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Library Resources for Asian American Studies 199 Buddhism in Asian America


Mary Stuart
History, Philosophy and Newspaper Librarian


I. Searching the UIUC online catalog for books, films, magazines, and journals

Use the online catalog to do a subject search for books or to find out where a particular book or journal is located in the Library

Books and journals are organized in the library by subject. Each item is assigned one or more subject headings and a unique call number. Subject headings are standardized terms from the Library of Congress. The call number is based on the Dewey Decimal Classification.

Why bother with subject headings in the online catalog when you can do keyword searching?

It’s true that you can find sources on a topic by doing keyword searches. But if you limit yourself to keyword searching, you are likely to miss important material on your topic that uses other terms. If you only need two or three books, you can probably find what you need by doing keyword searches, but if you are doing historical research, you can’t afford to miss critical material on your topic. For a comprehensive subject search, search with subject headings as well as keywords.

A good way to identify subject headings for a topic is to do a keyword search in the online catalog using terms you think describe the topic and try to identify a few relevant books. Look at the full record for those books to see what subject headings were used, then do another search on those headings. (See examples below.)

As a rule of thumb, use fairly broad headings, as well as the specific ones that describe your topic, in order to make sure you haven’t inadvertently eliminated relevant material that is contained within works of larger scope. Most likely you will find multiple headings to describe your topic, and you should use all of them. You can narrow your search in the online catalog by combining subject headings (as a phrase) with keywords, using the “Advanced Search” option.

Here are some examples of subject headings relating to Asian Americans and Buddhism:

  • Southeast Asian Americans-United States-Religious life
  • Buddhism-Social aspects
  • Buddhism-United States
  • Korean Americans-United States
  • Japanese Americans-Ethnic identity
  • Asian Americans
  • Asian Americans-Social conditions
  • Asian Americans-Race identity
  • Asian Americans-Religion
  • Asian Americans-Ethnic identity
  • Orientalism-United States

Searching with subject headings does have its limitations. Not only are the subject headings highly stylized and idiosyncratic, the system (Library of Congress subject headings, or LCSH) is not particularly responsive to new scholarly trends. The entire field of inquiry known as the history of daily life is not captured with any precision by LCSH ([Country name]-Social life and customs is about as close as you can get).

To search the online catalog, go to the Library Gateway (http://www.library.uiuc.edu) and click on “UIUC Library Online Catalog.”

The online catalog offers both “Quick Search” and “Advanced Search” options. Use “Advanced Search” to identify subject headings on your topic, to combine subject headings (or elements from subject headings) in a Boolean search, or to combine keywords from any part of the record with subject headings to narrow your search.

Do an Advanced Search on the keyword term “Asian Americans” with the keyword “identity” to find books on this topic. Then look at the subject headings for your results (e.g., Asian Americans-History) and do a Quick Search on the best headings to find more books.

Or an Advanced Search combining on the terms “orientalism” and “Asian Americans,” check out the subject headings in your results, and do a Quick Search on those subject headings to find more books on the topic.

Do an Advanced Search when you know part of the title (e.g., American Buddhism, but are not certain of the exact title. Use the drop-down menu on the right and select “Title Words.”

If you have the title of an essay published in a collection, but do not have the title of the collection itself or the name of the editor(s), try searching words from the title of the essay in Advanced Search, specifying the “notes” field (e.g., “Asian American youth cultures” with Note Words selected from the drop-down menu).

Use “Quick Search” to browse a known subject heading, to search a title when you know exactly how it begins (e.g., Asian Americans and the Mass Media), to locate a work or works by a particular author (e.g., David Yoo), or to search by call number for a specific book (e.g., 220.8995073 As421).

Borrowing from other libraries

If you are looking for a book that is not in the UIUC Library online catalog, try searching the state-wide consortium of academic and research libraries, I-Share. The link to I-Share can be found on the blue bar across the top of the “Quick Search” and “Advanced Search” pages in the online catalog. You can borrow directly from any of the sixty-five I-Share member libraries. If you cannot find the book you are looking for in I-Share, you should search it in WorldCat to see if it is available outside the state of Illinois. From the Library Gateway (http://www.library.uiuc.edu/index.html), click on “Other Library Catalogs” and scroll down to the listing for WorldCat. This is a “union catalog” of thousands of mostly North American libraries that share cataloging and holdings records for the books in their collections. If you find a book in WorldCat that we do not have at UIUC or at the other I-Share libraries, you can place a request for the book through interlibrary borrowing (http://www.library.uiuc.edu/irrc/).

II. Finding Articles in Scholarly Journals and Popular Magazines

America: History and Life is the best starting place to search for scholarly articles on the history of Asian American Buddhists. This database provides indexing and abstracting for articles, book reviews, and dissertations published since 1964, and in some cases it provides links to the full text of the articles online. To search America: History and Life, start at the Library Gateway (http://www.library.uiuc.edu) and type “America History and Life” in the search box (making sure that the active tab is either “All Resources” or “Article Indexes and Abstracts”).

Use the Subject Browser to select your subject term(s) by clicking on the open book icon to the right of the search box. You can narrow your search by adding a keyword or using more than one subject term. For example, select “Asian Americans” as a subject term using the Subject Browser, then narrow your search with the keyword “religion.” Your search results display as short records, which you can expand by clicking on “Expand Record” at the bottom of the record on the right.. The full entry shows you an abstract or summary of the article. Click on the blue Discover icon to find out if the full text of the article is available online. If it is not, you will need to search the title of the journal (not the title of the article) in the UIUC online catalog to ascertain where the journal is located in the Library.

There are several multidisciplinary and specialized article databases that might be useful to you, depending on your topic. These include:

  • Expanded Academic ASAP (1980- )
  • EBSCO Academic Search Premier (1975- for some titles)
  • Lexis/Nexis Academic Universe (1980- for some titles)
  • ATLA (American Theological Library Association) Religion Database (1949- )
  • FIAF International Film Archive Database (1972- )
  • Sociological Abstracts (1963- )

There are several major collections of full-text electronic journals you can search directly. For older journals, use JSTOR (“journal storage”). This is a digitized, fully searchable version of the full content of nearly 200 scholarly journals from their inception (sometimes as early as the 18th century) to the 1990s (recent issues excluded). To get to JSTOR, go to the “Quick Links” on the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library web site, or go to the Library Gateway at http://www.library.uiuc.edu/ and choose JSTOR under “Article Indexes and Abstracts.” Several major historical journals are included in JSTOR, such as Journal of American History, Journal of Modern History, and Journal of Interdisciplinary History.

Because JSTOR is a collection of digitized texts rather than an abstracting/indexing service (and does not employ subject descriptors), careful selection of search terms and fields is essential. In the absence of subject headings, subject searches are built on keywords, so it is prudent to try several different approaches for any given topic. Note that only about 10% of the articles in JSTOR have abstracts, so limiting your search term to the abstracts might cause you to miss relevant material. When a Boolean keyword search produces a large set of results, try using the proximity (“near”) operator to limit the results to a combination of terms occuring within 10 or 25 words of one another.

For the full text of many (nearly 200) recent scholarly journals, use Project Muse. These too are fully searchable. In most cases, only the issues from the last few years are available. Here you will find American Quarterly, History and Memory, Journal of the History of Sexuality, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Radical History Review, Journal of Women’s History, Ethnohistory, and several other titles of interest. To get to Project Muse, go to the “Quick Links” on the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library web site, or go to the Library Gateway at http://www.library.uiuc.edu/orr/ and type Project Muse in the search box.

The full text of recent issues of twenty scholarly journals in history is available through the History Cooperative, a joint project of the University of Illinois Press, National Academy Press, American Historical Association, and the Organization of American Historians. This includes the Journal of American History and American Historical Review, Law and History Review, Oral History Review, Journal of Social History, Common-place, Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, Labour History, and Labour/Le Travail). To get to the History Cooperative, go to the “Quick Links” on the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library web site, or go to the Library Gateway, click on “Online Research Resources,” and type “History Cooperative” in the search box.

III. Finding Newspaper Articles

Finding Newspapers in the Library:

The UIUC Library has an extensive collection of newspapers, both current and retrospective, in a variety of formats, including hard copy, microfilm, and digital reproductions. Not all of them are included in the online catalog, but if you are looking for a particular newspaper title, try searching it first in the online catalog. Look for more than one record for each newspaper, as our holdings may consist of a combination of hard copy and microfilm, for example, and there may be a separate catalog record for each format. Most of these will be located in the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library, but in some cases, the material will be found in another part of the UIUC Library.

Some newspapers that are not represented in the online catalog may be included in the Library’s separate online database of newspapers (http://www.library.uiuc.edu/nex/newsform.php). This database is searchable by place of publication and by keywords from the title.

Newspapers Online

We have access to the full text of the New York Times online from 1857 to the present, the Wall Street Journal from 1889 to 1985, and the Chicago Tribune from 1849 to the present (still in production, 1849-1879 not yet available). These are digital facsimiles of the originals and are keyword searchable. From the Online Research Resources page (http://www.library.uiuc.edu/orr/), type the title of the newspaper in the search box.

Many newspapers are embedded in larger collections of online resources, such as Ethnic NewsWatch (1990- ), EBSCO Host Newspaper Source (1997- ), Newsbank (1992- ), or Lexis/Nexis Academic Universe (1980- for some titles). These are available from the Library Gateway under “Online Research Resources” (http://www.library.uiuc.edu/orr/).

Finding articles in newspapers:

For newspapers that have not been digitized, article-level indexing is limited, particularly before the 1970s. The digital versions of the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Wall Street Journal, are fully searchable, so you don’t need a separate index to use them.

For recent newspapers, online abstracting and indexing for some major and regional papers is available through Lexis-Nexis, Newsbank, and EBSCO Host (http://www.library.uiuc.edu/orr/, “Journals & Newspapers”). In some cases the indexing goes back to the early 1980s, but in most cases, it starts in the 1990s or later.

There is a print index of feature articles from the Daily Illini for the period 1961-1978, the Daily Illini Spectrum Index. This is a rudimentary subject index and a chronological listing. There are copies in the Newspaper Library

© 2006 Mary Stuart