Essential Library of Congress Subject Headings

Nov 2011 | 288pp

Price: £59.95
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Essential Library of Congress Subject Headings

Vanda Broughton

Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) are increasingly seen as 'the' English language controlled vocabulary, despite their lack of a theoretical foundation, and their evident US bias. In mapping exercises between national subject heading lists, and in exercises in digital resource organization and management, LCSH are often chosen because of the lack of any other widely accepted English language standard for subject cataloguing. It is therefore important that the basic nature of LCSH, their advantages, and their limitations, are well understood both by LIS practitioners and those in the wider information community.
Information professionals who attended library school before 1995 - and many more recent library school graduates - are unlikely to have had a formal introduction to LCSH. Paraprofessionals who undertake cataloguing are similarly unlikely to have enjoyed an induction to the broad principles of LCSH. This is the first compact guide to LCSH written from a UK viewpoint. 
Key topics include:
  • background and history of LCSH
  • subject heading lists
  • structure and display in LCSH
  • form of entry
  • application of LCSH
  • document analysis
  • main headings
  • topical, geographical and free-floating sub-divisions
  • building compound headings
  • name headings
  • headings for literature, art, music, history and law
  • LCSH in the online environment.  
Readership: There is a strong emphasis throughout on worked examples and practical exercises in the application of the scheme, and a full glossary of terms is supplied. No prior knowledge or experience of subject cataloguing is assumed. This is an indispensable guide to LCSH for practitioners and students alike.

1. Introduction 
  • What is LCSH? 
  • The format of LCSH  
2. History and principles of LCSH
  • Early subject headings
  • Cutter’s Rules 
  • Subject cataloguing and the dictionary catalogue 
  • LCSH in the catalogue 
  • Major characteristics of LCSH
  • The Library of Congress and literary warrant 
  • Bias in LCSH  
3. Subject heading lists and the problems of language
  • Systematic and alphabetic approaches to information 
  • Advantages of alphabetic systems
  • Disadvantages of alphabetic systems 
  • Controlled indexing languages 
  • Standards for document description   
4. Format and display of LCSH 
  • Filing and alphabetization
  • Non-alphabetic characters
  • Punctuation 
  • Typography
  • Notes and references under headings  
5. The choice and form of headings 
  • Where do LCSH headings come from? 
  • Cutter’s Rules and the choice of preferred terms 
  • Vocabulary control in LCSH: selection of terms 
  • Vocabulary control in LCSH: form of terms
  • More complex headings
  • Punctuation of headings   
6. Content analysis
  • The problem of ‘aboutness’; indexer consistency and subjectivity 
  • Where to look for content 
  • Constructing the document description
  • Significant concepts
  • Common categories of term
  • Ordering the subject string  
7. Assigning main headings
  • Content analysis and LCSH 
  • Analytical cataloguing 
  • Finding appropriate headings 
  • Cross-references 
  • Selecting headings 
  • Organizing headings on a record  
8. Structured headings 
  • The nature of structured headings 
  • The format of structured headings 
  • Categories of subdivisions   
9. Topical subdivisions 
  • Presentation of topical subdivisions 
  • Forming the structured heading 
  • Pattern headings  
10. Geographic subdivisions
  • When to use geographic subdivisions 
  • The format of geographically subdivided headings
  • Place authorities and the form of geographic names 
  • Forming the geographic subdivision 
  • Using more than one geographic subdivision 
  • Geographic subdivisions with topical subdivisions
  • Main headings with geographic elements   
11. Free-floating subdivisions 
  • The scope and range of free-floating subdivisions
  • Combining free-floating and geographic subdivisions
  • Persons
  • Common subject subdivisions 
  • More complicated uses of free-floating subdivisions  
12. More complex headings
  • Combining the different types of subdivisions 
  • Geographic subdivisions combined with free-floating subdivisions 
  • Topical subdivisions combined with geographic subdivisions 
  • Topical subdivisions combined with free-floating subdivisions 
  • Combinations of topical, geographic, and free-floating subdivisions   
13. Chronological headings and subdivisions 
  • Free-floating subdivisions for history 
  • Main headings with period aspects   
14. Name headings 
  • What constitutes a name heading?
  • Personal names 
  • Corporate names
  • Geographic names 
  • Named historical events 
  • Named objects and entities   
15. Literature and the arts 
  • Headings for literature
  • Non-literary texts 
  • Headings for art 
  • Headings for performing arts and media 
  • Practical subject cataloguing in the arts   
16. Headings for music 
  • General works about music: period and place
  • Genre, topics and themes
  • Musical forces and works about them
  • Instrumental music
  • Music for particular forms 
  • Vocal music 
  • Works about composers and musicians 
  • Specific works of music 
  • Recordings and printed music for individual works  
17. Classification Web 
  • The composition of Classification Web 
  • Layout and format
  • Getting started
  • Searching and browsing 
  • Other features   
18. LCSH in the online world 
  • The Library of Congress catalogue
  • Accessing the LC catalogue: bibliographic records 
  • Other online versions of LCSH   
19. Bibliography 
  • General books on LCSH
  • Library of Congress publications 
  • Current information on LCSH
  • History and principles of subject heading lists 
  • Bias in LCSH 
  • Classification Web
  • Current developments in LCSH  
20. Glossary

"I would recommend this book to both new cataloguers and lone librarians who find themselves cataloguing with no formal training. I would also recommend it to anyone who feels that they could do with a fresh and fun reminder of the basics of subject headings."
- CILIP Cataloguing and Indexing Group Newsletter

Vanda Broughton MA DipLib is Programme Director for the Diploma/MA in Library and Information Studies at the School of Library, Archive and Information Studies, University College London. She has taught, written and led training courses on classification for many years. She is joint editor of the new edition of the Bliss Bibliographic Classification scheme, is a member of the UDC revision working group, and also of the UK Classification Research Group.

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