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Library Congress Subject Headings

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  1. 1. Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) Maura Walsh Adeleine Whitman Jessica Wilson Tania Wisotzke Erin Wolfe
  2. 2. Library of Congress (LC) <ul><li>De facto National Library </li></ul><ul><li>Began as Legislative Library in 1800 </li></ul><ul><li>Collections totaling more than 100 million items </li></ul><ul><li>Librarian of Congress appointed by President (now James H. Billington) </li></ul><ul><li>Serves as: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>research library for Congress </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>US copyright center </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Library for all three branches of government </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Largest public library </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Materials in over 450 languages </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. LC Jefferson Building
  4. 4. History of LCSH Timeline <ul><li>1897 – LC moves to new Thomas Jefferson Building </li></ul><ul><li>1898 – LC introduces dictionary catalog; first subject headings from ALA list </li></ul><ul><li>1902 – LC begins Card Distribution Service </li></ul>
  5. 5. LCSH Timeline <ul><li>1909 to 1914 – LC publishes Subject Headings Used in the Dictionary Catalogues of the Library of Congress </li></ul><ul><li>1975 – 8 th edition (2 volumes) published under title Library of Congress Headings </li></ul>
  6. 6. LCSH Timeline <ul><li>1992 – Subject Authority Control Program (SACO) established </li></ul><ul><li>1998 – LCSH ’s 100 th Anniversary </li></ul><ul><li>2007 – 30 th edition of LCSH published; 5 volumes contain over 280,000 subject headings </li></ul>
  7. 7. LCSH - The Big Red Books
  8. 8. What is the LCSH? <ul><li>Controlled vocabulary </li></ul><ul><ul><li>access points to bibliographic records </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>standardized records for libraries and databases </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the most widely used subject access system in the world </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. What is the LCSH? (cont) <ul><li>A tool to facilitate finding similar items </li></ul><ul><li>Concise, precise, and specific </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Answers the question: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“What is this item about?” </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. A stairway in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building
  11. 11. Who and Why? <ul><li>Libraries </li></ul><ul><ul><li>standardization </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Catalogers and Indexers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Categorization of materials </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Researchers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>all materials on a topic (BT, NT, UF) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Patrons </li></ul><ul><ul><li>way to search (cross-referencing) </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. LCSH Construction <ul><li>Provides three relational directions between terms (thesaurus format): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Equivalence (USE/UF) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hierarchical (BT, NT) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Associative (RT, SA) </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. LCSH Construction (cont) <ul><li>Main heading </li></ul><ul><ul><li>topical </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>form or genre </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>names </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>personal, corporate, geographic </li></ul></ul></ul>
  14. 14. LCSH Construction (cont) <ul><li>Subdivisions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>topical </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>form or document type </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>chronological </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>geographical </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. LCSH Construction (cont) <ul><li>Free-floating subdivisions </li></ul><ul><li>Pattern headings </li></ul>
  16. 16. LCSH Construction (cont) <ul><li>Syntax and form can vary greatly </li></ul><ul><li>Highly ordered and precise, but... </li></ul><ul><ul><li>User vs. consistency principles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stability principle </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Inside the Library
  18. 18. Issues <ul><li>Difficult to locate information </li></ul><ul><li>No natural-language searches </li></ul><ul><li>No browsing </li></ul><ul><li>Slow to add/change headings </li></ul><ul><li>Adaptability/Flexibility </li></ul><ul><li>Bias reflected in headings </li></ul>
  19. 19. LCSH Bias <ul><li>Cutter's Rules </li></ul><ul><li>Literary Warrant </li></ul><ul><li>National and international reinforcement of U.S. Status quo </li></ul><ul><li>Gender/Culture/… </li></ul>
  20. 20. Library of Congress Reading Room
  21. 21. LCSH as Thesaurus <ul><li>Definition of thesaurus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a list of words or group of words that can be used as subject headings or descriptors in a particular database, catalog, or index. … </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Controversy over hierarchy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>… </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. LCSH across languages
  23. 23. LCSH Across Languages <ul><li>LCSH becoming internationalized </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Positive implications </li></ul></ul><ul><li>-global access </li></ul><ul><li>-multilingual access </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Negative implications </li></ul></ul><ul><li>-English centric </li></ul><ul><li>-Underrepresentation </li></ul><ul><li>-SHs lacking equivilancy </li></ul>
  24. 24. LCSH in Online Catalogs Progress Adeleine, can you fill this in?
  25. 25. Future of LCSH? <ul><li>Possibilities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Social collaboration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tagging/folksonomies (PennTags) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Combination LCSH </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wiki use in libraries (Ohio U. library) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Natural language processing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ontologies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Faceted Navigation </li></ul></ul>