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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS SUBJECT HEADINGS
Library of Congress Subject Headings

When you search the online catalog by subject, you must use a Library of Congress Subject Heading (LCSH). The library assigns subject headings to all items listed in the online catalog. This makes it easy to find books on the same or similar 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. This multi-volume set is located on the first floor in the Reference Area. Reference librarians can help you, too.

 

Using Library of Congress Subject Headings

Sample entry
Sample Library of Congress Subject Headings entry
Example of using the subdivisions of the main term:

mental illness--treatment--evaluation
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Note: Punctuation is optional.
The online catalog ignores punctuation. For example, the following searches are equivalent:

mental illness--treatment--evaluation
mental illness. treatment. evaluation
mental illness treatment evaluation

--Courtesy of Duke Libraries, Duke University

Abbreviations

May Subd Geog: may subdivide geographically.
Example:
mental illness--australia
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BT: broader topic.
More general headings. If there are too few books under the main heading, try these broader headings.
Example:
diseases
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NT: narrower topic.
More specific topics. If there are too many books under the main heading, consider using these narrower headings.
Example:
insanity
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RT: related topic.
Associated headings that fall outside of the main term's hierarchy.
Example:
mental health
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SA: see also.
Headings that cover similar subjects.

UF: used for.
These are unauthorized headings. In other words, don't use these headings.
Example:
madness
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USE: refers to the appropriate heading.
Example:
mental illness--surgery
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Send comments or questions to Olga Verbeek, Library Webmaster, at verbeeko@salve.edu.
Revised: November, 2001