There are two ways to search the UIUC Library catalog. Both offer the same content but the method of searching and presentation of results varies.
Getting the actual book: When you locate your item you have two choices.
You can request the item and pick it up at any of the departmental libraries. Or, you can retrieve the book yourself from either the main stacks or the departmental library where the book is located. If you choose this option, make sure you jot down the location and call number of the item.
Access will depend on the publisher. In some case you will be able to download full books via PDF. In others you might be able only to view the book online. In all cases the Library follow the publisher's requirements.
Once you have verified that the book you are looking for is either not located in the UIUC catalog or all copies are checked out, you may order it through VU Find Catalog. Items typically arrive within 5-10 days and you will receive an email when the item is available for pick up.
If the item is not available in the Illinois catalog and it is not available through I-Share, then your next stop will be Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery. First, keep your full citation handy -- you'll need it. Second, login to the ILLiad server using your NetID and password. From the ILLiad main menu, select "Request a Book." Be sure to fill out as much of the form as possible, including the source of your citation. This will ensure that ILL can place your request in a timely manner. You'll be notified by email when your item is ready to be picked up.
WorldCat -You can search WorldCat to find books on your topic, which might not be in the UIUC nor the I-share catalog. Once you find a title of interest, you can order it through Interlibrary Loan
A subject heading is a special type of category that groups together materials in the Library that share a topic, author, discipline, or particular format. While simple keyword searches are a good start for finding materials, a subject heading search is an advanced type of search that often produces much more precise and targeted results that are often exactly what you need.
The subject headings used in the Library catalog are standardized Library of Congress headings, which may be subdivided by geographic area, chronological period, genre, or sub-topic. The language of subject headings is not particularly intuitive or natural, so you shouldn’t hesitate to ask a librarian for help in finding the correct subject headings.
A good way to find catalog subject headings for your topic is to do a keyword search in the online catalog. For example, let's say you do a Subject search to look for a book about Emily Dickinson, and you see the following record in your results:
Look in the "Topics" field: these are the subject headings for this book, such as "Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886 - Knowledge - Botany." The subject headings in the online catalog are hyperlinked, so simply click on one of the headings to search for more materials under that heading.
It's best to search in both fairly broad headings as well as specific ones, in order to make sure you don't miss any relevant material. You'll likely find multiple headings that are relevant to your topic, and you will find a variety of resources if you look at all of them.
Here are the relevant Library of Congress call number ranges for American literature:
|PN||Literature, Literary History and Collections|
|PN597-605||Special relations, movements, and currents of literature|
|PS126-138||Biography, memoirs, letters, etc.|
|PS163-173||Treatment of special subjects, classes|
|PS185-231||By period (17th-21st centuries)|
|PS241-286||Special regions, states, etc.|
|PS271-285||West and Central|
|PS301-326||Critical and historical works: Poetry|
|PS330-353||Critical and historical works: Drama|
|PS360-380||Critical and historical works: Prose|
|PS370-380||Critical and historical works: Prose fiction|
|PS430-439||Wit and humor; Satire|
|PS490||Juvenile literature (General)|
|PS501-689||Collections of American literature|
|PS700-893||Colonial period (17th and 18th centuries)|