Catalog Help

The Library Catalog is used to search for books, journal titles (not individual journal articles), films, art, and other materials. You may conduct a search by using the pull-down menu, or using the links to title, author, subject, etc. Novice users may benefit from using the links because relevant search tips are provided on each search screen. If you need additional assistance, please contact Library Reference or call the reference desk at (212)769-5400.

Searching Basics

Below are basic explanations for the following types of searches: Title, Author, Subject, Call No., ISBN/ISSN, and Keyword.

Title
For title searches, type in the first word of the title (excluding "a," "an," or "the") and as many subsequent words as you like (in the exact order that they appear in the title). For example:
·american museum novitates
·journal of the american
·national geo
To search for one-word Journal titles (i.e. Nature, Science) insert a pipe after the title:
·nature|
·science|

Author
Type the person's name, last name first. You may also type the name of an organization or governmental body. For example:
·darwin
·mead, marg
·central asiatic exped

Subject
Use Library of Congress subject headings. If you are not sure what subject heading to use, ask Reference Staff to show you how to use the multivolume set: Library of Congress Subject Headings. Or, read more about subject searching from the Library of Congress website. For example:
·natural history periodic
·mammals africa
·audubon, j

If your subject search is unsuccessful, the catalog gives you the option to "search as words."

Library of Congress (LC) Call Number
To browse, conduct a search by typing as much of the Library of Congress Call Number as you want. If you want to find a specific volume, you may have to enter the entire call number. For example:
·E78.N5
·QL729.P32Q57
More information about the structure of the LC call number is available on our Understanding LC Call Numbers page.

Standard Number (ISBN/ISSN)
To find a specific title, type in the entire number; you may omit hyphens.
·0028-0712
·10489711

Keyword
There are two types of keyword searches: advanced and simple. The advanced search allows you to limit your search by language, material type, book or serial, location within the library, and publication date. The simple keyword search does not have these limits. Keyword searches utilize phrase searching, truncation, Boolean operators, proximity, and allow you to search within specific fields.

Multiple keywords
Multiple words are automatically combined using AND. For example, a search for birds asia will default to birds AND asia. Type in as many words as you like:
·spain paleontology cretaceous
·ants congo wheeler classification

Phrase searching
If you want to search for an exact phrase, use double quotes:
·"human genome"
·"New York City"

Truncation
Words can be right truncated using an asterisk. Use one asterisk (*) to truncate up to five characters. Use two asterisks (**) to truncate more than five characters.

Boolean Operators
All multiple keyword searches are automatically combined using AND. Use OR to expand your search and retrieve more records. Use AND NOT to exclude words. Use parentheses to group words together. For example:
·snakes texas (defaults to: snakes AND texas)
·moths OR butterflies
·(darwin OR galapagos) OR (beagle AND explor*)
·dinosaurs AND NOT juvenile

Proximity
Use “near” to specify words close to each other in any order. Use "within #" to specify words within # words of each other in the catalog record. For example:
· wildlife near conservation
· poison* within 3 snake*Fields
Specify fields to search, using field abbreviations. Fields available for this catalog are a: (author), t: (title), s: (subject), and n: (note). For example, to do an author/title search for Audubon's Birds of America, type
· (a:audubon) and (t:birds) and (t:america)

Use of Buttons

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Displays author, call no., location, and availability of each title.

another.gif

Runs a new search in the same index.

limit.gif

Provides the option to limit a search by location, publication date, language, material type, publisher, and words in title.

wordsrch.gif

Runs a keyword search.

marc_display.gif

Shows record in MAchine Readable Cataloging format.

prevrec.gif

Allows you to see the previous record in your results list.

nextrec.gif

Allows you to see the next record in your results list.

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Shows you the list of titles in your results list.

Marking and Exporting Records

Marking and exporting lets you save search results to a flash drive, e-mail them to yourself, or put them in a citation- or printer-friendly format. To save records for export, check the boxes next to each title that you wish to save. To save all on screen, click the Save All on Page button.

1. Conduct a search.
2. Mark the records you want to export using the box to the left of the title. As you scroll through and mark each page of records you must click on the grey button at the bottom that says "Save Marked Records." Do not advance to the next page without clicking on "Save Marked Records" or the records on that page will not be saved.
3. When finished, Click on the  export_multi.gif button.
4. Choose the format you want, and where to send list for exporting.
5. Click the "Submit" button; when you're done click clear_marked.gif

Viewing Your Loans

Please contact Library Reference or call the reference desk at (212)769-5400. 

Featured Lists (New Titles)

Featured lists display catalog records in browsable lists. For example, all books put out in the Current Literature room are compiled monthly in featured lists. Other featured lists include Electronic Journals, GIS Materials, and books in the Digital Library collection.
Library of Congress Call Numbers.

Understanding Library of Congress (LC) Call Numbers

Our catalog uses the Library of Congress classification system, an alphanumeric system which groups books by subject categories, or classes. Below, we explain what a call number is, how to read call numbers, the shelving and filing rules of call numbers, and LC classification.

What is a call number?

A call number is like an address; it tells you where the book is located on the shelf. Each book, CD-ROM, journal, etc., has its own unique call number which is attached to the book's spine or upper left hand corner of the cover (or envelope). A book's call number also appears in the catalog entry in the library's online catalog (OPAC).

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Reading Call Numbers

The Library of Congress arranges materials by subject, or 'class' (see the last section below for more information on classes). The first section of the call number represents the subject of the book. The second section often represents the author's name, and the last section is the date of publication.

In the following example of a call number for the book "What you need to know about developing study skills" by Marcia J. Coman published in 1991. LB2395 is the subject (Methods of Study), .C65 represents the author's last name (Coman), and 1991 is the year of publication.

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Shelving/Filing Rules of LC Call numbers

Single letters are filed before double letters:

Q
QC
QL
R
RA

The second part of a call number is made up of a number that may have one or more digits. This line is read numerically. A call number with a smaller number is shelved before one that has a larger number. Some of these numbers may be divided by a point: these are also read numerically (smaller numbers are shelved before larger numbers)

QA70.5
QA75
QA76
QA76.15
QA76.25

The third part is the trickiest part of the call number. This part of the call number is called the "cutter". The numbers in this part are treated like decimals.

Follow these general rules when dealing with cutter numbers:

 1. Treat the letter of the cutter number alphabetically. For example, cutter numbers beginning with .B are shelved before those starting with .E.
 2. Smaller first digits after the letter are shelved before larger ones. For example, all cutter numbers beginning with .E3 would be shelved before all cutter numbers beginning with .E4, and those would be shelved before cutters beginning with .E8.
 3. Smaller second, third, etc. digits are shelved before larger ones. For example, cutters beginning with .E35 are shelved before cutters beginning with .E39. Likewise, for the third number: .E353 is shelved before .E355 and .E359.
 4. Items with only one digit after the letter are shelved before items with multiple digits beginning with the same number(s). So, the cutter number .E3 is shelved before .E35 , which is shelved before .E359.

QL60.4
.F35
QL60.5
.E359
QL60.5
.E39
QL70
.E393
QL70
.E4

Sometimes there are TWO cutter numbers in a call number. The first cutter, in these cases, is related to the subject of the work. The second cutter is related to the author. The shelving order of the second cutter follows the same four rules described above.

QE787 .C59C66
QE787 .C59S27
QE862 .D5L35
QE862 .D5L457
QE862 .D5L46

Sometimes, the top of the call number has the item's location: "Ref" for Reference room, etc. The final lines of the call numbers may include copy numbers, issue numbers, volume indicators and other annotations such as supplement or index specifiers. For example, the call numbers below are shelved in Reference:

Ref.
QL45 .A6
2001
c.1
Ref.
QL45 .A6
2001
c.2
Ref.
QL46 .D55
1999
v.1
Ref.
QL46
.D55 1999
v.2
Ref.
QL46
.D55
1999 plates

Library of Congress Classification:

To recap, a call number is a subject formula that groups materials by subject categories, or classes. Each class is identified by a letter. Classes are broken down into subclasses by adding more letters. These subclasses, in turn, are more finely delineated by numbers. Using the scheme, books are grouped together on the shelf, making it easier for you to browse the library's holdings on a specific topic. For a detailed breakdown of the subject categories, see the Library of Congress Classification Outline .

In the AMNH Library, many of our books are classed in QL (Zoology), which is a subclass in the major class Q (Science). Here is a breakdown of class QL:

QL1-355  General zoology
QL360-599.82  Invertebrates
QL461-599.82  Insects
QL605-739.8  Chordates, Vertebrates
QL614-639.8  Fishes
QL640-669.3  Reptiles and amphibians
QL671-699  Birds
QL700-739.8  Mammals
QL750-795  Animal Behavior
QL791-795  Stories & anecdotes
QL799-799.5  Morphology
QL801-950.9  Anatomy
QL951-991  Embryology

Still Need Help? Please contact the Reference Desk (x5400 or Email) for assistance. We are happy to help!