Identifying Subject Terms for Use

Each of those terms located in the "You Found Titles in Categories" and "Try these too..." menus are hyperlinked meaning you can click directly on them and bring up a new results list. The links in "You Found Titles in Categories" menu will bring up those items within the initial 526 that fit that criteria while the links in the "Try these too..." menu will produce a wholly new list of titles that may or may not contain overlap. Each of these terms is a broad subject term. Subject terms are what we in the library use to organize information. The more subject terms you use, the more specific your search results will be. The subject is the general or specific topic that a certain resource, be it a book, movie or article, falls under. For instance, if you were interested in watching a movie from our collection, a keyword search for "movie" will bring up books about movies more than watchable movies, but a subject search for "feature films" will bring back a list of just movies that can be checked out from our collection.

So how do we know that the term "feature films" is the one we should use? Well, we can find all that information by looking for clues within the database. The first place is the aforementioned menus, however, you may also access subject terms by looking within the records for any particular time. For instance, if in your initial keyword search for culture, you found a book that would be perfect for your topic. This book is a great launching point to discover all those other books that are on the same topic by using the subject terms.

Once you have found a single title, the record will give you all the information you need on where to find the resource in our physical collection (shelf location) or in our electronic collection (URL) as well as other books on the same topic.

So let's try to whittle down our results using the tools within the database. The category "Human Geography" looks promising in the "You Found Titles in Categories" menu, so we can click directly on that link. The following search results are a result of that "Human Geography" topic within the context of the keyword search for "culture." Confusing, a note at the top of the page will keep you informed of where you are within the search results.

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Now we have 2 titles out of our initial 526. While this may appear to be too few, we can identify at least one of these titles as appropriate for our topic. Environments and people may contain information that can inform our research and, as such, we can explore the record to find out more information about this book: where it is located, whether it is checked out, what topics the books covers and maybe even a summary or contents note. This will give you some idea of what the contents of the book are or what it is about without having to go physically search for it. Only if you feel it is appropriate do you need to access the actual book.

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If you click on the tab at the top of the record that says "catalog record" you can access the subject terms that can lead you directly to more information on your topic.

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Each method you choose to use will bring up different results, so it will be necessary to perform multiple searches. For instance, clicking on "Culture." will bring back those titles that have "Culture." as an exact subject term. So if a title has "Culture diffusion" instead of just "Culture.", it will be excluded from the results.


But a subject search for the same exact term will bring back more results.

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The reason for this is a keyword versus exact search. If you click on "Advanced Search" under the initial search you will get more search options. In any field you can put exact words in to find just those words, or use keywords to find phrases that contain those words, even in a subject search.

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In the "match on" drop down menu, you can match your terms exactly or by keywords or even by a specific order of words. You can also string together search terms. Entering a different search term in any of those search boxes will include it in the search. However, if you put too many terms there is a good chance you will not bring back any results.