Browsing

A Sample Browse

There are two primary ways of finding items in BIBLOS: searching keywords and browsing fields. Searching allows you to look for any arbitrary word or combination of words anywhere in a record. Browsing is fundamentally different. It allows you to scan an alphabetical list of fields in various categories (author, title, subject, etc.). Ordinarily you must know the first word in a field to browse that field (e.g., the first word of a title).

The distinction between searching and browsing is best grasped by describing an example of browsing. A sample browse might proceed as follows. Click the Other Searches button to display a menu of options. Pick "Alphabetic Browse author/title/subject etc." and a browse screen will appear (Figure 610).

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Figure 610: Browse Dunn, James

Type "Dunn James" as your search argument, pick author, and press enter. A list of fields like Figure 620 will appear. At this point you may move alphabetically forward or backward by clicking the Next or Previous. The numbers to the right of each name indicate the number of records associated with line. To see books by an author in the list, just click the underlined entry.

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Figure 620:Browse results for Dunn, James

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Figure 630:Browse results for China--church history

The value of browsing is pretty obvious. The browse for "Dunn" helps us discover the proper form of name. The browse for "China" (Figure 630) helps us break a broad subject into several more specific aspects.

A few tips:

  • Initial articles are not included in the browse title indexes. So, for example, browse for The Journal of Presbyterian History under "Journal" not "The".
  • It is not necessary to enter a complete author, title or subject.
  • Personal names are entered last name first (like Dunn, James), so browse accordingly.
  • Omit punctuation when you browse. Often punctuation will make no difference, but there are some special cases that do matter like >> China--Church History versus >> China Church History. Omitting punctuation will usually get you what you want.

Word Order in Fields and Subfields

While keyword searches match arbitrary words anywhere in a field, browses match initial words and phrases in a field, so you must specify the initial word(s) in a field in order to browse. Note the Library of Congress convention is to list names of people last name first. This means you should enter last name first for name browses. The title browse indexes exclude initial articles, so if the title is >> The pietist theologians then browse under P not T.

So browsing by a name or title is quite easy. Subjects, however, present some problems. Words do not always appear in the order you would expect in Library of Congress subject headings. Consider the following valid LC headings: >> Education, Elementary >> Religious Education Why not Elementary Education (normal word order) or Education, Religious (inverted order)?

The main problem with subject browsing is that you must know what the official LC subject heading is before you can browse for it. How do you discover the magic wording? Take heart; often a guess will prove correct. Sometimes a cross reference will appear in a browse. However, sometimes you will browse and find no relevant entry. If that happens, do a keyword search using the word or phrase you have in mind. Review the records retrieved to see what subject headings are used. Then search or browse using any promising headings.

Technical Note on Subfield Rotation in Subject Fields

Because it is often hard for you to know what the first word of a subject field is, we have taken extra steps to enhance the browse indexes for Subject and BiblePassage. In BIBLOS, the subject and BiblePassage index routines rotate subfields to the initial position also, so it is possible to browse not only words which begin fields, but also words which begin subfields.

What is a subfield? Consider this Library of Congress entry for a Bible passage: >> Bible |pNT |pRomans iii |xCriticism and interpretation It consists of a main subfield (Bible), subfield "p" repeated twice, and subfield x (topical subdivision). Subfield codes are invisible when you search, but still important.

In the indexing process, each subfield is rotated to the beginning of the string. So all of the following appear in the BiblePassage browse index: >> Bible |NT |Romans iii |Criticism and interpretation >> Criticism and interpretation |Bible |NT |Romans iii >> Romans iii |Criticism and interpretation |Bible |NT >> NT |Romans iii |Criticism and interpretation |Bible

Thus you can browse

BiblePassage Romans iii

in the BiblePassage index. Simple.

On rare occasion rotation of subfields in BiblePassage may still fail to provide access as you would expect. The official Library of Congress form of entry for 1st John is >> Bible |pN.T. |pEpistle of John, 1st so you can browse >> Epistle of John but not >> John, 1st since John, 1st is in the middle of a subfield!

Documenting subfields is beyond the scope of this Guide.

When to Browse

Browsing is a valuable way of identifying exact terminology (e.g., the exact form of a name). Browsing will display cross references. Browsing under a very frequently used subject term will show all the associated subdivisions. This can be useful if you need to narrow a search. Browsing is often helpful when a keyword search retrieves many unrelated records. In theory browsing is also very helpful when you are looking for material which could be cataloged under a range of related headings like a range of dates or a range of Bible passages. See the special section dealing with searching for Bible passages.

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