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Diversity Research

Finding Books

This page will help you use subject headings to find books in our libraries related to diversity research. Knowing how to use Library of Congress (LC) subject headings can help you create a much more relevant and effective search.

Diversity Research through Subject Headings

The UO Libraries, like most academic libraries, organizes its materials using Library of Congress (LC) subject heading. When using LibrarySearch, you can select "Subject" to perform a search using these subject headings. It helps to know what subject headings the Library of Congress uses for your topic. Because researching a topic from a diversity perspective can be very interdisciplinary in nature, it is likely that several subject headings will be needed to identify even the most basic resources. For example, a small sampling of headings used to find materials on ethnic identity alone might look like this:

  • Acculturation
  • Ethnicity
  • Immigration
  • Minorities
  • Multiculturalism
  • Race Awareness

Identifying Subject Headings

LC Subject headings can be identified using the Library of Congress Subject Heading volumes, located at Z 695 .L695 in most of the UO Libraries' reference collections. These books will help identify whether a subject heading is useable, along with suggested lists of broader, narrower and related headings that may be used for searching.

Another way to identify LC subject headings is to locate material you know deals with your topic. Search the Library Catalog by author or title and then browse the record display for the located item to see what LC subject heading(s) have been assigned to that item. Click on the heading(s) to run a subject search in the Library Catalog.

If you don't already know of an item that's representative of the topic you're researching, you can often find something relevant simply by entering a descriptive word(s) for your topic as a keyword search in the Library Catalog. This method may also yield a number of irrelevant hits, so once you find a title from among your keyword search results that looks good, browse the record display for the item to see what LC subject heading(s) have been assigned to that item. Click on the heading(s) to run a subject search in the Library Catalog.

Keyword searching may make it initially easier to take your descriptive terms and find something relevant in the Library Catalog. This is because your terms will be searched in many parts of a catalog record. For instance, your search may yield an item that uses your term in the title, even though the term is not recognized as an LC subject heading.

The advantage of subject heading searching is that, once you determine what terms are recognized as LC subject headings, you'll get the benefit of all the effort librarians across the country have spent actually examining library items and deciding what heading(s) they should be classified under, based not on the items' titles but on their actual content.

Once you've run a subject heading search, you will most often retrieve a list of subject headings. In order to browse these results more efficiently and choose the best subject headings to use in locating library material, it's useful to know a few things about subheadings.

On the other hand, keyword searching can be very useful for diversity-based research, for several reasons:

  • Terminology in these fields changes often, and subject headings don't always keep up.
  • Subject headings aren't usually retroactively adjusted; if a heading changes to fit common usage, most libraries won't go back to earlier items and change the headings on them to match the new terms.
  • Subject headings sometimes aren't specific enough to support diversity-based research.

Remember that in general, keyword searches retrieve more hits than subject headings searches. They usually include more irrelevant hits, but if they also retrieve enough good hits, they may be the most useful search for your topic.

The Library of Congress subject scheme uses a number of standard subheadings to further identify subjects. Some of the most common subheadings are those used to describe a geographic area, e.g. United States; its treatment, e.g. History, or Social Conditions; a time period, e.g. 1900-1911, or 20th Century; or a type of item, e.g. Biography, or Encyclopedia.

Because a subject heading search may involve one or more subheadings, it's important to realize that certain types of subheadings will always precede other types of subheadings, when both are present. Generally, geographic subheadings come before treatment, treatment before time period, and time period before item type, e.g. Jewish Women -- United States -- History -- 19th Century -- Fiction

The results for a Library Catalog search for "Japanese Americans" might include the following subheadings, in the following order:

  • Japanese Americans
  • Japanese Americans -- Attitudes -- 1939-1945
  • Japanese Americans -- Bibliography
  • Japanese Americans -- Biography
  • Japanese Americans -- California -- Biography
  • Japanese Americans -- California -- 1939-1945 -- Biography
  • Japanese Americans -- California -- Encyclopedias
  • Japanese Americans -- Directories
  • Japanese Americans -- Encyclopedias
  • Japanese Americans -- History
  • Japanese Americans -- History -- Periodicals
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About UO LibrarySearch

LibrarySearch offers a streamlined interface for finding books and other media that combines the collections of UO Libraries and Summit libraries.

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