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Search/Browse Help - Browse: LC Catalog (Library of Congress)

Library buildings are closed to the public until further notice. The LC Catalog is available, however, Automated Call Slip service is only available to some patrons. More.

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Search/Browse Help - Browse

About Browse

Browse provides a single search box for finding words and phrases in titles, authors/creators, subjects, call numbers, and standard numbers and arranging the results in an ordered alphabetic or numeric list.

The Browse shortcut URL is: [catalog.loc.gov]

Browse Options

Browse offers four types of searches:

  • Searches against controlled lists of authors/creators, subjects, names/titles, and series/uniform titles used by the Library of Congress - along with cross-references. These controlled terms are referred to as "authorized headings." The LC Catalog supports two types of headings searches: you can either start with the left-most word of the heading (the beginning with option) or look for any word in the heading (the containing option).
  • Searches for LC call numbers or shelving numbers, starting with the left-most part of the number.
  • Searches for titles, starting with the left-most word of the title (removing initial articles).
  • Searches for LCCN (LC Control Numbers), ISSN, and ISBN - known as "standard numbers" - starting at the beginning of the number.

To enter a Browse search:

  1. Select a Browse search type from the drop-down menu options.
  2. Enter one or more search words or phrases in the Browse search box. Depending on the Browse option you select, your search terms may need to be entered in exact order, beginning with the left-most word.
  3. If you select Titles Beginning With, LCCN, or Standard Number (LCCN-ISBN-ISSN) from the Browse options, Add Limits appears on the search form, enabling you to optionally limit your results.
  4. Toggle open context-sensitive search tips or click Search/Browse Help from either the Menu at the top left of your screen or the Help link at the bottom of your screen
  5. .

Browse Results

Searching controlled headings for authors/creators, subjects, names/titles, and series/uniform titles - either using the beginning with or containing option - produces a Headings Browse List, where individual headings point to one or more titles. Search results are returned in alphabetical or numerical order, depending on the Browse option you select. You are placed closest in the Browse List to the search word(s) you entered; you can then page forward or backward through the list using navigational arrows. Searching aids such as cross-references and scope notes define relationships among headings. Selecting a Browse List heading takes you to the Titles List for that term.

Titles Beginning With, LCCN, and Standard Number (LCCN-ISBN-ISSN) searches result in Titles List displays, which are generally arranged by author, title, and date. Call number searches generate a hybrid Headings Browse List/Titles List display.

Punctuation, Diacritics, Special Characters, Non-Roman Characters

Most marks of punctuation in your search query are converted to spaces. Most diacritics and some punctuation marks are removed (including apostrophes, alifs, ayns, middle dots, primes and double primes). A few special characters, however, are retained in searches: ampersands (&), plus signs (+), at signs (@), number signs (#), and musical flat (♭) and natural (♮) signs (musical sharps are converted to spaces). Special characters are generally converted to their nearest alphabetic equivalent (for example: an æ diagraph to ae or a þ thorn to th).

Records in the LC Catalog use Unicode opens in a new window (UTF-8 encoding) for searching and displaying data. In addition to Roman scripts, Catalog records may also contain the following languages/scripts: Chinese, Japanese, Korean; Cyrillic-based scripts; Greek; Hebrew, Yiddish; and Perso-Arabic script (e.g., Arabic, Persian, Pushto, Sindhi, Urdu). For more information, see Searching/Displaying Non-Roman Characters.

In general, your preferred web browser settings will not need to be changed to correctly view records that contain diacritics, special characters, or non-Roman characters. If you have problems, however, you may need to reconfigure your browser opens in a new window. Best results occur if you have Unicode fonts and use Unicode character encoding with automatic character encoding activated.

Adding Limits

Limits are available for three Browse search types: Titles Beginning With, LCCN, and Standard Number (LCCN-ISBN-ISSN). To filter these searches, toggle open Add Limits and select:

  • Year Published/Created of the material
  • Language of the material
  • Type of material (e.g., book, periodical, music score)
  • Location of the collection within the Library of Congress
  • Place of Publication (e.g., country, state, province)

Note that limits are not available for Headings Browse Lists of authors/creators, subject, names/titles, and series/uniform titles headings, as well as for call numbers, since Browse allows continuous paging from the first to last heading or cross-reference in the Catalog.

Searches in the LC Catalog can return thousands of results. Search Limits can be useful to refine your results, but should be used with caution. Many older catalog records do not contain the data that is used to set limits, and so these records will not appear in search results. Similarly, some formats of material (such as images) may not contain data such as language information; limiting by language will exclude these records from your results. In addition, when multiple values (e.g., several languages) are recorded in a single field of a catalog record, limits can only retrieve the first language. If relevant material is not retrieved with limits set, clear the limits and modify the search.

Browse Tips

  • The Library's Thesauri & Controlled Vocabularies website describes the vocabularies and thesauri used in LC Catalog records. One of the Library's most common controlled vocabularies is the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). In addition to providing cross-references, scope notes identify LC classification numbers associated subject headings and clarify how particular headings have been used in the LC Catalog. Consulting LCSH will help you refine your strategy for searching the Library's classified collections.
  • In most Browse searches, punctuation (e.g. semicolons, periods, hyphens, slashes, etc.) found at the end of words or phrases is ignored. Your search queries, however, should:
    • Retain punctuation found in the middle of words and numbers (e.g., "4-H" or 401(k) plans)
    • Retain spaces (where present) between an LCCN prefix and year/serial portion of the control number in LCCN and Standard Number (LCCN-ISBN-ISSN) searches.
    • Keep hyphens in ISSNs in Standard Number (LCCN-ISBN-ISSN) searches. Hyphens in ISBNs can be retained or removed.
    • Transcribe periods, parentheses, spaces, and slashes in call number searches.
  • Enter words in the order described in each browse option. Results will match all words entered and either be returned as a Headings Browse List or as a Titles List.
  • For searches using the beginning with option, as well as searches for Call Numbers, LCCN, Standard Number (LCCN-ISBN-ISSN), and Titles Beginning With, truncation is automatic.
  • For searches using the contains option, truncation is not automatic. Instead:
    • Use quotation marks (" ") to identify words you want searched as a phrase (e.g., "solar energy")
    • Use a percent sign (%) as a single character wildcard, either inside or at the end of a search term (e.g., col%r retrieves color, coler, and colur, but not colour).
    • Use a question mark (?) as a multiple character wildcard, either inside or at the end of a search term (e.g., ecumen? retrieves ecumenical and ecumenism).
  • Remove initial articles. If your search query starts with one of the following common initial articles, you will be presented with a dialog box asking if you want to remove the word from your search:
    • a
    • a'
    • al
    • al-
    • am
    • an
    • an t-
    • ane
    • ang
    • ang mga
    • as
    • az
    • bat
    • bir
    • d'
    • da
    • das
    • de
    • dei
    • dem
    • den
    • der
    • des
    • det
    • di
    • die
    • dos
    • e
    • 'e
    • een
    • eene
    • egy
    • ei
    • ein
    • eine
    • einem
    • einen
    • einer
    • eines
    • eit
    • el
    • el-
    • els
    • en
    • enne
    • et
    • ett
    • eyn
    • eyne
    • gl'
    • gli
    • ha-
    • hai
    • he
    • he-
    • heis
    • hen
    • hena
    • henas
    • het
    • hin
    • hina
    • hinar
    • hinir
    • hinna
    • hinni
    • hins
    • hinu
    • hinum
    • ho
    • hoi
    • i
    • ih'
    • il
    • il-
    • in
    • it
    • ka
    • ke
    • l'
    • l-
    • la
    • las
    • le
    • les
    • lh
    • lhi
    • li
    • lis
    • lo
    • los
    • lou
    • lu
    • mga
    • mia
    • 'n
    • na
    • ny
    • 'o
    • o
    • os
    • 'r
    • 's
    • 't
    • ta
    • tais
    • tas
    • the
    • to
    • tois
    • ton
    • tou
    • um
    • uma
    • un
    • un'
    • una
    • une
    • unei
    • unha
    • uno
    • uns
    • unui
    • us
    • y
    • ye
    • yr
  • Use the Records Per Page drop-down menu to adjust the number of Browse List entries on each page; the default of 25 items per page can be increased to 50, 75, or 100 entries.