Locate and Retrieve Relevant Information

Searching by Subject


Another way to search for a topic is by Subject. For more on the advantages and disadvantages of searching by keyword vs. subject, see

In many electronic databases, when you conduct a subject search, the computer searches a special list of terms called subject headings. Subject headings are terms which describe what an item is "about". A library item is usually assigned one or more subject headings.

Most academic libraries use the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). Consult LCSH to ensure the words you use for a subject search are valid subject headings.

For example, if you did a subject search using an appropriate SUBJECT HEADING such as "space colonies" you would find the following:

You searched for the SUBJECT: space colonies
Record 9 of 22
Call Number TL795.7 .H37 1996
Author Harris, Philip Robert, 1926-
Title Living and working in space : human behavior, culture, and organization / Philip Robert Harris.
Edition 2nd ed.
Publisher Chichester, [Eng.]; New York : John Wiley published in association with Praxis Publishing, Chichester, 1996.
Description xxviii, 414p. :ill., map ; 24cm.
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (p. [369]-409) and index.
SUBJECT Space Colonies
Space Industrialization

However, if you do a subject search using words/terms that are not on the special list of subject terms used by the library, you may receive the following message:

You searched for the SUBJECT: space exploration
Record 1 of 1

Space Exploration is not used in this library's catalog.

Outer Space Exploration is used instead.

SEARCH for Outer Space Exploration.

You can also use a subject search to find items about people. Be sure to type in last name first, for example:

You searched for the SUBJECT: armstrong, neil
Record 1 of 1

Call Number TL540.W7T78 1991
Author Marshall Cavendish Corporation
Title Twentieth-century pioneers : the Wright brothers, Scott of the Antarctic, Neil Armstrong.
Edition 1st ed.
Publisher New York : M. Cavendish Corp., 1991.
Description 64 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.
SUBJECT Wright, Orville, 1871-1948.
Wright, Wilbur, 1867-1912.
Scott, Robert Falcon, 1868-1912.
Armstrong, Neil, 1930-