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Jump Directory to Help Page Text Library of Congress Online Catalog: Help Pages

Online Catalog Home

About the Catalog
FAQs

SEARCHING:
Basic Searching
- Title
- Author/Creator Browse
- Subject Browse
- Keyword
- Command Keyword
- Call Number Browse
- LCCN-ISBN-ISSN
- Series/Uniform Title
- Author/Creator by Title
Guided Searching


Limiting Searches
Search History
Boolean Searching

INDEX CODES:
for Guided Searches
for Command Keyword

SEARCH RESULTS:
Brief Record
Subjects/Content
Full Record
MARC Tags


Headings List
Titles List
Titles List (Keyword)
References/Scope Notes
Save, Print, Email

OTHER TOPICS:
Headings List Types
Type of Material
Database Selection
Icons, Buttons & Tabs
Session Time-out Errors
Known Problems

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Topics: Access to the Catalog - Searching/Browsing
Search Results/Output
- Other Catalogs

Access to the Online Catalog

  1. Whenever I try to access the Online Catalog, I get a message that "all available connections are in use?" What does that mean? Why is it so hard to connect to the Catalog?
  2. Why does the Online Catalog look different in the Library of Congress reading rooms than it does on the Web?
  3. I have a slow Internet connection. Can I use a TELNET interface?

Searching/Browsing the Online Catalog

  1. I am sure the Library has the item I am searching for, but I can't find it in the Online Catalog. What should I do?
  2. I've checked all those other systems in Question #4, and it doesn't look like the Library has what I need. Now what?
  3. Why can't I find Name and Subject authority records in the Online Catalog?
  4. How can I view numbers from the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system in the LC Online Catalog?
  5. How can I search for government documents by their SUDOC numbers?

Search Results and Output

  1. How do I see the full text of the title I found?
  2. How do I download MARC records from the Online Catalog?
  3. How can I reformat records I've downloaded from the Catalog?
  4. When I try to Email a MARC record, I get plain text catalog records. What happened?
  5. When I try to save records in MARC format, I get a message that says "Your Email request failed!", even though I was saving, not emailing. What's the problem?
  6. How does relevance ranking work and where is it available?
  7. Why do some records have the legend "Library of Congress Holdings Information Not Available?"
  8. How can I find out whether the Library of Congress has a particular issue of a journal I need?
  9. When I look at a catalog record for a newspaper, the record says the Library of Congress has a complete run. But when I try to request a particular year at the Library , I'm told that the Library doesn’t have it. Why is that?
  10. What does the phrase [from old catalog] mean?

Relation to Other Online Catalogs

  1. What other catalogs does the Library have?
  2. Where can I search the Copyright files?
  3. Where can I search the Braille and Audio catalog?

Access to the Online Catalog

  1. Whenever I try to access the Online Catalog, I get a message that "all available connections are in use?" What does that mean? Why is it so hard to connect to the Catalog?

    The Library of Congress Online Catalog has proven so popular that it is often the case that all connections are in use. We are aware how frustrating this is, and we are working with our software vendor to increase the number of simultaneous users so that no one has difficulty getting in. We expect to move gradually towards that goal over the next few months. Until we are able to expand access to the LC Online Catalog, here are some tips for users:

    • Our peak usage is typically Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between 10:00am and 2:00pm (US Eastern Time). We suggest trying to search before or after those hours, or on Mondays, Fridays, and weekends (during off-peak hours).
    • We also suggest that folks be persistent and keep trying. Users are leaving the system, and freeing up connections, at about the same rate that they are entering the system. Connections open up continually as users exit the system. If you continue to try several times in quick succession, you will gain access more quickly.

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  2. Why does the Online Catalog look different in the Library of Congress reading rooms than it does on the Web?
    Users anywhere in the world beyond the walls of the Library of Congress can access the Online Catalog using the World Wide Web at http://catalog.loc.gov/. Users inside the Library of Congress utilize the Windows-based version of the Online Catalog. While there are some differences in the two versions, the catalog data is the same--only the interface is different.

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  3. I have a slow Internet connection. Is there text-only access to the Online Catalog?
    The Library is currently not able to offer TELNET access to a text-only version of the LC Online Catalog. An alternative interface is available using the Library's Z39.50 Gateway. This interface works well with text-based browsers, such as Lynx. To learn more about the Z39.50 protocol for information retrieval, visit the Z39.50 Maintenance Agency Page.

    The Library is aware of the need for text-based access to the Online Catalog to satisfy the needs of its offsite users. The Library is working with its system vendor, Endeavor Information Systems, Inc., to ensure that its system is accessible via a variety of browsers.

    Back to Questions

Searching/ Browsing the Online Catalog

  1. I am sure the Library has the item I am searching for, but I cannot find it in the Online Catalog. What should I do?

    Many items from the Library's special collections are accessible but not represented in this Online Catalog, including:

    • Some individual items within collections (microforms, manuscripts, photographs, etc.) are not listed separately in the Catalog, but are represented by collection-level catalog records.
    • Older materials in the general collections cataloged before 1980 may also not be in the Online Catalog. (Onsite researchers should also use the Main Card Catalog.)

    Specialized catalogs available for many of these materials through the "Research Tools" page at <http://www.loc.gov/rr/tools.html>. Also, see Question #17, "What other catalogs are available?"

    Back to Questions

  2. I've checked all those other systems in Question #4, and it still looks like the Library doesn't have what I need. Now what?

    While the Library of Congress is one of the largest libraries in the world, it doesn't have everything. If it seems like the Library doesn't have what you are looking for:

    • Try the Library's new "Ask a Librarian" service.
    • Try your local public or college library. Most libraries have access to a number of online databases, and can locate and borrow items for their patrons through Interlibrary Loan. Your local library is often the fastest and easiest resource for locating hard-to-find items.

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  3. Why can't I find name and subject authority records in the Online Catalog?

    Full MARC 21 authority records (names and subjects) are not available directly from the Catalog. However, they are available through a separate service, Library of Congress Authorities, at authorities.loc.gov.
    For more information, see "About Library of Congress Authorities."

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  4. How can I view numbers from the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system in the LC Online Catalog?

    While many Library of Congress Catalog records (mostly those for books) contain Dewey Decimal numbers, the majority do not. The Library generally assigns Dewey numbers to nearly all U.S. trade imprints, including all titles cataloged in the Cataloging in Publication (CIP) program, and to many books in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.

    You can search the Catalog by Dewey number:

    • by using Keyword in "Basic Search,"
    • in "Guided Search" with Keyword Anywhere selected, or
    • using the Command Keyword search using the index code K082.

    Please see the online help screen at URL <http://catalog.loc.gov/help/ckwindex.htm#number> for more information.

    Dewey numbers are not shown in the Brief Record display. They are displayed in either the Full Record or MARC Tags displays, accessed by selecting the tabs at the top of the Brief Record display.

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  5. How can I search for government documents by their SUDOC numbers?

    To search by SUDOC number, use the Command Keyword search method with the K086 index code. For successful results, punctuation and spaces must be exactly as entered in the record, and always enclosed in quotation marks (e.g., K086 "Y 4.F 76/2:el" with a space after the Y and the F). The SUDOC is displayed in the Full Record display under the label Govt. Doc. No.:. It is also found in the MARC Tags display in field 086.

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Search Results and Output

  1. How do I see the full text of the title I found?

    The full text of the printed books in the Library's collections is not available in the Online Catalog.

    While most of the records in the Catalog describe "physical" items in the collections (books, print periodicals, sound recordings, etc.), the Library does have a growing collection of electronic resources: digitized photographs and motion pictures, electronic journals and databases, etc.
    - To identify these electronic items in the Catalog, look for the label Links: on the "Brief Record" display. These links will take you to the electronic item described by the record.
    - For more information about the Library's digital collections, see Question #17, "What Other Catalogs are Available?"

    Back to Questions

  2. How do I download MARC records from the Online Catalog?

    To save (download) MARC records from the Catalog, use your browser's "File | Save" feature. For more detailed information, see the help file on saving MARC records.

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  3. How can I reformat records I've downloaded from the Catalog?

    There are a number of thrid-party commercial software products available specifically designed to manipulate and reformat MARC21 records, such as those from the Library's Catalog. In addition to a "card" display, most of these products also allow output in a variety of other bibliography and citation styles.

    A list of these products is available at:

    Open Directory Project

    Back to Questions

  4. When I try to Email a MARC record, I get plain text catalog records. What happened?

    While it may appear that it is possible to Email MARC records, it is not. If the radio button for MARC Format is selected and the record(s) are Emailed, they will be received in the standard ASCII format. However, it is possible to save a single catalog record or a set of records in the MARC Communications Format - see previous question.

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  5. When I try to save records in MARC format, I get a message that says "Your Email request failed!", even though I was saving, not emailing. What's the problem?

    We believe this problem is related to the version of the Web browser being used. Our software vendor, Endeavor Information Systems, Inc. reports that this is a known problem for users of more recent versions of both Netscape and Microsoft Internet Explorer for Windows (v6 and higher), and for the Macinctosh.

    If you recently had your browser upgraded to either version, this would most likely account for the problem you are experiencing. Our vendor is working on a solution, but we do not yet have it available here at the Library of Congress. Until we do, there are only two known workarounds:

    1. Use an earlier version of your browser (such as the Windows/PC versions, Netscape 4.7, or IE 5.5) when saving MARC records from the Library of Congress Online Catalog.
    2. If your library software supports it, search and save records from the Library's Catalog via a Z39.50 connection (check with your library software vendor to see if this feature is available). Once configured, most Z39.50 client software will let you search the Library's Catalog and save MARC records directly. (For more information on Z39.50 client software, see the Z39.50 Software page.)

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  6. How does relevance ranking work and where is it available?

    The results of a Keyword search on the "Basic Search" screen are displayed in order of their relevance to your search. In the Title List following a Keyword search, the display will include a column with a "Relevance" indicator; the most relevant items display first. The relevance is determined by three factors:

    • Uniqueness of search terms within the database.
    • Proximity of search terms to each other within the catalog record.
    • Number of different search terms present in a catalog record.


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  7. Why do some records have the legend "Library of Congress Holdings Information Not Available?"

    This legend displays on Online Catalog records in three general categories.

    -- items cataloged before they are published, through the Cataloging in Publication program. The Online Catalog does not include holdings information in these records until the Library receives the actual books.
    -- records for items which were cataloged as part of a special progam but not added to the Library's collections (e.g., large print books).
    -- records for which holdings and location information could not be created during the initial migration of data from legacy systems to the current Online Catalog. Plans for correcting these records are underway.

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  8. How can I find out whether the Library of Congress has a particular issue of a journal I need?

    Beginning October 1, 1999, Library staff have been checking in new serial issues as they are received, starting with a few titles and then gradually adding more until all current receipts are checked in. Retrospective conversion of the older manual files will take several years. Until all titles have been converted to the new system, researchers will still need to contact the Library to find out whether or not a specific issue is held by the Library.

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  9. When I look at a catalog record for a newspaper, the record says the Library of Congress has a complete run. But when I try to request a particular year at the Library, I'm told that the Library doesn’t have it. Why is that?

    Researchers commonly misinterpret the span of dates in catalog records as holdings information. Holdings information for newspapers held by the Library is not yet available. Beginning in 2000, the Library has been adding summary holdings for every newspaper it has. Eventually, researchers will be able to know from the Online Catalog what years of a newspaper the Library has in microfilm and bound formats.

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  10. What does the phrase [from old catalog] mean?

    This phrase identifies records that were created using older cataloging rules ("PREMARC" records) and which contain obsolete and older forms of terms and headings. Out-of-date headings are being assessed and updated to conform to current cataloging practice.

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Relation to Other Online Catalogs

  1. Where can I search the Braille and Audio catalog?

    The Web-BLND catalog of the National Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is available through the Library of Congress web site <http://www.loc.gov/nls/web-blnd/search.html> . Please consult the home page for the National Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped <http://www.loc.gov/nls/> for additional information on the Book Catalogs and Listings.

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  2. What other catalogs are available?

    In addition to the main Library of Congress Online Catalog, the Library currently has a number of other catalogs for materials in its collections. Many of these are for special format materials, such as digital collections (see American Memory), prints and photographs, sound recordings, etc. Please see the Catalogs web page for more information.

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  3. Where can I search the Copyright files?

    The U.S. Copyright Office records--including registration information and recorded documents from 1978 to the present--are available via the "Copyright Search" system <http://www.loc.gov/copyright/search>.

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Library of Congress Online Catalog
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September 3, 2003