When you don't have titles or authors, and you want to know what the library has on a topic, you'll want to use a subject browse. BUT DON'T.
Why not? If it works for finding titles quickly, why not subjects?
It's because subjects are very specific headings given to items - like tags. Read about "subject headings" to understand.
Subject Headings are like extremely specific tags applied to items in a library catalogue. The Library of Congress (in the U.S.) provides the official list of terms that can be used - a set of four huge books.
TOPCAT's Subject Browse refers to the list of Library of Congress Subject Headings that are used in our catalogue. It matches up your search term to a spot on our alphabetical list of Subject Headings. These headings are complex and if you aren't familiar with them you'll have trouble.
Subject Headings are a specific part of the TOPCAT record. They don't show in the brief record of an item; click on "Catalogue Record" to see them.
Some items (Government Publications, for example) don't include Subject Headings in their descriptions.
When you want to search for items on a topic, use a keyword search rather than a "subject browse". A keyword search is more flexible.
Here's a TOPCAT record for a book. Look at the Subject Headings it's been given.
The book is entitled, Mississauga Protraits: Ojibwe Voiced from Nineteenth-Century Canada. The subjects are:
Missisauga Indians - Biography
Missisauga Indians - History - 19th century
Methodists - Ontario - Biography
Methodists - Ontario - History - 19th century
Notice the different spellings of "Mississauga"?
Keyword searching is usually the best way to find items on a topic. It's a broad, flexible search that can be filtered and altered.
A keyword search finds your terms somewhere in the TOPCAT description (record) of an item.
When you keyword search specifically in "subjects", TOPCAT only looks for your terms in the Subject Headings.
Search for "women and vote" in "anywhere".
The search "women and vote" finds over 20 items in the library that have the words "women" and "vote" in their description.
More tips about keyword searching are in our Keyword Searching tutorial, since the same prinicples apply to all database searching. That's the next tutorial you'll read, but here's a link in case you want to jump there now.
The results look different from a browse search:
Look through the results and click on items that look useful to find out more about them.
Pick a topic below, or think of one that interests you. Check to see what's available in Library.
Try your search three ways:
Look at how your results change.
$ : find 0-100 characters in this position
? : find any single character in this position (but not NO character)
'single quotes' : use around terms that must appear as a phrase