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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

History 200A: History of Travel and Mobility in America

course guide

1. What is the Online Catalog?

The UIUC Library is one of 70+ member libraries comprising the I-Share consortium. I-Share libraries share an online catalog, Illinet Online, and UIUC students, staff, and faculty can borrow directly from the other libraries in the consortium by placing a request through the catalog.

You can also search the UIUC catalog separately. When you use the Library Gateway, this is the first option under “Library Catalogs,” and normally you will want to start by searching UIUC only.

2. Why Use the Online Catalog?

Use the online catalog to do a subject search for books or to find out where a particular book or journal is located in the Library.

Books and journals are organized in the library by subject. Each item is assigned one or more subject headings and a unique call number. Subject headings are standardized terms from the Library of Congress. The call number is based on the Dewey Decimal Classification.

3. Why Bother with Subject Headings When You Can do Keyword Searching?

It’s true that you can find sources on a topic by doing keyword searches. But if you limit yourself to keyword searching, you are likely to miss important material on your topic that uses other terms. If you only need two or three books, you can probably find what you need by doing keyword searches, but if you are doing historical research, you can’t afford to miss critical material on your topic. For a comprehensive subject search, search with subject headings as well as keywords.

A good way to identify subject headings for a topic is to do a keyword search in the online catalog using terms you think describe the topic and try to identify a few relevant books. Look at the full record for those books to see what subject headings were used, then do another search on those headings.

As a rule of thumb, use fairly broad headings, as well as the specific ones that describe your topic, in order to make sure you haven't inadvertently eliminated relevant material that is contained within works of larger scope. Most likely you will find multiple headings to describe your topic, and you should use all of them. You can narrow your search in the online catalog by combining subject headings (as a phrase) with keywords, using the “Advanced Search” option.

4.Some Example Subject Headings

Roads--United States
Roads--United States--Maps
Roads--United States--History
Roads--Social aspects--United States
Toll roads--United States
United States--Territorial expansion
Transportation--United States--History
United States--Description and travel
Trails--United States--Guidebooks
Frontier and pioneer life
Tramps--United States
United States--Guidebooks
Federal Writers' Project
Automobile travel
Roadside architecture
Motels--United States--History
Signs and signboards--United States
Highway planning--United States
United States Highway 66
United States Highway 40
Express highways
Railroads--United States
Railroad travel
Inland water transportation
Travelers--United States
Tourism--United States--History
Heritage tourism
Women travelers--United States
Travelers' writings, American
Travel in literature
Indians of North America--Relocation
Trail of Tears, 1838
United States--Emigration and immigration--History
Migration, Internal--United States--History
Fugitive slaves--United States--History
Underground Railroad
African Americans--Migrations

5. Searching the Online Catalog

To search the online catalog, go to the Library Gateway and click on Library Catalog. The online catalog offers both “Quick Search” and “Advanced Search” options. Use “Advanced Search” to identify subject headings on your topic, to combine subject headings (or elements from subject headings) in a Boolean search, or to combine keywords from any part of the record with subject headings to narrow your search.

Use “Quick Search” to browse a subject heading, to search a title when you know exactly how it begins, to locate a work or works by a particular author, or to search by call number for a specific book.