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Montgomery and Wood-Walter

6_1 Commercial for search tool MU5555
by

Anna Montgomery

on 15 July 2014

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Transcript of Montgomery and Wood-Walter

Using
Library of Congress
Search
@ http://www.loc.gov
Ok, so those are my options... Is there anything I should know about trying to do a keyword search?
Search Help for a U.S. History-Related Task
Where do I begin?
Is there anything else I should know before I begin?
By Anna Montgomery and Cheryl Wood-Walter
Type keywords to search here
If you know you want your information in a certain format, click the drop-down to choose the desired format: from audio, film, different text types and visuals
OR...
You can search within a provided category if it suits your needs
You can also click this link for other categories and brief descriptions of each to help you focus your search
If your desired information can be found within one of these topics, you can choose the appropriate one to begin your search
If you are really stuck, you can "Ask a Librarian"...
"Ask a Librarian" will take you to this page...
Based upon the subject of your question, choose the appropriate link
Links without the "chat" icon will take you to a page that clarifies what the librarian can assist you with and provides a link to complete an online form that will allow you to ask your question and receive a reply via email. You could also use "snail mail," or call or fax your question!
Or you may choose to fill out the online form and wait for a reply via email...
You can chat with a librarian real-time within a chat room if the time of your inquiry fits the availability window provided
After clicking on a link that has the "chat" icon next to it, you will be redirected to a page like this one.
Be sure to complete the fields followed by the red asterisks: they are required. When finished, double-check your email is accurate and be sure to "Ask Your Question," then await the response via email.
You could search a generic era or event, such as World War II...
but note the number of responses such a search gets... 15,902! Luckily, the search results page provides you with a number of ways to refine your searches...
Automatically, the search shows what is available online. The first approach to limit your results is to choose the format
You can choose the type of online file, or choose the date that the file is tagged with (which may or may not be reliable: some documents are dated by when they entered the collection instead of when they were originally created)
You could limit your search to which website it is on within the Library of Congress, or the contributor (owner of the item) which, unless you know the owner of the information you are looking for
You can narrow your results by limiting them to specific subjects. Pay attention: If you don't see what you want, be sure to click "More Subjects." You can also limit the search to location, or the language of the information.
Note that some subjects are followed by a "chat" icon...
Although you may have learned a few tricks that help you search in other places, like some databases or in Google, they don't all work here...
Let's say you need information about Oklahoma and the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression...
You could search Great Depression... but notice that yields 2,586 results! Let's narrow it down...
...and notice the difference in the results by changing from "List" to "Gallery"
By putting an exact phrase in quotation marks, you limit the results to instances of the exact phrase, which can significantly cut down your number of results (from 2,586 to 1,956).
You do not get the same results
By searching: "great depression" "dust bowl"
and searching: "great depression"+"dust bowl"
Searching "great depression" "dust bowl" yields three types of formats.
But searching "great depression"+"dust bowl" yields 6 different formats and many more results within each. Be sure to try both approaches until you find optimal results.
Limiting results to Oklahoma, by adding it to the search string, cuts down results but only yields web pages, one image, and one PDF.
While limiting

results to Oklahoma with a + yields fewer than before, as well, but includes web pages, 15 photos/ prints/ drawings, audio clips, manuscripts, and books.
Searching without + yields results only in this century
Searching with the + yields results from both this century and the last (when the Great Depression happened).
Including a date in the search string without + reduces results but does not correct the date of results
Including a date to the search string with + increases results and does not alter the date of the results.
So now what?
Avoid using boolean logic (and, not, or) within your search strings.
Be aware that the search does not respond to truncation (starting a word but not completing it, instead ending it with ? or *)
DO include specific historical events/phrases within quotation marks as long as the phrase does not possess a boolean operator (and, not, or).
Try a few different approaches to your search strings to try to get optimal results (consider + to add concepts together, or - to eliminate concepts from a search, and just try the relevant words in a string on their own)
Any other tips?
For searches where you just want images, photos, prints, or drawings, organize results in a grid to see the most results at a time.
Hovering the mouse over an image in grid view will supply additional information, including title, contributor, website location, format, and date.
Gallery view provides an icon of the information that informs you of its format, as well as a brief title.
Hovering the mouse over the results in gallery view will show additional information
The list view provides the full title, a brief summary, and additional information next to an icon that shows the format.
One
more thing...
The Library of Congress uses BrowseAloud, "a free program that reads any word on the web page through the user's computer speakers."
It has two features: moving the cursor around the page as BrowseAloud reads the words and highlights them as they are being read, or "continuous" which allows the entire contents of a page to be read aloud without the mouse.
To activate this feature and to learn more about it, at the bottom of the Library of Congress homepage or any of the search pages, and click on "Speech Enabled."
At the bottom of the page, read more about the program and download it to use
And now, good luck, and have fun exploring the Library of Congress (www.loc.gov)!
Full transcript