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History 3296: Utopia/Dystopia: The Idea of America In Europe Since the Nineteenth Century

This is a library guide to support the research component of the Intermediate Writing Seminar taught by Temple Historian, Dr. Petra Goedde.

Find Books: Diamond, The Library Catalog

Search Diamond to find books available through Temple University Libraries. Begin by taking just a few minutes to understand Library of Congress Subject Headings, or LCSH for short. Subject headings are "tags" applied by cataloging librarians to records in library catalogs. LCSH are similar to but more precise and systematically applied than the tags students will already be familiar with from using social networking sites.

LCSH offer researchers accurate descriptions of books and other library resources. Critically, subject headings provide the researcher with information about what a book is about (its subject or topic). They also tell the researcher that a book is a certain type of work such as a primary source, biography, bibliography, etc. Remember that the term Sources is used as a subheading in LCSH to identify primary-source material. Primary-source subheadings include Personal Narratives, CorrespondenceDiaries, and Oratory, among others.

Example: A researcher needs to find books, both primary and secondary, on European perceptions or views of the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries . The most relevant subject headings are:

  1. United States -- Foreign Opinion -- European
  2. United States -- Foreign Public Opinion, European
  3. United States -- Foreign Opinion -- British
  4. United States -- Foreign Public Opinion, British
  5. United States -- Foreign Opinion -- French
  6. United States -- Foreign Public Opinion, French
  7. United States -- Foreign Opinion -- German
  8. United States -- Foreign Public Opinion, German
  9. United States -- Foreign Opinion -- Italian
  10. United States -- Foreign Public Opinion, Italian [No records in Diamond]
  11. United States -- Foreign Opinion -- Russian
  12. United States -- Foreign Public Opinion, Russian

Long and complicated "tags," granted, and not particularly intuitive. Even more daunting, there are plenty of additional relevant LCSH, e.g. United States -- Description and Travel; West (U.S.) -- Description and Travel; Travel Writing -- United States; and even Travelers' Writings, European. What to do in the future if you're working on your own and the librarian has not already identified relevant LCSH?

Fortunately, the researcher does not need to in-depth knowledge of LCSH prior to searching Diamond. Rather she or he need only 1) generate a list of search terms (called keywords by librarians) that will elicit relevant results in Diamond; 2) run a search and then click on one book title from the results list that appears to be relevant; and 3) examine the sugect headings assigned by the librarian to that particular book. Here are just a few examples of keyword searches in Diamond that return relevant results:

Suggested Book Titles