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New Jersey: History of Printing and Publishing

Search Strategies

The Library of Congress Online Catalog is the main access point for the Library's collections, providing access to 9 million bibliographic records for books, serials, manuscripts, maps, music, recordings, images, and electronic resources in the Library's collections. The tips on this page provide strategies for locating rare materials in the Library's online catalog.

Why Is Locating Material by this Author or Publisher Difficult?

When searching for material in the Library of Congress Online Catalog, using the Library of Congress Authorities Online Catalog is a useful gateway to success. Authority records have the potential to save researchers a lot of unnecessary frustration. Here's why: authors are occasionally known by more than one name, or operate under a pseudonym. In order to create uniform and searchable records, catalogers choose one name as the official name by which to link all of the author's writings. This official name is called the "Authorized Heading."


  • Amiri Baraka: Born Everett Leroy Jones, in college changed the spelling of his first name to LeRoi; then in the 1960s, after converting to Islam, he adopted the Bantuized Arabic name Imamu Ameer Baraka, which he would later alter to Amiri Baraka. The Library of Congress collocates all of Baraka's material under the Authorized Heading: Baraka, Amiri, 1934-2014.
  • Book designer Arthur W. Rushmore of the Golden Hind Press, also occasionally wrote and published under the name Theodore Bachaus. The Library of congress collocates all of Rushmore's material under the authorized heading for Rushmore, Arthur W., 1883-1955.

Want to know more? Check out the Library of Congress Authorities Tutorial and the Library of Congress Authorities: FAQs.

Have you ever heard of a place called Nova Caesaria?

Most people haven't. It is one of the names given to the area now known as New Jersey. Researchers working with material from particular locations may experience confusion and frustration, because the names used are often different than the names by which a place is known today.

Over the course of its history, New Jersey has gone by several names, making research potentially complicated. Originally inhabited by the Lenni Lenape (Delaware) people, many of the state's towns and cities have names derived from Native American origins. The region was first officially claimed for Holland by Henry Hudson in 1609 and dubbed "New Netherlands." These origins are still present in certain place names, such as Barnegat, a Dutch name meaning "breaker's inlet." Holland held control of the region until 1664 when England took over, renamed the area New Jersey, and further divided the region into East and West Jersey. In 1702, the two colonies merged into the royal Province of New Jersey; also known as Nova Caesaria. Understanding the origins of place names can be extraordinarily helpful when doing research, particularly the further back in time that you go.

In 1938, the New Jersey Writers' Project began compiling a catalog of the names of governmental and geographic areas in the state. In the end their list contained 930 entries, called the Origin of New Jersey Place Names (PDF 1.3 MB) External, which is available online.

Another useful resource for learning about place names in New Jersey is Henry Gannett's The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. United States: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1905 (PDF, 24.8 MB).

Douglas Graham, photographer. [Library of Congress-Card catalogs]. 1997. CQ Roll Call Photograph Collection. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

What are the three parts of Library of Congress online catalog record?

  1. Bibliographic Record
    The bibliographic record provides information for the publication. For printed material, the information provided in this area of the record is based on the ideal copy. The bibliographic information is contained on the top portion of the record. See this record for an example.
  2. Holdings Record
    The holdings record provides information about a particular copy. Most importantly, this is the section of the bibliographic record that indicates where in the Library an item is located. In such a large library, where it can take a researcher fifteen minutes to get from one Reading Room to another, the holdings record is a very important section to pay attention to. This information is contained at the bottom of the record under ITEM AVAILABILITY. This is a very important section to review prior to making an onsite visit to the Reading Room. As an example this record indicates the item is located in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division (LJ-239). All material located in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division should have a holdings record that looks just like this.
  3. Item Record:
    This portion of the record indicates the specific number of copies, issues, or years in the Library of Congress' holdings. The Library of Congress may have a particular journal title, but perhaps only from three of the six years that it was issued. In this record, the item records indicate that the Library of Congress, and specifically the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, has two copies of the same publication from two different collections. When requesting these items, a researcher should look at the call number provided in this lower section and be able to differentiate between the Copy 1 and Copy 2.
A Word of Caution: A researcher whose work involves very specific issues or editions or volumes of a particular title is encouraged to contact the Reading Room Staff prior to their visit to insure that the particular volume required is on shelf and available to be served. Send a query through the Ask-A-Librarian services at any time.

Using Subject Headings

Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) are helpful when searching in the online catalog. Authorized subject headings include standardized topics, names, places, titles, and forms/genres of material. To get you started, the linked subject headings below will perform canned searches in the Library of Congress Online Catalog:

Rare Books and Special Collections

Significant progress has been made in recent years to provide online cataloging records for the Rare Book and Special Collections Division's holdings. The phrase “Request in: Rare Book/Special Collections Reading Room” appears at the bottom of online records for rare books:

If the book is in a special collection within the division's holdings, an abbreviation of that collection name is part of the call number. Examples include "Kislak Coll" for the Jay I Kislak Collection and “Am Imp” for the American Imprint Collection.

Reading Room Card Catalogs for Unprocessed Materials

Special card files in the reading room still provide valuable access information for collections that have not been cataloged and for cataloged collections for which there are no records online. Other special files have provenance, inscription, and binding information on books from many collections.

The division's own dictionary catalog contains 650,000 cards that provide access to almost the whole of the division's collections by author or other form of main entry and, in some instances, by subject and title also. The card file was closed in 1991 and no cards have been added since then. It remains available in the reading room for access to those collections whose records are not yet online.

Other Resources

There is no single catalog that contains records for all items held in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division. Some items are found only in published bibliographies or divisional finding aids. The staff in the division can help locate and use these additional resources.