Library of Congress

Online Catalog

Library of Congress > LC Online Catalog > Search/Browse Help > Browse
{ show:{ buttons:{print:true,subscribe:true,share:true,survey:false}, tabs:{share:true,save:true,email:true}, features:{link:true,bookmark:true,download:true} }, subscribe_url: '/share/sites/library-of-congress/online-catalog.php' }

About Browse

Browse provides a single search box for finding words and phrases for titles, authors/creators, subjects, call numbers, and standard numbers in an ordered list. Shortcut URL:

Browse search options fall into the following categories:

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

Browse with Drop-Down Menu Opened

To enter a Browse search:

  1. Select a search type from the drop-down menu under the Browse heading.
  2. Enter one or more search words or phrases in the box that follows. 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 a search type that supports Limits, the Limits option will appear on the search form, enabling you to optionally filter your results. Heading and call number searches cannot be filtered.
  4. Select the number of entries you want to display on your Headings Browse List and Titles List. You can increase the default of 25 entries to 50, 75, or 100.



Browse Tips

  • 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 (where individual headings point to one or more titles) or as a Titles List.
  • In most Browse searches, punctuation (e.g. semicolons, periods, hyphens, slashes, etc.) found at the end of words or phrases is ignored. Retain punctuation found in the middle of words and numbers (e.g., "4-H" or 401(k) plans). Keep hyphens in ISSNs and transcribe periods, parentheses, spaces, and slashes in call numbers. Hyphens in ISBNs can either be retained or removed.
  • For Browse heading contains searches only:
    • 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, ecumenism, etc.)
  • For Browse heading and Titles beginning with searches, Call Number searches, and Standard Number (LCCN-ISBN-ISSN) searches, truncation is automatic.
  • Remove initial articles. If your search query starts with one of the following words commonly used as 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, hinn, hinna, hinnar, 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, 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


Browse Results

Browse results are returned in alphabetical or numerical order (depending on the Browse option), placing you closest to the search word(s) entered.

Results for Standard Number (LCCN-ISBN-ISSN) and for Titles Beginning With searches use Titles List displays. Call number searches generate a hybrid Headings Browse List/Titles List display.

Searching controlled headings (authors/creators, name-titles, subjects, and uniform titles) with either the "beginning with" or "containing" options produces a Headings Browse List. Cross-references indicate relationships among headings. Use the arrows to move forward or backward in list. Selecting a term in the Headings Browse list takes you to a Titles List for that heading.

One of the most commonly used controlled vocabularies at the Library of Congress is the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). In addition to providing cross-references, scope notes identify LC classification numbers associated the heading and clarify how particular headings have been used in the LC Online Catalog. Consulting LCSH will help you refine your strategy for searching the Library's classified collections.


Punctuation, Diacritics, Special Characters, Non-Roman Characters

Most marks of punctuation in your search query are converted to spaces. Some punctuation and diacritic marks are removed: apostrophes, alifs, ayns, middle dots, primes and double primes. A few special characters 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 Online Catalog use Unicode (UTF-8 encoding) for searching and displaying data. In addition to Roman scripts, the Catalog contains records in 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. Best results occur if you have Unicode fonts and use Unicode character encoding with automatic character encoding activated.


Adding Limits

To filter your search, toggle open the full limits on each search screen, 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)

Searches in the LC Online Catalog can return thousands of results. 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. For more information, see Search Limits.