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Baseball Resources at the Library of Congress

Searching the Online Catalog

Henry Sandham, artist. Base ball / aquarelle print by L. Prang & Co. 1887. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The Library of Congress Online Catalog contains approximately 19 million records representing books, serials, computer files, manuscripts, cartographic materials, music, sound recordings, and visual materials. It is the major tool used to identify books held by the Library in its General Collections as well as many of its special format collections and international collections.

There are a number of ways to search the catalog in order to retrieve records for titles related to baseball. Broadly speaking, you can search the catalog by by keyword or browse by authors/creators, subjects, names/titles, series/uniform titles, and call numbers. Browse lists also include searching aids such cross-references and scope notes.

The major methods of searching the catalog are discussed by former Library of Congress librarian Thomas Mann in his guide Doing Research at the Library of Congress. Other information on how to search the online catalog is available through the Online Catalog Help Pages, along with the context-specific tips that appear at the bottom of each catalog search page.

The information below provides basic information on searching the online catalog by subject, the availability of full-text books in the catalog, and how to locate materials held by the Library of Congress in other libraries.

Note: Some of the book mentioned on this page link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.

Subject Searching

One of the best ways to locate relevant books on baseball-related topics is subject searching. If you are able to identify relevant Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), which are topical headings assigned to Library materials by catalogers, you can search the online catalog using the headings to retrieve titles that have been assigned them. The following are examples of Library of Congress Subject Headings related to baseball. Click on any LCSH below to open either a page of results, or a listing of subject headings that begins with that heading.

In addition to the methods for locating LCSH described by Thomas Mann, users who aren't sure what LCSH to search under can also browse for records that contain specific subject keywords. This method of searching is explained on the catalog's Search/Browse Help page.

Full-Text Books in the Library's Online Catalog

The Library makes a small, but growing, percentage of its books available online. Generally speaking, most of these digitized books are older works that are in the public domain and not protected by copyright. Examples of three baseball books listed in the online catalog and available online are:

The Library provides online access to a selection of Spalding’s Official Base Ball Guide and the Official Indoor Base Ball Guide through the digital collection The Spalding Base Ball Guides, 1889 to 1939.

To locate other digitized Library books available on our website or the partner websites Internet Archive External and HathiTrust Digital Library External, explore this list of publications, sorted by publication date, which have been classified as books or printed materials and assigned baseball as a subject term. Additional digitized baseball publications available from the Library can be found by directly searching Library publications available through the Internet Archive External. For example, results for the keyword baseball External currently retrieve more than 165 titles. Most of these publications consist of official rules, instruction manuals, and guides, along with occasional literary fare. Sample books are embedded below.

Many other public domain books and magazine articles about baseball can be found by searching online book databases, many of which are documented on the Library's Finding E-Books research guide.

Locating Library of Congress Materials at Other Libraries

Since Library books do not circulate to individuals outside the Library, researchers located offsite who want to access books they've identified through the Library of Congress Online Catalog should check with their local library to see if it holds the books. If it does not, a librarian there may be able to request the book through interlibrary loan (ILL) with a library that holds it. While the Library of Congress does have an ILL service, it should be used only as a source for material not available through local, state, or regional libraries.

Another resource researchers can use to locate libraries near them that hold a copy of a particular title is a database known as WorldCat. WorldCat functions as a collective catalog of thousands of libraries around the world. A subscription version of WorldCat is available at some public and many academic libraries, while a free version is available on the Web at External. WorldCat's Advanced Search External feature allows researchers to locate catalog records for books and other materials held by WorldCat member libraries. Each WorldCat record includes a field labeled Enter your location in which researchers can enter their zip code or other geographic information to return a list of libraries nearest them that should hold the title. The researchers (or a local librarian) can then contact that library or check its online catalog to confirm the work is held there.