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Subject Searching in TIGER

Subject or Word Search?

Often when you are starting work on a paper or project, you have a general topic in mind. It might seem to make sense to start with a subject search of TIGER but that often isn’t the best place to start.

Subjects in TIGER come from the Library of Congress, and what they think is a subject may not be what you think of as a subject. Sometimes TIGER will help you: if you search for “Hindu art” as a subject, it will tell you that the “real” subject heading is “Art, Hindu.” But sometimes you will just come up empty.

For that reason, it can be better to start with a word search on your topic.

So What Good is a Subject Search?

When you have already found a good book on your topic, you will often want to find more, similar books. That’s when subjects are very helpful.

Example: you have been reading Paul Fussell’s book The Great War and Modern Memory, which is about the poets of the First World War, and you need some other books on the same topic for your paper. If you pull up that book in TIGER, you’ll see that one of the subjects assigned to that book is World War, 1914-1918 — Literature and the war, and that the subject is hyperlinked in TIGER.

If you click on the subject, you’ll see that there are a total of 31 books with that subject listed in TIGER. Of those 31, at least a couple should be helpful for your paper.

Subject searches are also good for finding works about a person, rather than works written by a person. A subject search on Wittgenstein will show you all the books about Ludvig Wittgenstein, rather than just the books he wrote (which you could find with an author search). It will also show you all the more specific sub-headings under his name.

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