Library of Congress Online Catalog: Help Pages

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  Basic Search Overview
  Keyword Searches:
  - Keyword
  - Title Keyword
  - Author/Creator
  - Subject Keyword
  - Name/Title
  - Series/Uniform Title
  Other Searches:
  - Expert Search
  - Title Begins With
  - Author/Creator Browse
  - Subject Browse
  - Call No. Browse (LC)
  - Call No. Browse (Other)
  - Number Search
  - Author Sorted by Title
  Guided Search

  Limiting Searches
  Search History
  Boolean Searching

  for Guided Searches
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Title Keyword

Use Title Keyword searches when you know several words from the title, subtitle or statement of responsibility for an item, but are not sure in what order they appear. Results will be returned in relevance-ranked order.

Title Keyword
finds individual words or exact phrases located
in any title areas of the record (including
contents notes) across subfields.

Search limits are available.
Boolean AND operator is automatic.

Basic Search Examples:

Search string . . . Retrieves catalog records containing . . .
dummies photoshop the word "dummies" and the word "photoshop" anywhere in any title (includes contents notes)
"camera raw " the exact phrase "camera raw" in any title (including contents notes)
fraser photoshop the word "fraser" and the word "photoshop" in any title (including contents notes) -- in this case "fraser" is the last name of an author who writes Photoshop books

Search Tips:

  • Enter words in any order.
  • All words will be searched including "and", "or", "not", "the", "a", "la", "das", etc.
  • Enclose words in quotation marks (" ") to retrieve them as exact phrases (e.g., "camera raw ")
  • Use ? at the end of a search word for truncation (e.g., ecumen? will retrieve ecumenical, ecumenism, etc.).
  • Search results are ranked using a relevancy algorithm. To improve the relevancy of the results it is usually better to include more words or phrases in the search, in addition to using the suggested punctuation tools.

About Relevancy Ranking:

Keyword search results are displayed as a Keyword Titles List in ranked order using a special relevancy algorithm. Although relatively new to library online catalogs, relevancy ranking is used by many Web search engines (e.g., AltaVista, Lycos, etc.) However, each formula for determining relevance is a little different. Here is some information on the ranking factors used in the Library of Congress Online Catalog:

  • Uniqueness of search terms within the database
  • Proximity of search terms to each other within the catalog record
  • Number of times a search word is present in catalog record fields (e.g., subject heading field, author field, title field) in which the terms occur.
  • Use of * and + operators: the asterisk raises the relevance of a term; the plus sign requires the term to be present in the results.

Alternative Search Options:

If you know the exact title, starting with the left-most word, you may find the Title Begins With search to be more effective.

Other title searches include:

  • Name/Title Keyword - retrieves established headings for author title combinations (e.g., composers and musical works)
  • Series/Uniform Title Keyword - searches only within series and uniform title headings
  • Author/Creator Sorted by Title Browse - retrieves established headings for author title combinations (e.g., composers and musical works) placing you in a forward/backward browsable list. However, you must enter the heading in exact order (full author and dates followed by the title).

Use the browser's [Back] button to resume searching.

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June 25, 2008