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Doing Research at the Library of Congress

III. Searching the Catalog with Classification Numbers

The Basic Search screen of the Library's catalog has several search options listed under "Search Type" (see Figure 3, Subject Browse in the Library of Congress Online Catalog). Each of these search options will provide you with a browse menu starting from the term you enter. Thus, an Author "browse" under the single surname Hemingway will show you the Library's holdings not only under "Hemingway, Ernest," but also under "Hemingway, Anne," "Hemingway, Carol," "Hemingway, John," and so on. A Title "browse" under Left field will turn up the entries Left field, Left field baseball book, Left field bear, and Left field eruption.

Particularly useful for subject inquiries are browse searches by call numbers. These will enable you to identify works shelved near your startingpoint classification number. Of course, searching brief catalog records in an online catalog is not the same thing as searching the actual full texts of the books themselves, arranged in subject groups in the bookstacks; but since the Library of Congress has closed stacks, for security reasons, the computer search capability at least indicates the presence of nearby titles, even if it does not reveal their full contents online. Searching by class numbers derived from relevant books already identified can often turn up subject-related books that are not brought to your attention by Library of Congress subject headings.

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  December 1, 2016
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