Friday, December 1, 2006

Searching for Information

Dewey Decimal System

Most of the libraries use the Dewey system. Dewey is a hierarchical classification system that divides humanity's knowledge, ideas, and artistic creations into ten major categories spanning a range from 000 to 999.

The hierarchical nature of the Dewey system makes browsing books possible.

A book's call number includes more than a Dewey number, so write down the complete call number of the books you want to find.

Online Catalog

The Duke Online Catalog is your gateway to finding books (as well as journals, electronic resources, videos, and more).

You can search the catalog in six ways: Author, Title, Subject Heading, Keyword, Call Number, or ISBN and other numbers.

The yellow boxes on the catalog's various search screens provide basic information and sample searches.

Online Catalog Records

After performing a search that finds some materials, you will see a short record containing basic information.

To see the full record, select the link. The full record provides more information and more search choices.

For example, you can select an author's name to see all the books Duke has by that author. You call also select a subject heading to see all the materials Duke has on that subject.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

When you search the online catalog by subject, you must use a Library of Congress Subject Heading (LCSH) or a Medical Subject Heading (MeSH). The library assigns subject headings to all items listed in the online catalog. This makes it easy to find books on the same topics or related topics.

Subject headings are listed in a five-volume manual called simply Library of Congress Subject Headings ("the big red books"). Sometimes you can guess the appropriate subject headings, but it's wise to check the manual to be sure. Reference librarians can help you, too.

Library of Congress Subject Headings
A Subject Search Shortcut

Using Other Libraries

Links are available on the Catalogs page.

Found something that Duke doesn't have? Fill out an interlibrary loan request form. Perkins Library's Interlibrary Loan department will borrow materials for you from other libraries.
Another possibility is using the other university libraries in the Triangle area: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University (Raleigh), and North Carolina Central University (Durham). You can use your Duke Card to check out books at these three universities yourself. The Catalogs page provides easy access to their online catalogs.
Cramer, Steven. "Part 5: Searching for Information." Guide to Library Research. 06 March 2001. Duke Unisversity. 1 December 2006