Our Library Catalog is a terrific resource for those of you looking for titles of books, movies, audiobooks, music, or other items you can check out from our Library and others in our system. But did you know how much more you can discover through our catalog?
Evergreen, which is the system that supports our catalog, has a number of really interesting and helpful search features that can help you pinpoint the materials best suited to your needs, and we love taking the opportunity to highlight some of those. But Evergreen is also fun for those who are just looking for something totally new and different, as well. The “Subject” searches can sometimes be really illuminating–and sometimes a little strange.
In searches, “Subject” represents the Library of Congress Subject Headings–they are various terms and categories assigned to all books in order to help patrons find other books with similar subject material ( you can learn more about them here!). You can find these subjects on the left-hand side of the screen any time you perform a search, like this one here that I ran on “Louisa May Alcott”:
Note: Click on these images to see larger, better quality versions!
You can also see the subject of a specific work at the bottom of that item’s page. For example, here is are the subject headings for Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air:
These Subjects can be enormously helpful when you’re looking for another book like one you just finished, or you need to conduct research into a specific topic. They are also really handy for playing “Fun With Your Library Catalog”. In this game (which is, admittedly, a little nerdy), you try to find some very random, unexpected, but nevertheless, interesting Subject Headings in our catalog.
It’s a fun game, let me tell you, but it’s also quite time consuming, because I usually end up requesting the books I find, and then reading them, and then going off to find more…..Ok, so maybe “Fun With the Library Catalog” is a lifestyle, and less of a game. But I can guarantee you, it’s one of the best ways to get to know the materials and the Libraries in our system, and also an inexpensive way to acquire a whole head-full of knowledge!
So here are a few of my favorite finds from “Fun With The Library Catalog”–feel free to let us know about your most random/entertaining/enlightening Library finds, or use these as your jumping off point for your own explorations!
Because social potatoes are the best kind of potatoes! Under this subject heading, you’ll find Dr. Redcliffe Salaman’s The History of Social Influence of the Potato, the result of a lifetime of research into the history of this starchy treasure, and historian Larry Zuckerman’s The Potato: How the Humble Spud Saved the Western World. The truth is, the potato, subterranean and dirty though it may be, has had a long and exciting history, and influencing culture and sustaining human beings in a way that I promise will surprise you!
Reading about the potato got me thinking about more cultures of food, which led me to this subject heading, which deals with what Americans eat, but also why they eat it, and how that food shapes American culture. Within this subject heading, you’ll find The Taste of America, a book that travels the country to find the best foods in America, from spicy cheese to the juiciest oysters (talk about a fantastic form of wanderlust!). You’ll also find Dethroning the Deceitful Pork Chop : Rethinking African American Foodways from Slavery to Obama, a book that looks at how Black people in America have used food as a kind of subversion and resistance–a fascinating series of well-researched articles that will help you rethink the power of food in our identity and culture.
This is actually a useful subject search for those who want to explore fiction from other places. Simply enter the place you’re looking for in the space where I put “Antarctica”. But if you, like me, are looking to get as far away as possible on your literary adventures, then use this subject search to find books like Cold Skin by Albert Sanchez Pinol, a chilling (har, har) tale about a young weather who finds no trace of the man whom he has been sent to the Antarctic to replace–just a deranged castaway who has witnessed a horror he refuses to name. Or perhaps you’d enjoy Bill Evan’s Dry Ice, a techno-thriller about agribusiness, machines that can control the weather, and the woman sent to Antarctica to ensure the world’s safety.