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Ethnography: Find Books

SLU Libraries Catalog

The SLU Libraries Catalog consists of the holdings of all of the Saint Louis University libraries.  It is part of MOBIUS, a consortium of 60+ academic and partner libraries in Missouri with its own shared catalog.  To look for a book, begin the search in the SLU Libraries Catalog.  If the book is owned by Pius and currently available, it should be at the shelf location identified by its call number. If the book is unavailable at Pius but can be found at another SLU library, use the Catalog's Request feature request-button to borrow it from another SLU Library (you also can go and check it out yourself from these libraries).
If the book is unavailable from a SLU Library, then use the MOBIUS feature Mobius-button to search the MOBIUS Catalog and make a request to borrow the book that way. Finally, if the book is unavailable from both the SLU Libraries and MOBIUS, place an Interlibrary Loan (ILL) request for it through the ILLIAD system. [Note: All requests for journal articles should be placed through ILL.]

TUTORIAL: Click here to view an online tutorial on Catalog search basics.  You'll need Flash Player 9.0.28 or higher to view this tutorial; click here to see what version is installed currently on your computer.

  • See Help Topics on searching the SLU Libraries Catalog.
  • The SLU Library Catalog identifies all types of materials—not just books—in the collections of the SLU Libraries. For periodicals, it indicates the libraries’ holdings but does not display information at the article level. Use the resources in the Databases section of this guide to identify resources that will lead to articles on a topic.
  • The SLU Locust Street Library Facility (LSLF) holds valuable but less frequently used material in a high-density, climate-controlled, and closed-stack environment, including  most bound journals published before 2000, and journals that are no longer received in print.  Each item will appear in the SLU Libraries Catalog with the location “Locust Street Facility.”  
      Request individual journal volumes or other items housed in the LSLF using the REQUEST button in the SLU Libraries Catalog.  Books will be delivered to the Library of your choice for pickup, usually within 24 hours, Monday-Friday. You will receive an email at your SLU email address when the item is ready for pickup or use in the Library.

          Searching the Catalog by Subject

          Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)

          Subject searching, i.e., Subject (LC), typically is the most efficient approach to using a library catalog...IF the topic of your search is captured by LCSH.  If it's not, then you'll have to rely on keyword searching.  Some tips:

          • Be sure to follow embedded cross-references. For example, as you saw in the Get Started section of this guide, if you conduct a subject search on Ethnography, you will be instructed to use Ethnology instead. 
          • When you search the subject heading Ethnology, the resultant display indicates there are

          o Related Subjects – These include narrower terms such as Manners and customs.  Each of these narrower terms may, in turn, have their own Related Subjects (e.g., Manners and customs has Marriage customs and rites).
          o Subdivided Subjects – These include subject subdivisions (e.g., Ethnology History) as well as geographical subdivisions (e.g., Ethnology Africa East OR !Kung (African people) Social life and customs) to help focus the search. 

          Suppose you are researching the Basseri, a nomadic pastoral tribe living in what is now Iran. You try a "Subject (LC)" search on "Basseri" and are directed to "Baseri tribe" instead.  (Keep in mind that some groups may have more than one name, or ethnonym!)  The search leads to a book titled Nomads of South Persia: The Basseri Tribe of the Khamseh Confederacy, by Fredrik Barth (1961).  This happens to be the major ethnographic study of this group.  If you look toward the bottom of the Catalog record for this book, you'll see the line "Subjects  Baseri tribe" which confirms that the official LCSH is "Baseri tribe."  Here's what that Catalog record looks like:


          Similarly, suppose you are researching the Trobriand Islanders and come across the LCSH "Trobriand Islands (Papua New Guinea)" with subject subdivisions such as "Social life and customs."  Here's the Catalog record for one of the books resultant from this search:

          Look at the "Subjects" -- Searching "Ethnology-Papua New Guinea-Trobriand Islands" may help you find additional information on your topic.

          To find these books in Pius Library, check a Location Guide to see where they are shelved.

          Searching the Catalog by Keyword


          Whenever you are able to identify a Library of Congress Subject Heading (LCSH) to do subject searching, use it because subject searches tend to be more focused searches.  Keyword searches, on the other hand, seek the presence of a string of characters in these fields of the catalog record: author, title, subject, and note.  Because keyword search results indicate the character string is present in a record but do not necessarily mean that the resource represented by the record is about the search topic, they can be less efficient than searches using LCSH.  For example, while a keyword search of Inuit identifies publications that include information on these people who live in the Arctic regions of several countries, including Alaska in the United States, some of those publications will give only passing mention to the Inuit. 

          Sometimes, however, there are no apparent Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) that fit a topic.  In those situations, keyword searching can be very useful because they can lead to relevant LCSH that are used in the Catalog.  For example, you are researching the Hijras of India; a "Subject (LC)" search turns up nothing.  So you do a keyword search (i.e., search as words), and find several relevant books that way.  From the titles of those books, as well as the "Subjects" shown in the Catalog records, you'll see that the term "Hijras" relates to the group's sexuality. 
          More Advice for Searching the SLU Libraries Catalog:
          1. Don't include more than two terms in a keyword search.  Library catalog records are not as detailed as journal database records, which often include abstracts, so less is more with the Catalog.  For example, "Tiwi and marriage" is probably ok.  But "Tiwi and marriage and gender roles" probably will be too narrow, causing you to miss relevant publications.
          2. Including the keyword "ethnographies" in your search may unnecessarily restrict the search.  Many records of ethnographic studies will not explicitly be labeled as such; you'll recognize that they are that type of research just from the information presented about the publication.

          Searching the MOBIUS Catalog

          Always start your search for books in the SLU Libraries Catalog.  What if the book you need is owned by Pius Library but is on loan to someone else?  OR What if you want to see if other academic libraries in Missouri have books on your topic?  All you need to do is search that particular book TITLE or SUBJECT (LC) in the SLU Libraries Catalog and then click on the icon that appears in the Catalog record.  You'll easily be able to see if other libraries in SLU's statewide consortium have the book you need or related books that you can borrow.  Click here for instructions on requesting books via MOBIUS.