At the end of this module, you will be able to:
- use Library of Congress subject headings to find items in the library catalogue
- locate government documents in the catalogue
- locate conference proceedings in the catalogue
- use truncation and wildcards in your catalogue searches.
LC Subject Headings
There are two ways to search for general information on your research topic in the Library's online catalogue.
The first of these is to use keywords and the second is to use subject headings.
While Keyword searching is relatively simple, it is also inexact. You can easily miss relevant items, as your choice of keyword may not fit the terminology used in the title or other information about an item. It is difficult when using only keyword searches to narrow your results to items on your exact topic.
The Library's online catalogue, like most library catalogues, use the system of subject heading developed by the US Library of Congress (LC). Unfortunately, the LC subject headings do not usually refer to everyday language. If you need information about the Whitlam Government in the 1970s, the subject headings you require are Australia Politics and government 1972-1975 and Australian Labor Party History 20th century.
It is also possible to find the correct Library of Congress subject headings using a Keyword search in the online catalogue.
Follow these steps:
- Enter your keyword in the Keyword search box in the catalogue.
- Click on the Search button.
- Click on the More link next to the most relevant match.
- Click on the relevant Subject heading. The catalogue will then display a link which will take you to all items on this subject.
Using this method you can find the right subject heading very quickly.
The following subject headings can be added to many searches:
|Australia||Combine country names with standard subject headings such as history, economic conditions, social conditions and politics|
Australia. Economic conditions
|Bibliography||Combine this term with the subject to find a bibliography on your topic||Warfare. Bibliography|
|Congresses||Combine this term with another subject to find conference proceedings||Greenhouse effect. Congresses|
|Criticism and interpretation||Combine this term with the name of an author or the title of a work to find literacy criticism||Lawson, Louisa, 1848-1920. Criticism and interpretation|
|Dictionaries||Combine this terms with the name of a language or a particular academic discipline to find reference works||German Language. Dictionaries |
|Economic conditions||Combine this subject heading with the names of cities, countries, states or particular groups in society||New South Wales. Economic conditions|
|History||Combine this with another subject to find historical works||New Zealand. History|
|Periodicals||Combine this with another subject heading to find relevant journals||Australian History. Periodicals|
|Politics and government||Combine this with the name of a country or political unit||New Zealand.Politics and Government|
|Social conditions||Combine this subject heading with the names of cities, countries, states or particular groups in society||Indonesia. Social Conditions|
|Statistics||Combine this subject heading with one or more subject headings to find statistical information on your topic||New South Wales. Economic Conditions. Statistics|
Finding government documents
If you know the exact title of a government report, you can do an ordinary Title search. At other times, an Author search will help. Most government publications are usually considered to have a corporate author. If you are looking for a publication issued by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), try an Author search.
If you are not certain of the exact title of the report or the body which issued the report, use a Keyword search.
Keyword searches are very useful when a report is best known under the name of the principal author or the chair of the commitee responsible for the report. If you perform a Title search on the Garnaut Report, you will draw a blank. A Keyword search for
Garnaut AND report
will find the item under its official title: Australia and the Northeast Asian Ascendancy.
Searching for conference proceedings
The easiest way of searching for conference proceedings is to use a simple Keyword search.
If, for example, you wished to search for the proceedings of the First International Persimmon Symposium, you could use a Keyword search for
International AND Persimmon AND symposium.
This would immediately give you the details of this particular item, which is found at 635/A188/no.436.
Truncation and wildcards
The asterisk * is used to replace one or more characters at the end of a word: austral* will find australia or australian or australia's or australasian.
Wildcards can also be used. The wildcard "?" replaces a single character and is useful for spelling variations: wom?n will find woman or women; w??en will find women, woven, woken; ho? will find hop, hog, hot, and how.
Searching library catalogues world-wide
By searching the online catalogues of other libraries, you can discover new resources in the form of books, theses, journals, newspapers and magazines.
Online catalogues can also assist when you have a partial or incorrect reference to an item you need. The following libraries are particularly useful in this regard:
For those with foreign language skills, foreign-language library catalogues are often indispensable. Some useful starting points include:
- BnF: English-language interface for the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF).
- Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog (KVK): The KVK allows for simultaneous searching of dozens of German-language library catalogs from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The site includes links to other national and union catalogues across the world.
WorldCat holds over 1.2 billion items, consisting of the combined holdings of more than 10,000 libraries world-wide. The WorldCat.org search interface provides you with immediate access to this resources through a Google-like search interface.
Finding Australian library catalogues
The simplest method is to go direct to the institution's Web site and find the online catalogue.
Another approach is to use the Australia Libraries Gateway.
The Gateway has a searchable database of links to the online catalogue of many Australian libraries, including local government libraries. The last can be particularly useful for local history.
Libraries Australia provides access to the National Bibliographic Database. This includes the combined holdings of the major Australian libraries (university libraries, state libraries and other major research libraries).
Using Libraries Australia
You can use Libraries Australia to find which libraries in Australia hold particular books and journals. In addition, you can use Libraries Australia to discover books that you never knew existed.
For example, enter Armidale in the search box below and click on the Go button. Clicking on the button will take you to a page with information on the libraries in Australia holding this item.
This module dealt with the following topics:
- using the Library of Congress subject headings
- finding government documents in the catalogue
- finding conference proceedings in the catalogue
- using truncation and wildcards.