Finding Books in the Library Catalog

The main search box on the Library home page will retrieve material from several different sources: the CU Library catalog, article databases, and library web sites. Clicking on the links below the search box (Catalog, etc.) will limit your searches to that particular source.


The Cornell Library Catalog includes the holdings of all Ithaca campus libraries. The catalog contains records for books, computer files, government documents, manuscripts and archives, maps, musical scores, periodicals, serials, sound recordings, and visual materials.

The "All Fields" search will retrieve matches for your search terms wherever they appear in the description of an item, but you may use the pulldown menu to the right of the search box to limit to title, author, subject, publisher, or call number.


The Cornell University Library uses Library of Congress Subject Headings as the standard for subject searching.  Limit your search to Subject to retrieve items that contain your terms as part of their LC heading:

If you find one book relevant to your subject, you can identify others by clicking on the subject heading in the record for that book:



Clicking on the last facet of the subject heading  will retrieve additional books about the philosophy of place.

American Guide Series

The American Guide Series was a series of illustrated books published through the Federal Writers' Project (FWP), a public works program of the Great Depression that employed writers to detail the local stories, history, and character of the states and numerous cities and locales across the U.S.  Most titles were originally published between 1937 and 1941, but some have been revised in the years since. To find them in the library catalog, do the following:

1. Go to the Library Catalog's Advanced Search
2. Enter american guide series in the first search box as a phrase
3. In the second search box, enter the name of a state, limited to the subject field

Many of these are located at the Library Annex, but you may request delivery any campus library.

Using Subject Headings for Local History

Library Catalog Search Tips

Using Library of Congress (LC) Subject Headings in the library catalog to find books about a given topic can be productive. 

Search the Library Catalog to locate published county and town histories will also reveal maps, statistical sources and other material on a particular place, Use the pull-down menu to select [subject]. See the examples, below:

City and state combinations:

  • scranton pa
  • portland me

For states with 2-word names, insert a space in the state abbreviation:

  • kings county n y
  • new york n y
  • berlin n h

For areas within New York City, the form of the heading is, for example,

  • brooklyn new york n y,

Some headings use "old style" state abbreviations rather than the two-letter postal abbreviations, e.g,:

  • tucson ariz
  • birmingham ala
  • boulder colo

See the list of state abbreviations

Many old local histories are also available online via Google Books