Thursday, November 20, 2003

Subject Access

"Why LC Subject Headings Are More Important Than Ever" by Thomas Mann, American Libraries, Oct. 2003, v. 34, no. 9 discusses not the importance of LC subject headings, the title is a bit misleading, but the importance of the ability of users to browse the full precoordinated heading.
We need to get over the uncritical habit of regarding subject-heading strings--and the online public access catalog (OPAC) displays that bring them to our attention--as mere carryovers from the age of manual card catalogs. Instead, we need to consider them afresh in the light of their new and greatly increased power to aid researchers in the online age. By "strings" I am referring to the distinction between precoordinated, ordered phrases in Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) versus postcoordinated Boolean combinations of individual terms, elements, or facets.
Well written by a reference librarian and worth reading.

I often miss articles in American Libraries, I'm a member of SLA. This was brought to my attention by Walt Crawford in his latest Cites and Insights.

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