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Library Research E-Textbook - Instructor Version: Lateral Searching

View Tutorials on Lateral Research

Watch the following videos. While you're watching, take notes about what lateral searching means and how to do it. You'll need these notes later. Keep in mind that these videos were created by the library at Boise State; however, the concepts are still the same.


Advanced Techniques in Google

Google offers a short tip sheet on how to perform effective web searching by via special characters or delimiters. Here's a quick breakdown from the Google tip sheet:

Phrase search ("") - search Google using exact words in that exact order
Search within a specific website (site:) - specify search results to come from a given website
Terms you want to exclude (-) - a minus sign immediately before a word indicates that you do not want pages that contain this word to appear in your results
Fill in the blanks (*) - treat the star as a placeholder for any unknown term
Search exactly as is (+) - A + symbol immediately before a word (remember, don't add a space after the +), you are telling Google to match that word precisely as you typed it.
The OR operator - allow either one of several words to be used in a search

To get the most out of Google, try using the Advanced Search feature as shown in this tutorial:

Citation Searching

Print and read the attached handout, which describes a very important lateral searching technique called citation searching. This is a way to use one good source to find many others.

Library of Congress Classification

SUNY Canton's Southworth Library Learning Commons utilizes the Library of Congress Classification system to organize books and other resources.  

The OpenSUNY Information Literacy User's Guide (53-54) provides a great explanation of the LCC system:

  "The Library of Congress classification system divides a library's collection into 21 classes or categories.  A specific letter of the alphabet is assigned to each class.  More detailed divisions are accomplished with two or three letter combinations.  Book shelves in most academic libraries are marked with a Library of Congress letter-number combination to correspond to the Library of Congress letter-number combination in the spines of library materials.  This is often referred to as a call number and it is noted in the catalog record of every physical item on the library shelves."

You should use the LCC system during your lateral search.  Simply select a book that is on topic for your research assignment and follow the call number to its location in the stacks.  Check out the books on either side and on the shelves above and below.  These books should all have similar content and may be additional resources that are perfect for usage in your research assignments.


Library of Congress Classification

A  General Works -- includes encyclopedias, almanacs, indexes

B-BJ  Philosophy, Psychology

BL-BX  Religion

C  History -- includes archaeology, genealogy, biography

D  History -- general and eastern hemisphere

E-F  History -- America (western hemisphere)

G  Geography, Maps, Anthropology, Recreation

H  Social Science

J  Political Science

K  Law (general)

KD  Law of the United Kingdom and Ireland

KE  Law of Canada

KF  Law of the United States

L  Education

M  Music

N  Fine Arts -- includes architecture, sculpture, painting, drawing

P-PA  General Philosophy and Linguistics, Classical Languages, and Literature

PB-PH  Modern European Languages

PG  Russian Literature

PJ-PM  Languages and Literature of Asia, Africa, Oceania, American Indian Langauges, Artificial Languages

PN-PZ  General Literature, English and American Literature, Fiction in English, Juvenile Literature

PQ  French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese Literature

PT  German, Dutch, and Scandinavian Literature

Q  Science -- includes physical and biological sciences, math, computers

R  Medicine -- includes health and human sexuality

S  Agriculture

T  Technology -- includes engineering, auto mechanics, photography, home economics

U  Military Science

V  Naval Science

Z  Bibliography, Library Science, Citations

Activity Option 1: Freewriting

Write a paragraph discussing how you might use the research you've already done to find more resources on your topic. What specific strategies from the videos might be helpful? Which will you try first?

Please consider sharing your students' work with Rachel Santose ( for assessment purposes.

Activity Option 2: Finding citations

Print and complete the following assignment.

Please consider sharing your students' work with Rachel Santose ( for assessment purposes.