How to Use
BibSite is an open access platform for discovering and sharing bibliographical research and pedagogical materials in a way that is useful to other scholars, teachers, researchers, and students of bibliography in the broadest sense of the term.
Watch our How to Search in BibSite tutorial on YouTube.
To discover resources related to your interests, use the main search bar on the Bibsite home page to search for subject keywords such as “wood-engraving”, “descriptive bibliography,” “Ruggles, David,” “lesson plan,” time periods, or geographic areas. You can narrow your results by using the filters on the results page. You can also use the Search page to set filters before your search; visit “Search” page from the top bar menu on the BibSite homepage. Filter by coverage date(s) or categories including the resource’s language and RBMS controlled vocabulary terms.
Keyword Search: Boolean Operators
We recommend starting with a keyword search. If you search for multiple terms, the system will return results that contain all of those words.
Boolean operators are usable for more refined results. To search for for a phrase (e.g., “bibliographical description”) enclose those words in quotation marks. You can also use the terms OR to return records that include at least one of the words entered into the search field.
The Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the ALA edits a linked data controlled vocabulary of terms for rare books, comprising genres, bindings, paper, printing and publishing evidence, provenance, and type. To read introductions for each set of terms that covers their scope and application, refer to the older RBMS webpage for controlled vocabularies.
Overall, RBMS terms are helpful but do not cover every bibliographical that might be useful to folks using BibSite. This is part of the reason why BibSite uses tags and emphasizes keyword searching.
BibSite arranges its library into “pedagogical” and “research” resources. Resources intended for teaching at any level are labeled pedagogical, and items intended to aid in research are labeled as such. We understand some items could be used for both purposes and we place those items in both categories.
The boundary between research and pedagogy is not clearly delineated and if you feel an item should also be placed in the other category, please reach out to us.
Searching by Date
You might notice that resources in Bibsite have multiple dates and/or date ranges represented in the records. These dates are also searchable. For clarity, here is a quick summary of the different types of dates you will see and can search by:
- The “date of publication” is the date the resource was created or authored. If you are looking for a resource published at a particular time, enter the year in the keyword search field.
- The “date coverage” is the date the resource is referring to. If you are looking for a resource relevant to a specific date or date range, enter a single date or date range into filter the box(es).
- The “date modified” is the date in which the document was updated after original publication. Most users probably won’t need to search by modification date.
Geography: It’s Complex
The best way to narrow down resources by geographic location is to search for the location by keyword. A keyword search will look through all of the descriptive metadata that describes a resource, rather than a singular geographic coverage field. This approach offers more flexibility and acknowledges the complexity of geography, especially with respect to Indigenous place names, linguistic variations, and commonly used names that are not officially recognized.
BibSite editors work to add relevant geographic names in the metadata for each object, but be aware that the metadata does not always include overlapping entities, i.e. searching for a city does not necessarily bring up the encompassing state, region, or country, and vice versa. For this reason, try searching for a range of geographic terms. For example, when looking for British imprints, include terms like “London,” “England,” and “United Kingdom” as needed.
Library of Congress Subjects & Tags
BibSite has used Library of Congress Subject and Name Authorities as part of resources’ metadata for accessibility because we recognize that these vocabularies are a standard for library cataloging. We also recognize that categorization is not a neutral act, and therefore do not prioritize these terms as search values. Use the keyword search box to look for materials by LC subject and name headings.
BibSite also uses tags generated by contributors and editors, which supplement the terms from controlled vocabularies to account for complexities of geography, culture, and language, as noted above with geographic place names. These terms are also searchable through the main keyword search bar.