Inherently Legal Subject Headings Project
Cataloging & Classification Committee Meeting
AALL Annual Meeting, St. Louis, July 2006
Fordham Law School Library
The ILSH Project was created to compile a list of legal subject headings; identify ambiguous legal headings; and submit proposals to LC to add "Law and legislation" see references to the authority records of ambiguous legal headings.
The project was divided into two stages. During the first stage 24 participants combed through the Library of Congress Subject Headings (also known as The Big Red Books), in search of legal subject headings. Once found, participants posted the legal headings on the ILSH website (http://www.lawlib.duq.edu/ILSH/index.htm). Headings containing words used in multiple legal headings were left out (e.g constitution, jurisprudence, law, regulations). Also excluded were legal headings that had L&L see references in the authority records (e.g. Copyright). The first stage of the project was completed in December 2005.
Once the headings were compiled, a specially created task force started the second stage. The group is currently sifting through the compiled legal headings and are dividing them into various categories:
- Non-legal headings in the A-Z list that should be removed (e.g. Aeronautics and state, Capital gains, Census districts).
- Headings we think should be established with L&L.
- Legal headings in need of L&L see references.
- Headings for individual crimes (we noticed that some headings have BT Criminal law, so we thought that while we are at it, we might as well add this BT to ALL headings for individual crimes, in addition to L&L see references).
The task force will soon start sending proposals to LC to add the various references.
One of the interesting partnerships that grew out of the ILSH Project is the one with the FAST developing team. FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology), an OCLC project, is a simplified subject vocabulary derived from LCSH. The beta version of the FAST authority file can be accessed at http://fast.oclc.org/.
We found in FAST a great analysis tool for identifying ambiguous legal headings. Here is an example of a FAST authority record that can be useful to us (selected fields only):
150 Intellectual property $x Law and legislation
688 LC subject usage: 6 (2005)
688 WC subject usage: 282 (2005)
750 0 Intellectual property $0 (DLC)sh 85067167
As you can see–field 688 shows 282 occurrences of this incorrect heading in WordCat, which tells us that many catalogers are not clear about the inherently legal status of the heading (and are also unaware that "Law and Legislation" in NOT free floating unless applied to specific pattern headings).
The FAST team agreed to send us a file with headings that have L&L in the 150 field and no corresponding LCSH in the 750 field (we are aware that, since LC never established pattern headings with L&L, some correct headings will be included in the file).
The FAST data, which we should receive soon, will help us speed up our analysis of inherently legal subject headings. In return, we promised the FAST team to send them a list of incorrect headings so they can remove them from the FAST authority file.