currency in the
Here are some techniques for using the subject headings
in EUCLID searches.
- To limit your search to reference works. Type
the subject heading (minus the dashes) into the Subject
field in the Complex Search screen and select Reference
in the Location field.
- To generate an alphabetical list of related subject
headings beginning with the one you type into the
search field: In Quick Search, click the Browse radio
button then click the Subject button. Indicated in parentheses
will be the number of items in the catalog that have
the subject heading in their record. Click the subject
heading to see those items listed. This technique is
useful to find related subject headings in case the
one you use is attached to no items or few items.
- To limit your search: If relevant, you can limit to a specific geographical
location. Type in the subject
heading and add the geographical location (e.g., History + India).
- To expand your search. Type the subject heading
keywords into the Quick Search screen minus the dashes
and use truncation and the wildcard symbol $ (e.g.,
anthropolog$ religio$). Click the Keyword radio button
and then the Subject button.
- To find relevant items lacking subject headings.
your search does generate some hits, many of the items missed will
likely be in the same call number range(s) as items you do find. Note the
call numbers of relevant items in the search results list, and use the
Browse Shelf screen to look for others. Use only the first part of the
call number, before the first decimal point, to start with; if that
places you in the wrong place, try using the call number up to the
second decimal point (eliminating all spaces), and so on.