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Southeast Asian Collection: Asian Collections at the Library of Congress

Romanization & Search Strategies

This page provides tips and search strategies for discovering material from the Southeast Asian collection within the vast collections accessible via the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Searching for materials in Asian languages requires the romanization of book titles, author names, and other keywords according to the ALA-LC Romanization Tables. Contact reference staff through Ask a Librarian for help with using the online catalog or finding specific materials.

Romanization & Search Strategies for Southeast Asia

In order to find Southeast Asian language materials written in non-Latin scripts in the Library of Congress Online Catalog please consult the ALA-Library of Congress Romanization tables. There you will find how to transliterate the author name or title of works accurately so you can find the results you are seeking.

There are ALA-Library of Congress Romanization tables available for the following Southeast Asian languages:

It is necessary to search using the Romanization table for your language in order to find the desired results.

There are a number of ways to search the online catalog. When searching, you can refine your search results to only display results from a certain country (e.g. Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Vietnam). You can further refine your search to only return results of publications in certain languages. You can also refine the search by format or date range. Using multiple limits can provide highly relevant results. The following screenshot shows selected limits for "Place of publication", "Type of material" and "Language."

Screenshot shows selected limits for Place of publication, Type of material and Language useful when searching Southeast Asia materials

Additional Ways to Search

In addition to Keyword searching, and using limits, there are two other search options that may be useful. They are described below:

Browse by Subject

Another powerful way to locate relevant materials is to browse by subject. To do this, select Browse from the search types on the main Library of Congress Online Catalog page.

  • Browse search (Library of Congress Online Catalog)
    Use either "SUBJECTS beginning with" or "SUBJECTS containing"
    Please note, this type of search uses authorized subject terms; if you do not know the exact subject heading, use the method below to discover relevant headings

Using the Keyword Search, enter a topics into the search box (for example: "Burma economic policy"). When looking at a single relevant record, scroll down to "Subjects" which will present you will options for more refined searching. By selecting a subject link, you will see all results for that subject but also nearby subject terms. This is a very powerful way to search.

Using Advanced Search

From the main Library of Congress Online Catalog page, select advanced search.

Using this search, you can specify the bibliographic field you want to target with your search. For example:

  • title (Title All (KTIL), Title Uniform(KTUT))
  • author (Name: Personal (KPNC), Name: Corp/Meeting (KCNC), Name: All (KNAM))

Searching the notes field (Notes (KNOT)) will yield results in a certain language (e.g. "In Thai"). You can also search by number, like ISBN, ISSN or LCCN (LC Control Number) using KNUM.

Finally, when you find a record that you would like to return to later remember to always save the web address listed on the "LCCN Permalink" rather than what is in your Address or URL bar. You can also print or email any record. And you can even request the item. It is especially important to request the item ahead of time if it is stored off site and needs to be transported to one of the Library's reading rooms. If an item is stored off site the holding record at the bottom of the page will state Cabin Branch, Landover or Fort Meade.

For more information, please see the Using the Library of Congress section of this guide.

Search Tips

  • Note that names may be written differently: e.g. "Rangoon" vs "Yangon" or "Vientiane" vs "Vīangchan" or "Bangkok" vs "Krung Thēp" vs "Phra Nakhō̜n." For best results, consider searching each spelling variation.
  • Do not use personal or honorific titles when searching by name.
  • Both old and new variations of spelling can be found in the LC catalog: e.g. "Djakarta" and "Jakarta," or "Soekarno" and "Sukarno." For best results, consider searching each spelling variation.
  • When viewing a record, be sure to consult the subject headings, which can provide additional relevant results.
  • Searching by author/creator can lead to additional relevant results.