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Doing Research at the Library of Congress

A Guide to Subject Searching in a Closed Stacks Library

Thomas Mann, Reference Librarian, Humanities and Social Sciences Division
Washington, DC (Research Guide No. 46)


Portions of this booklet are derived from the author’s books The Oxford Guide to Library Research and Library Research Models, both published by Oxford University Press. We thank the Press for permission to modify this material.

Note to First-Time Users

We recommend that first-time users read each section of this guide in order. The "page turner" links at the bottom of each page will facilitate browsing section by section.

Table of Contents

  1. Overview Sources
  2. Searching the Catalog with Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)
    1. Three Basic Principles of Library of Congress Subject Headings
      1. Uniform heading
      2. Scope-match level of coverage
      3. Specific entry
    2. The Four Ways to Find Proper Subject Headings
      1. Follow cross-references
      2. Alphabetic adjacency of subject terms
      3. Follow subject tracings
      4. "Browse" lists of subdivisions
    3. Additional Tips on Subject Headings
  3. Searching the Catalog with Classification Numbers
  4. Keyword Searches
  5. Citation Searches
  6. Related Record Searches
  7. Searches Through Published Bibliographies and Printed Indexes
  8. Talking to People
  9. Subject Searching for Pre-1968 Books: The Old Card Catalog
  10. Special Collections
  11. Summary
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  March 14, 2022
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