How to find city and regional planning documents in the Library collections

How to find city and regional planning documents in the Library collections

Our collections hold thousands of planning documents come from cities, regions, and states across the country and other parts of the world.  Though we have a lot we do not have all the planning documents of a city, region, or state, and we have planning documents for all decades from 1910s thru 2000s.  These planning documents are important as historic artifact, and are useful to see how an area’s development has evolved over the years.  The plans may inspire new thinking, or may be worth replicating.

Most planning documents in the University Library’s collections have a record in its Library Catalog that provides details about the item and says where it is located.  Subject headings are assigned to most items.  They are a useful resource for search strategies, and are essential for strategies to find planning documents that you do not know the title.  Of course, if you know the planning documents title or some main words of the title, a basic title search will work.  But if you have little more than a city, region, or state name and time period, you will find the Subject headings indispensable.

There are a few nuances to finding these items, so here is some background information to give you grounding for your journey:

The catalog record rules have changed at times over the years.  So you will find variations on how the subject and other fields are configured and displayed depending on what rules were being used at the time the record was created.

City and regional plans are at various locations on campus or online – Main Library stacks, various departmental libraries’ stacks, Oak Street storage, and online resources. This is noted on the item’s  catalog record.  Most of the physical copies are able to be checked out by campus faculty, students, or staff.

Note:  There are a few planning documents that are part of the City Planning and Landscape Architecture Special Collections. These collections presently do not have records in the Library Catalog, but they do have their own searchable BibLeaves database where they can be identified and located.  See CPLA Special Collections for more information and access to the CPLA BibLeaves database.

The contents of these special collections cannot be checked out, but arrangements can be made with the liaison librarian to the Department of Urban & Regional Planning to view. Information is included on the CPLA Special Collection’s page on how to go about making this arrangement.  In some cases, content identified by interested persons off campus may be available via Interlibrary loan methods. The Liaison librarian, in tandem with our campus Interlibrary Loan Unit, can assist with the determination of possibility and if possible how to go about this with the requester’s Interlibrary Loan resource.

Ways to get HELP!

Searching for planning documents in the Library Catalog with Subject headings

You must include the word “planning”, and also the city or region, for Subject searches. Including state is helpful but not always necessary for the search, though it will be on the record to differentiate the city’s location.  If you don’t include this information, you will pick up monographs that are not necessarily planning documents as well as serials.

Note – There have been various preferred postal abbreviations for states and territories over the years, the latest one being established in 1963.  For instance California’s abbreviation has been  1874 Cal.   1943 Calif.  1963 CA.  Find these U.S. Postal Service state abbreviations at https://about.usps.com/who-we-are/postal-history/state-abbreviations.htm.  The catalog record will have the version in force at the time the record was created and thus what would be used as a search term.

Search examples

  • When searching for planning documents in the Library Catalog, use the Advanced search mode.  The link to the Advanced search page is to the right of the search of the Find button that is right of the search and field boxes.

 

  • The Advanced search allows you access to multiple search boxes. You can add more as needed.  For finding planning documents, change all the field boxes from All fields to Subject.  Then put ‘city planning’ in the 1st search box with field changed to Subject, and put the city in the 2nd search box with field changed to Subject.  For this example we use the city ‘Albany GA’ in the second search box with field changed to Subject.  Select the 4th record.

Note the Subject headings and their format. Notice here that the state – Georgia – is abbreviated upper case G with lower case a, then ‘period’ as per the preferred abbreviation for the year 1942. Also, the ‘city’ is a main Subject heading, not a sub-Subject heading. Found in Main Library Stacks.

 

  • Put ‘city planning’ in the 1st search box with field changed to Subject, and put the city in the 2nd search box with field changed to Subject.  Select the 1st record.  “City planning’ is the main Subject heading with ‘Illinois’ and ‘Arlington Heights’ as sub-Subject headings. Found in Main Library Stacks.

 

 

  • Put ‘city planning’ in the 1st search box with field changed to Subject, and put the city ‘Palo Alto’ in the 2nd search box with field changed to Subject.  Select the 4th record. “City planning’ is the main Subject heading with ‘California’ and ‘Palo Alto’ as sub-Subject headings. Found at Oak Street.

 

 

  • Put ‘cities and towns’ in the 1st search box with field changed to Subject, and put the city ‘Abingdon’ in the 2nd search box with field changed to Subject.  Select the 1st record. ‘Cities and towns’ is the main Subject heading with ‘Abingdon’ as sub-Subject heading. Found at Oak Street. Select the 1st record.  Location ‘Online’.  Note ‘Ill.’ Used for state as it is the preferred abbreviation for the year 1958.

 

 

  • Put ‘city planning’ in the 1st search box with field changed to Subject, and put the city ‘Addison’ in the 2nd search box with field changed to Subject.  Select the 4th record.  “City planning’ is the main Subject heading with ‘Illinois’ as sub-Subject headings.  ‘Addison’ as 2nd main Subject heading with ‘City planning’ as sub-Subject heading (rather than revers).  Note ‘Ill.’ used for state as it is the preferred abbreviation for the year 1960.   Location ‘Online’.

 

 

  • Here is a ‘regional’ planning document example.   Put ‘regional planning’ in the 1st search box with field changed to Subject, put the state in the 2nd search box with field changed to Subject, and the county in the 3rd search box with field changed to Subject. Use ‘Illinois’ for state and ‘Champaign’ for county.  Select the 10th record.  “Regional planning’ is the main Subject heading with ‘Illinois’ and ‘Champaign’ as sub-Subject headings.  Location Main Library Stacks.

 

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