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Using the Library’s Catalogs
CATNYP is the online catalog of The New York Public Library's four Research Libraries. It is easily accessible via the World Wide Web at http://catnyp.nypl.org. For general instructions on using CATNYP, please consult Using the Library's Online Catalog. The following information is specific to the subject of Biography.
Biographies of individuals can be found by performing a subject search on the individual's name. When doing a subject search on a person, remember to enter the last name first:
To search for biographical material about groups of people, there are two approaches. A subject search will yield more precise results, but only if the researcher knows the appropriate Library of Congress subject headings for his or her topic; a list of these subject headings is available at www.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/lcco. Upon determining the appropriate subject heading, the researcher then adds the word biography:
If the appropriate Library of Congress subject heading is not known, it will be easier to perform a word search. A word search will generally retrieve more items, though many of them may not be relevant. When performing a word search, be sure to use the word "and" between each term:
After retrieving the results in a word search, scan the record of one of the items. The subject headings for that item will be listed, and a subject search can then be performed, if desired. For example, the search above for "clergy and biography" retrieves 2107 items. Scanning the item records reveals such helpful subject headings as "women clergy – biography" and "clergy – Ireland – biography." The researcher can then click any of these hypertext links to perform a quick subject search, and locate similar items.
Some additional useful subject headings for biographical research include:
When visiting the Library, the researcher may wish to search the Dictionary Catalog, most of whose entries now appear in CATNYP. In this catalog, books about a person normally follow the listing of books written by that individual. In order to locate an individual biography in the Dictionary Catalog, search under the individual's surname:
Other biographical sources are listed in the Dictionary Catalog; for these, check the subject entry for the appropriate geographical location, vocation, or institution followed by the term biography:
Boston, Mass. - Biography
If a search in the catalogs does not locate a biographical entry for a given individual, a librarian in Room 315 may be able to recommend other appropriate tools for biographical research. Those outside the Library may also e-mail for assistance at email@example.com.