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Report on Workshop: Assigning Library of Congress Subject Headings

Posted By TSRT Communication and Web Coordinator, Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Updated: Tuesday, June 16, 2015
[Guest writer: unidentified]

I attended Charity Martin's workshop on Assigning Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) on January 9 at the Nebraska Library Commission. It was a very good, informative experience. I had the good fortune of attending at the same time as Mary Tilley from UNL, who is so incredibly knowledgeable that it was like having two teachers.

In addition to covering the basic differences between topical, geographic, title, personal name, corporate name, and conference name subject headings, along with all the various types of subfields, we got a lot of practical, hands-on experience. Throughout the morning, we did a series of mini-exercises, where we had to find the correct form for one of each of the types of subject headings, using subjects of our own choosing. In the afternoon, we were each given a book from a collection of diverse topics and asked to do a subject analysis of the book. Then we shared our completed subject headings with everyone else in turn, so we could see the ways each person approached their book. I thought it was interesting to learn about "technical reading," the art of examining a title page, contents, reviews, and other matter to determine the subject content of a book without having to actually read the whole book.

The only depressing thing is the rule with geographic subject headings that requires the latest name of a jurisdiction to be used in subdivisions. This leads to headings like World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Russia (Federation), which is legitimate and correct according to the rules, even though Russia (Federation) is a post-1991 political entity. World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Soviet Union would make more historical sense. But that's hardly Charity's fault. We can blame the Library of Congress for that sort of thing. However, we'll follow the standards--even when they seem weird--because of the need for metadata interoperability.

Charity's class was a great introduction to one of the more complex aspects of cataloging, and she provided us with the tools to continue learning on our own. And it counts toward the Nebraska Library Commission Cataloging Certificate Program. All in all, time well spent.

Tags:  cataloging  certificate program  conference & meeting reports  lcsh  training 

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