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Library of Congress Subject Headings

Library of Congress Subject Headings
Finding Library of Congress Subject Headings Tips for Selecting Subject Headings

Non fiction materials included in the HSU Library Catalog (and most other library catalogs) are indexed using Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). From 270,000 possible subject headings an average of 2-3 subjects are assigned to a typical work indexed in a library catalog. If more than 20% of a work is devoted to a subject, it will generally receive a unique subject heading. The advantage of searching with subject headings is that materials with a similar theme are brought together under one valid subject rather than you having to come up with relevant synonyms. LCSH includes over 490,000 cross references pointing to valid subjects.

Finding Library of Congress Subject Headings

You can use the following options to identify valid subject headings:

1. Search LCSH Databases
  • Library of Congress Authorities (Library of Congress) To retrieve all information related to an subject heading click on the red button in front of the heading.
  • Browsing LCSH (Universitätsbibliothek Braunschweig) Search by keyword or phrase; or browse by subject heading.

  • Intertidal
2. Library Catalog Subject Search

Enter a possible subject using the library catalog Subject search option. On the resulting screen you will see a list of subjects that come closest to what you entered. You may also see additional notes and referrals to other subjects as described below. See Drama as an example.

  • See references to official subject headings
  • See Also references to other closely related subjects
  • See Also Under references to other groups of related subjects
  • Narrower Terms for more specific subjects under which to search
  • Notes containing additional search suggestions and heading definitions

3. Library Catalog Keyword Search

Enter keywords for your subject using either the Basic or Advanced search option. Review the search results and look at the full display of items that come closest to what you are looking for. The Subjects: field under each item lists the subject headings under which the item is cataloged. Search these directly by clicking on the link or redo your search incorporating them into your search strategy.

Library Catalog Subjects

Tips for Selecting Subject Headings