[Library Media] The use of subject headings

Harris, Laurel Laurel.Harris at canyonsdistrict.org
Wed Mar 8 11:08:20 MST 2017

I would like to comment on the removal and use of subject headings.  I am a district cataloger and I think that as librarians we should follow the cataloging rules. This means using the defined terms from Sears List and Library of Congress authorities.  The reason being that what makes sense to one person does not necessarily make sense to another.  Committees at the Library of Congress spend numerous hours deliberating, debating and considering the subject headings we use.  I purchase the current Sears List to review and check the online authorities every time I consider using a subject heading I’m not certain of.  The subject headings do get dated and they are changed in this sources to reflect that.

Although its considered a college level skill I also teach my high school students to use the subject headings as a guide in research.  When finding a book that is pertinent to their topic they can use the subject headings from that book to formulate a new search.  When subject headings become random and unique to the cataloger instead of universal as the LOC and Sears subjects are the catalog becomes unique to the location and not useful to the majority.

When I look for cataloging for obscure titles or foreign language titles from other sources I count on them to have followed the cataloging rules as set up by LOC.  More and more that is what I find.  With RDA being implemented I know when I see a record using these formats that I can use the information to catalog an item in a language I don’t know.  When I am following cataloging rules, I like to think that someone else will be able to use my cataloging as well.

Laurel Harris,
Librarian - Jordan High School
Cataloger – Canyons District
95 East Beetdigger Boulevard
Sandy, UT 84070

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