Library of Congress Subject Headings

Many academic libraries use the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), which a list of words used to describe the subject matter of a book -- any book about anything . This requires a lot of words, and the entire list fills six thick volumes in pretty small print.

When a book is cataloged and added to a library collection, it is assigned one or more Library of Congress Subject headings by the librarian who catalogs the book.

For example, the book The World of Butterflies and Moths is assigned four subject headings:

butterflies -- pictorial works.
moths -- pictorial works.

There are two main ways to use the Library of Congress Subject Headings

  • First, you can use the six volume print set to look up headings to use when searching the Kent Library Catalog. When you look up a term in the LCSH print set, it also suggests terms that are broader in scope, narrower in scope, or related to the term you've looked up. This requires being in the library to use the print set, but it is very exact and can make your search of the online catalog more efficient.
  • Secondly, you can search the Kent Library Catalog using a keyword search, browse to find a book that looks close to the topic you're looking for, and see what subject headings have been assigned to the book. Subject headings in the Kent Library Catalog can be clicked on to search for other books that have been assigned that heading. This method can be used anywhere you can access the Kent Library Catalog, and can eliminate a lot of guesswork if you are unfamiliar with the format and style of Library of Congress Subject Headings.