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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Researching Palestine

Welcome to the Guide to Researching Palestine at UMass Amherst Libraries.

This research guide was created by a group of library workers across various departments at the UMass Amherst Libraries in the context of the 2023-2024 crisis in Palestine. Our goal is to expand the scope of understanding and to provide resources that will enable students, readers and community members to educate themselves on Palestine’s ongoing struggle and history. We hope that this will also help the UMass Amherst community support student, staff and faculty activists who have taken on the task of providing accurate information and advocacy. 

The guide includes scholarly resources, videos, fiction and poetry, as well as links to organizations offering international solidarity. The materials here are available either through open access, via the Five College Discovery catalog, or from other libraries via WorldCat. 

Scroll down this page for guidance on researching and evaluating Information, including researcher safety and digital privacy. Use the tabs (on the left in desktop version and above in mobile version) to navigate to: Current Events, GazaContextualizing GenocideHistory of Palestine, Palestine and Its Intersections (including Queer & TransRacism, Islamophobia & AntisemitismDisabilityWomen's IssuesLabor & UnionsEnvironmentalism & Climate Change), International Solidarity (including OrganizationsBoycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and South Africa's case at the International Court of Justice on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip), Palestinian Culture (including Arts & PerformanceFiction, Poetry & Memoirs including audiobooks; Food & Cuisine), Trauma, and to learn more.

Researching and Evaluating Information

Additional Resources

      Where can I find books and e-books?

By default, results will include many different resource formats. To limit your results, find the 'Format' header on the results page and click 'Show More'. This will allow you to select 'Books' and 'eBooks'.


How do I access print books?

If the location is UM Bois Library, you can use the call number to find the book on the shelves. For more information on how to use call numbers to find books or browse, select the 'Call Numbers' tab at the top of this box.

You can also click 'Request Item' to have the book placed on the hold shelf on the lower level of the Du Bois Library.

If the location is one of the other Five College libraries (AC = Amherst College, MH = Mount Holyoke, etc.), click 'Request Item' to have the book sent to the Du Bois Library for you to pick up.


How do I access e-books?

To access an e-book, click on the full text option that appears with the result.

*Note: E-books from the other Five College libraries (AC, MH, HC, SC) are not available to UMass affiliates remotely. You can go to that college's campus and access most e-books using a library computer

What if I can't find a print book in the Five College Catalog?

How do I access a book that isn't in the Five College libraries?

How do I use a call number to find a book?

What are subject headings?

Subject headings work similarly to hashtags on social media. They are used to group resources on a particular topic together so that they can be found more easily.

Subject headings are standardized so that even when authors use different terms, you can easily find all books on that topic.

For example, "interment," "inhumation," and "burial" all describe approximately the same social practice. The subject heading "burial" would appear on the record of books where the author uses any of these terms in order to help you find them. Instead of having to do searches for "interment," "inhumation," and "burial," you can do one subject search for "burial".

How do I find subject headings to use in a search?

To browse subject headings, check out the Library of Congress Authorities page.

It's useful to keep in mind the context surrounding the creation subject headings, especially those that represent groups of people. Power and position impacts which terms library workers choose to be subject headings. For example, the Turkish ethnic group that refers to themselves as the Sakha are referred to with the subject heading "Yakut (Turkic people)".

How do I search using subject headings?

In Discovery Search, begin your search with 'DE' and place subject headings in quotation marks. This will tell the search engine that you are only interested in resources which have been given the same subject headings that you're searching for.

If you link multiple subject headings together, separate them with two dashes (--).

A screenshot of a subject search performed in Discovery Search using 'DE' to begin the search string.

How can I use the subjects headings from relevant books to find more?

When you find a book that's relevant to your research, take a look at the subject headings on its record.

Take this book found in Discovery Search for example:

Screenshot of catalog record for Unwrapping Ancient Egypt

Clicking on one of the subject headings will show you all other books in the Five College libraries that are also on that same topic.

You can also edit subject headings and search for them in Discovery Search. You could search for "Burial, China" instead to learn more about the practice in that part of the world.


What if I can't find many books using a subject heading?

There are many books that the Five College libraries don't have. You can use WorldCat to find books by subject heading. For best results, separate subject terms with two dashes and use parentheses.

A screenshot of a subject search using 'DE' on the WorldCat homepage.