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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Commonwealth College: Dean's Book Course

Patricia Gorman

Better book searching



Every non-fiction library book has subject headings assigned to classify it. Sometimes using key words will find you books on your subject, but except for very specific searches with distinctive words, using subject headings (known as LCSH's, or Library of Congress subject headings) will usually retrieve more books than just a keyword search.

Use key words to get LCSH's for better results. See the PowerPoint on this search strategy.

Also, remember to take your searches, if you like, from the local to the national/international level, by using Worldcat. If we have four or five books on subject x, and you want or need more information, search Worldcat using the same LCSH's you used for our catalog, and if you find books we don't own, you can order them by using Interlibrary loan (ILL). PowerPoint presentations on using Worldcat and ILL are on the home page of this guide.

Finding books

  • Five Colleges Library Catalog
    Catalog of Five Colleges books, e-journals, films, scores, recordings, etc.
  • WorldCat
    The combined catalogs of most U.S. libraries. Material not owned by UMass Amherst can usually be borrowed through Interlibrary Loan.
  • Free, public WorldCat
    Differs from UMass WorldCat subscription in that it can be accessed freely from any location. However, you cannot request books through Interlibrary Loan from this site.
A chart showing which call numbers are located on which floors, is here.

Terminology changes

Keep in mind that Native Americans is a term used in recent decades. For older articles, terms like aborigenes or Indians may be suggested. In Canada, Native Americans are termed "First Nations."