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Find more Booklist Online Chat Room
Recently, a Booklist Online subscriber e-mailed us to ask about the best ways to look for biographies on the site. A popular and frequently requested genre in public libraries, biographies can be tricky to find because, except for the collective biographies in the Dewey 920s, they are scattered all over the nonfiction section. If you’re a subscriber, Booklist Online can save time by helping you do a customized biography search before you or your patron go off to the shelves. Here’s how.
Advanced Search: Biographies
On the Advanced Search page, select Keyword in Review from the Search On menu, and enter biography in the search box. This is a shortcut to all the reviews in the BOL database that use the word biography in the review text. You’ll get hefty results (in fact, almost 4,000 titles at last count), so you’ll probably want to use other Advanced Search options to narrow your search. For example, if you’re helping a student who needs to find a biography of a scientist, you could go to the Booklist Taxonomy slider menu and select Youth Science. This will net you a very manageable list. By using the Grade Range limiters, you can tailor the list even more.
If you have an adult patron who isn’t set on a particular subject area but wants only the newest biographies, you can narrow your biography Keyword in Review search by selecting Adult Books from the Audience/Format menu, then entering a date range in the Booklist Print Issue or Publication Date boxes. And if you want only the best biographies, you can check the Starred Reviews box or select Booklist Editors’ Choice or other options from the Awards menu.
Spotlight on Biography
Our recurring June 1 & 15 Spotlight on Biography issues are a good source for biographies, especially since they always have top 10 biography lists. To find these, click on the Search Features tab at the top of the Advanced Search page, then enter Keyword in Title: top 10 biographies. (Insider tip: always use 10 instead of ten if you’re looking for top 10 lists.) Another way to search for biography-related features is to enter Keyword in Title: read-alikes and Keyword in Feature: biography. You’ll end up with some Read-alikes you don’t want, but you’ll also get Donna Seaman’s lovely “Entwined Lives,” listing biographies about friends, spouses, and other partners; Brad Hooper’s “Women of the Pen,” about American women writers; and a number of other treasures you might not otherwise have found.
Your Biography List
Once you’ve found the right biographies, don’t forget to save them to a list. If you’re a subscriber, and you haven’t already created your personal My Booklist log-in, be sure to set one up so you can preserve and share the best results of your searches.
If you have any questions about using Booklist Online, or if you’re a subscriber and have any of your own tips to share, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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