Thursday, December 29, 2016

Adventures in the Library Catalog: Searching by Subject

You can easily lose yourself in the library catalog. Have you ever tried a random search in the catalog, starting with a book you saw or liked? All you have to do is click into the record of that title and find its subject headings (underneath any description, content listing, and summary the record might provide). One of our favorites,  The Atlas of Cursed Places: A Travel Guide to Dangerous and Frightful Destinations by Olivier Le Carrer, Sibylle Le Carrer links to these subjects:

Curiosities and wonders.

Click on any of these subject headings, and you'll find more books about each subject. Sometimes those books will have even more, different subject headings. For instance, one of the titles that comes up in a subject search of "Curiosities and wonders" is the eBook of Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, which also links to  the subject "Voyages and travels." One more click, and you can find yourself entertained for hours with books you might not have found otherwise.

Here are some subject headings that have provided us with some interesting stepping off points for searches, and examples of the eclectic cornucopia of books you might find within:

File under Curiosities and Wonders

The Wonder Trail: True Stories From Los Angeles to the End of the World by Steve Hely

F Is For France: A Curious Cabinet of French Wonders by Piu Eatwell 

Spurious Correlations by Tyler Vigen 

A People's History of the Peculiar: A Freak Show of Facts, Oddities & Astounding Truths From Across the Planet Earth by Nick Belardes [eBook]

Knowledge Is Beautiful by David McCandless 

Mrs. Wakeman vs. the Antichrist and Other Strange-But-True Tales From American History by Robert Damon Schneck 

Stalking the Herd: Unraveling the Cattle Mutilation Mystery by Christopher O'Brien   

National Geographic Guide to the World's Supernatural Places: More Than 250 Spine-Chilling Destinations Around the Globe by Sarah Bartlett  

Hidden Treasures: What Museums Can't or Won't Show You by Harriet Baskas

Because I Said So!: The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down To Its Kids by Ken Jennings 

File under Monsters

Medieval Monsters by Damien Kempf & Maria L. Gilbert

The Bigfoot Book: The Encyclopedia of Sasquatch, Yeti, and Cryptid Primates by Nick Redfern

File under Mail art 

Dear Data by Giorgia Lupi, Stefanie Posavec 

File under World history - Pictorial works

The Infographic History of the World by Valentina D'Efilippo and James Ball

The Looks of Love: 50 Moments in Fashion That Inspired Romance by Hal Rubenstein


File under Social life and customs

Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill 

Rhapsody in Schmaltz: Yiddish Food and Why We Can't Stop Eating It by Michael Wex

Dime Stories by Tony Fitzpatrick

Fed, White, and Blue: Finding America With My Fork by Simon Majumdar

Tea & Antipathy: An American Family in Swinging London by Anita Miller

The Other Paris by Luc Sante 

The Real Traviata: The Song of Marie Duplessis by René Weis 

This Victorian Life by Sarah Chrisman [eBook]

Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta by Richard Grant 

Of Beards and Men: The Revealing History of Facial Hair by Christopher Oldstone-Moore 

Box Girl: My Part-Time Job As An Art Installation by Lilibet Snellings  

Hip Hop Family Tree by Ed Piskor

Of All the Gin Joints: Stumbling Through Hollywood History by Mark Bailey

Truth be told, the subject "Social life and customs" is a bit of a cheat on our part. In the library catalog, you'll usually find it modified by another term such as "Paris (France) - Social life and customs - 20th century." If you try a subject search of "Social life etc." in the classic catalog, you will be advised to search by "Manners and customs," another delightful search byway, but not as comprehensive.
You can also search by subject in the library catalog, without clicking into an item record, but unless you know the subject heading already, you might get a message like this one, circled in red:

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