- Library of Congress Subject Headings
The "Library of Congress Subject Headings" (LCSH) comprise a
thesaurus(in the information technologysense) of subject headings, maintained by the United States Library of Congress, for use in bibliographic records. LC Subject Headings are an integral part of bibliographic control, which is the function by which libraries collect, organize and disseminate documents. LCSHs are applied to every item within a library’s collection, and facilitate a user’s access to items in the catalogue that pertain to similar subject matter. If users could only locate items by ‘title’ or other descriptive fields, such as ‘author’ or ‘publisher’, they would have to expend an enormous amount of time searching for items of related subject matter, and undoubtedly miss locating many items because of the ineffective and inefficient search capability.
An art and science
Subject heading classification is a human and intellectual endeavor, where trained professionals apply topic descriptions to items in their collections. Naturally, every library may choose to categorize the subject matter of their items differently, without a uniform agreed upon standard. The widespread use and acceptance of the "Library of Congress Subject Headings" facilitates the uniform access and retrieval of items in any library in the world using the same search strategy and LCSH
thesaurus, if the correct headings have been applied to the item by the library. Thusly, LCSH decisions involve a great amount of debate and even controversy in the library community.
Despite LCSH's wide-ranging and comprehensive scope, there are libraries where the use of LCSH is not ideal or effective. To deal with these types of collections and user communities, other subject headings may be required. The United States
National Library of Medicinedeveloped Medical Subject Headings( MeSH) to use on its many health science databases and collection. Many university libraries may apply both LCSH and MeSH headings to items. In Canada, the National Library of Canadaworked with LCSH representatives to create a complementary set of Canadian Subject Headings(CSH) to access and express the topic content of documents on Canadaand Canadian topics.
LCSH policy issues
Historically, issues have revolved around the terms employed to describe racial or
ethnicgroups. Notable has been the terms used to describe African-Americans. Until the 1990s, the LCSH administrators had a strict policy of not changing terms for a subject category. This was enforced to tighten and eliminate the duplication or confusion that might arise if subject headings were changed. Therefore, one term to describe African-American topics in LCSH was ‘Afro-American’ long after that term lost currency and acceptance in the population. LCSH decided to allow some alteration of terms in 1996to better reflect the needs and access of library users. Nevertheless, many common terms, or ‘natural language’ terms are not used in LCSH, and may in effect limit the ability for users to locate items. There is a growing tradition of research in Library and Information Sciencefaculties about the cultural and gender biases that affect the terms used in LCSH, which in turn may limit or deprive library users access to information stored and disseminated in collections. A notable American Library Science scholar on this subject is Sanford Berman.
The Subject Headings are published in large red volumes (currently five), which are typically displayed in the reference sections of research libraries. They may also be searched online in the [http://classificationweb.net/ Library of Congress Classification Web] , a subscription service, or free of charge at [http://authorities.loc.gov/ Library of Congress Authorities] . The Library of Congress issues weekly updates. Once a library user has found the right subject heading they are an excellent resource for finding relevant material in your library catalogue. Increasingly the use of
hyperlinked, web-based Online Public Access Catalogues, or OPACs, allow users to hyperlink to a list of similar items displayed by LCSH once one item of interest is located. However, because LCSH are not necessarily expressed in natural language, many users may choose to search OPACs by keywords. Moreover, users unfamiliar with OPAC searching and LCSH, may incorrectly assume their library has no items on their desired topic, if they chose to search by ‘subject’ field, and the terms they entered do not strictly conform to a LCSH. For example ‘body temperature regulation’ is used in place of ‘thermoregulation’. Thus the easiest way to find and use LCSH is to start with a ‘keyword’ search and then look at the Subject Headings of a relevant item to locate other related material.
Despite their limitations, LCSH are widely used in
library catalogs in North America and around the world. They should not be confused with the Library of Congress Classification, which does not attempt to evaluate the subject content of items, but rather broadly categorizes the item in a subject hierarchy. Many libraries, especially public and school libraries will use the Dewey Decimal Classificationsystem for organizing collections, but will employ LCSH for accessing material by topic.
Library of Congress Classification
* [http://www.loc.gov/catdir/ Library of Congress Cataloging home page]
* [http://www.loc.gov/cds/ Cataloging Distribution Service] - primary source of Library of Congress Subject Headings
* [http://authorities.loc.gov/ Library of Congress Authorities] - allows users to look through the subject headings at no charge
* [http://lcsh.info lcsh.info] - is a
Linked Data, SKOSrepresentation of the subject headings for the semantic web; periodically updated
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Library of Congress Subject Headings — Die Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) bilden einen Thesaurus (im Sinne der Bibliothekswissenschaft) mit Schlagwörtern, der von der Library of Congress in Washington gepflegt wird. Die LC Subject Headings helfen Bibliotheken, Dokumente… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Controversial literature (Library of Congress Subject Headings) — Controversial literature is a subdivision of the Library of Congress Subject Headings, used in the description of religious books. In this context, it has the following narrow use: under names of individual religious and monastic orders,… … Wikipedia
Library of Congress Classification — The Library of Congress Classification (LCC) is a system of library classification developed by the Library of Congress. It is used by most research and academic libraries in the U.S. and several other countries; for example, Australia and… … Wikipedia
Library of Congress — For the 1945 documentary film, see Library of Congress (film). Library of Congress … Wikipedia
Canadian Subject Headings — (CSH) is a list of subject headings in the English language, using controlled vocabulary, to access and express the topic content of documents on Canada and Canadian topics. Library and Archives Canada publishes and maintains CSH on the Web.… … Wikipedia
Subject heading — comprises a thesaurus (in the information technology sense) of subject headings for use in bibliographic records. Subject Headings are an integral part of bibliographic control, which is the function by which libraries collect, organize and… … Wikipedia
library — /luy brer ee, breuh ree, bree/, n., pl. libraries. 1. a place set apart to contain books, periodicals, and other material for reading, viewing, listening, study, or reference, as a room, set of rooms, or building where books may be read or… … Universalium
Library — Reading room redirects here. For other uses, see Reading room (disambiguation). For other uses, see Library (disambiguation). Reading room of the library at the University of Graz, in Austria … Wikipedia
Library classification — forms part of the field of library and information science. It is a form of bibliographic classification (library classifications are used in library catalogs, while bibliographic classification also covers classification used in other kinds of… … Wikipedia
Library catalog — A library catalog (or library catalogue) is a register of all bibliographic items found in a library or group of libraries, such as a network of libraries at several locations. A bibliographic item can be any information entity (e.g., books,… … Wikipedia