Library 101

December 4, 2002

Librarian Elaine Magusin continues the series “Things You Should Know About the Library.”

Q: What is the difference between a keyword and a subject search in AUCAT?

A: Keyword searching is a simple way to look up information on a particular topic. Instead of using very specialized vocabulary (as you would in a subject heading search) you can simply search on key terms that describe your topic. For example, if you were searching for information on teenage suicide, you might construct your search like this: teenage and suicide. This search would find all the records in the catalogue that include the words teenage and suicide in either the TITLE, SUBJECT, CONTENTS OR NOTES fields. The item records list the subject headings assigned to the topic and you can expand your search by using these headings in a subject search.

In order to start out with a subject-heading search in AUCAT, you would need to know the actual subject heading ahead of time (in this case, youth-suicidal behaviour). Subject headings are lists of controlled vocabulary used to describe topics. They are designed as a way to “find and gather” all the information on a particular subject so that instead of searching for teenager or youth or adolescent or young adult etc., you can just search on one term.

Q: I’m interested in seeing a list of recent acquisitions at AU Library. Where can I find this information?

A: Every month we put a list of our recently catalogued items on our website. To access it, go to our library catalogue
(see: and click on New Materials.