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This guide will describe what a memoir is, and it will give information about a variety of memoirs available in the Kirkwoood Library collection.

What is a memoir?

According to the Oxford English Reference Dictionary, a memoir is:

  1.  a historical account or biography written from personal knowledge or special sources
  2.  an autobiography or a written account of one's memory of certain events or people


Memoirs differ from autobiography and biography in a couple of ways. 


Autobiographies are personal accounts of one's own life.  Autobiographies normally cover the author's entire life up to the current time and are generally expected to be factual. Memoirs normally cover a certain time, aspect, or event in the author's life and sometimes details, timelines or some events may be altered in the telling of the memoir.

Biographies are written accounts of a person's life - written by another person.  Like autobiographies, biographies are expected to be factual and also typically cover the entire life span of the subject.

How do I find memoirs in the Kirkwood Library?

The Kirkwood library has numerous memoirs available for checkout. There should be something for everyone!  This guide details a number of memoirs in various categories. There are many ways to categorize memoirs. We've chosen categories that work with what our students have asked for in the past. Other sources will use other categories.

Be open-minded when looking through the lists. Memoirs can fit into more than one of our categories, so something you might expect to find in one, may show up in another.  For example, a celebrity writes about a struggle they've had with cancer. That might show up under Celebrity or under Physical Health.


To get started, see the categories to the left.   If you can't find something there, we have a couple other options for you. 


Search the Catalog

You can always search our catalog for more memoirs. Are you looking for a specific person? a specific type of memoir?  Start your search of the library catalog at the library homepage  You can search by keyword, subject, author, or title.  Adding keywords to the search such as memoir, autobiography, autobiographies, biography, biographies, or personal narratives will get you close to what you are looking for.  Keep in mind that autobiographies and biographies are NOT the same as a memoir (see the definitions above) but sometimes memoirs are entered in the catalog with those subject headings.


Look Through a List

If you are unsure of what memoir you want to read, you can check out this memoir list  It is an alphabetical list of titles with links into the catalog. Click on a title to see more information about that book. 


Once you find a memoir you would like to read, make note of the Availability, the location, and the call number. If the book is Available, you can come to the library, locate it on the shelf, and check it out.  You can also Place a Hold on the book - look for the blue Place Hold button -  and we will pull it from the shelf for you. If you take classes at a Regional Center we can send the book there for you to pick up.  


In this example, the highlighted portion shows that it is Available, in the Main Library Circulating Collection and 798.4 P958r is the call number - the number that we shelve the book by.  It could also show you that the book is checked out or that it is at another library. 




Cedar Rapids Campus Library

Benton Hall

6301 Kirkwood Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids, IA


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