Search Help

Table of contents  

Browser functions

Canadian Subject Headings (CSH) on the Web relies on the functions available in your Web browser. The display (font and arrangement) is for the most part based on the browser you use and the settings you selected. In addition, it is assumed that you know the basic functions available in the browser to move around within the site. For instance, you should know how to use the navigation buttons and menus of the browser, such as Back, Forward, and Go to move quickly to a page already displayed and temporarily saved, or stored bookmarks or favorites to move to another part of the site or to another Web resource. You should also know how to use your browser's scroll bars, and how to modify the default font size of the display to change the amount of information appearing in the browser window. 

Searching CSH

Within this part of CSH on the Web, you can select the language of the textual matter displayed on the screen by way of the English and Français buttons in the toolbar. This language can be changed at any time.
To change the language of the displayed data use the Source of Heading box.

Search form

A form is used to submit searches. Searches are performed against all English language headings, all rejected terms (UF references) and all unused Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) included as equivalents in CSH records. As well, searches are performed against all French language headings from Répertoire de vedettes-matière (RVM) included as equivalents in CSH records. Rejected terms (EP) from the RVM are not included in the CSH database.
To search the database efficiently it is necessary to be familiar with the elements of the search form. Note that for any new Search request initiated, the Source of Heading and Search Type are set by default at CSH and Browse respectively. 
  • Source of heading: The arrow to the right of the selection box allows you to choose between CSH or RVM, i.e. between a search against the English language headings or references in CSH (including equivalent LCSH headings), or against the equivalent French language headings from the RVM. Selecting RVM does not allow a search by a reference from RVM.  
  • Search Type: 
    • Browse: searches for a heading beginning with the term or phrase entered in the Search Term box, and displays the appropriate part of the alphabetical list of headings. The first term matching the search term will normally appear on the second line of the Search Results display. You may scroll upward or downward in the list as far as you wish to find more headings by using the Previous and Next buttons located above the Search Results display.
    • The Browse index is arranged according to a version of Library of Congress Filing Rules. Note that any geographic subdivisions under a heading file in a separate sequence after all the topical and form subdivisions under the same heading. 
    • Exact: displays immediately (without going through the Search Results display) the record for the heading which exactly matches the search term you indicated. This type of search is useful when you know the exact spelling of the heading being searched. If no term matches the search term exactly the result screen will display no records, "Search returned 0 items".
    • Keyword: retrieves all headings containing the term or terms entered in the Search Term box, anywhere in CSH. For example a search on the term songs will retrieve all headings containing the word Songs in any position, e.g. Songs--Canada ; Italian Canadians--Songs and music, etc. 
    • Keyword searching looks for words exactly matching the search term. It does not search for all words containing the same sequence of letters anywhere in the word. For instance, a search on art will find headings such as Art--Canada; Alberta--In art; but not Federal aid to the arts--Canada or Artificial satellites, Canadian. To include these latter headings in a keyword search, end the search term with a truncation operator %. A keyword search on art% will retrieve all the above headings.
    • The truncation operator may also be used at the beginning of a search term. A keyword search on %art will retrieve headings such as Red River cart. A keyword search on %art% will retrieve headings such as Applied arts--Canada and Actors--Canada--Caricatures and cartoons
    • More than one term may be used in a keyword search, in which case the search will retrieve any headings containing all these terms in any order. For example a search on english french will retrieve both Canadian literature (English)--Translations into French and Canadian literature (French)--Translations into English
    • The Keyword search is an efficient way of searching for long headings. For example, instead of using a Browse or Exact search for Indians of North America--Legal status, laws, etc.--Canada type indians legal in the Search Term box and use a Keyword search. To find Alberta--Economic conditions use alb% eco%; to find Canada--History--War of 1812--Battlefields use canada 1812 battle%, and so on. 
  • Search Term: Type the search term or terms into this box. Search results are identical whether the terms are written with or without uppercase letters, or whether diacritics such as acute (´) or circumflex (^) accents are used. Punctuation marks in headings, for example commas and parentheses, are also ignored. Use a double hyphen (--) between terms when trying to locate headings containing subdivisions.

Display of results

Search results are displayed on one or several pages, with a maximum of ten headings on a page. References or equivalent LCSH headings are preceded by an asterisk (*) but accepted English language headings in CSH or French language equivalents are listed without any annotation. To display another Search Results screen, use the Previous or Next buttons in a Browse search or the Page: numbers appearing at the top right of the Search Results display, in a Keyword search. In addition the Back, Forward, and Go functions from the browser allow you to move around already posted pages.
In a Keyword search the search term or expression appears above the result display. The total number of records containing the search term is also shown. When there is only one heading corresponding to the search term, display of results is skipped automatically and the record for the heading is displayed immediately.
In an Exact or Keyword search the message Search returned 0 items appears whenever no heading or reference corresponds exactly to the terms indicated in the search form. This may be because CSH does not contain these terms, or it may be that the terms are spelled differently there. To modify the search criteria used, click on the Back function of your browser to display the already completed search form. To perform a completely new search, click on the Search button below the site banner.

Display of records

Record (Thesaurus Display) is the default record display. The record can also be displayed in MARC format by clicking on MARC display. This record contains all MARC fields and codes for that heading, including extra data excluded from the Thesaurus Display. For instance, it contains field 670 indicating sources consulted by the CSH editors to establish the heading. In addition you can view the control number field for the record, field 016 used by Library and Archives Canada.
The display of the record's network of headings uses a few symbols. These are: UF = Used for; BT = Broader term; RT = Related term; NT = Narrower term; EQ = Equivalent; SA = See also; and USE. Under EQ will be found the equivalent headings from RVM and also from LCSH if the Canadian Subject Heading differs from it.
All headings that form part of the network of headings (BT, RT, NT) or appear in authority notes, carry hypertext links and appear in blue in the Record (Thesaurus Display). The heading being consulted, its equivalents (RVM or LCSH), the rejected terms (UF) and the text of notes are not hyperlinked and appear in black. By clicking on one of the blue headings, one of two things happens. When the blue heading is part of a BT, RT, or NT, this new heading is immediately displayed. If the blue heading is in an authority note, the Search Results screen containing the new heading is displayed, and the record for the heading can then be accessed.
There are no active hyperlinks from the MARC record display.
Subdivisions or multiple headings appearing in a note in a thesaurus display record are also marked in blue (e.g. Canadian literature--Translations into [language]). In fact there are no authority records associated with these terms and clicking on the hyperlink will lead to the place that subdivision or multiple heading would appear in the Search Results display if it had been a valid heading. This is not an error but an unavoidable consequence of the automatic generation of these hyperlinks. 

Link to AMICUS Web

From the thesaurus display record, you can access AMICUS, Library and Archives Canada's authority and bibliographic records database by clicking on View AMICUS which appears next to the English or French heading. The link to AMICUS Web is automatic. As a result, the bibliographic records containing the sought heading are displayed. The search results also indicate the number of documents indexed under that heading.
There is no button or link specially identified to exit AMICUS Web. To return to CSH on the Web, click on the Back function in the browser or use the History list, or use a bookmark or favorite saved for the search form page. 

Consulting the Lists of Subdivisions

The lists of subdivisions used in CSH may be consulted from any screen by clicking on the Subdivisions button below the site banner.
Clicking on either List of Subdivisions - English or List of Subdivisions - French will display the same list but arranged in the alphabetical order of the English or French subdivisions respectively.
These are available as documents in the PDF format.
This portion of the site, in contrast to searching in the CSH database, does not use a search engine or hyperlinks. To locate a particular subdivision you must scroll down through the list to find the required term. The lists also provide the equivalent terms in the other language. An English language subdivision may not have an equivalent in French. In this case a blank space is displayed in the column for French subdivisions. An English language subdivision may also correspond to more than one subdivision in French or vice versa.   

Suggestions for new headings or changes to headings and comments

Suggestions for new headings or changes to headings are welcomed by Library and Archives Canada. No special proposal form is required. Please send suggestions or questions about CSH to:
Mailing address:
Editor, Canadian Subject Headings
Library and Archives Canada
550, boul. de la Cité
Gatineau, QC K1A 0N4
Telephone: 819-953-6810
Fax: 819-934-6777
Date modified: