The Library Catalog
Use the library's online catalog (BobCat) to find books and journals in NYU's Bobst Library, other NYU libraries, as well as the libraries of the New School and Cooper Union.
Common Search Terms
If you are looking for:
- Biographical information, then use the search term "biography".
- Bibliographical information, then use the search term "bibliography".
- A dictionary, then use the search term "dictionaries" (in the plural).
- A catalog, then use the search term "catalogs" (in the plural).
- A journal, then use the search term "periodicals" (in the plural).
- Plays or other theatrical works (or secondary material on that subject), then use the search term "drama".
- Critical and secondary material about a work, then use the search term "criticism" or "history and criticism".
- Information about manuscripts and archival material, then use the search term "manuscripts" or "archives".
Combining Search Terms
You can combine search terms to narrow your results to a specific topic. For example:
- To find a biography of Gabriela Mistral, use the subject terms "gabriela mistral" and "biography".
- To find criticism on Jorge Luis Borges's writing, use the subject terms "borges" and "criticism".
- To find a dictionary of the Portuguese-based creole language Papiamento, use the subject terms "papiamento" and "dictionaries".
- After searching in BobCat using keywords that feel natural and intuitive, once you have found one or more items in BobCat that seem to fit the subject or subjects you are interested in, be sure to click on the title to view the complete record for each item. Scroll down to the "Details" section of the complete record to find the various subjects assigned to that item by the cataloger.
- NYU Libraries uses Library of Congress Subject Headings (as well as others). These are standardized terms that are not necessarily intuitive for users unfamiliar with the Library of Congress's conventions. Many sound arbitrary or frankly outdated. For instance, works on Cultural Studies may have been assigned subjects like "Spain -- Civilization" or "Latin America -- Civilization," a term that is now often contentious among scholars. Nevertheless, it can be very useful to note this conventional subject vocabulary for more precise searches.
- In addition, if you click on the hyperlinks for the subjects listed in the complete record, BobCat executes a new search that will bring up all items that have been assigned that subject, offering an efficient way to track down more materials that are relevant to your initial query. (Note also that you can find a list of subjects in the "Tweak my results" filters on the left-hand side of your initial search results. This list can be quite long, however, as it will include every subject heading that appears in the records for each item in your entire list of results.)
For more information about navigating Library of Congress Subject Headings, this research guide for US History provides a more detailed explanation of some of that system's idiosyncrasies.