Report of the
AALL Representative to the American Library Association
Association for Library Collection and Technical Services
Cataloging and Classification Section
Subject Analysis Committee (SAC)
Midwinter Meeting, Seattle, January 2007
Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., June 2007
Fordham Law School Library
ymandelstam [at] law.fordham.edu
In the past year, the Subject Analysis Committee (SAC) and its subcommittees focused mainly on the future of subject headings, the development of genre/form headings, and the application of faceted subject terminology.
The 2007 Midwinter minutes and reports are available on the SAC website at http://www.ala.org/ala/alctscontent/catalogingsection/catcommittees/subjectanalysis/subjectanalysis.htm. The 2007 Annual meeting documents will be posted online at a later date.
Following is a summary of SAC activities and highlights from the LC reports.
Subcommittee on the Future of Subject Headings
The charge of the subcommittee is to "analyze the future of subject cataloging, with emphasis on Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) through the use of SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis, taking into consideration both internal forces within the library community and external environment."
After its first meeting at ALA Midwinter the subcommittee established a Listserv to discuss Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of LCSH. Over 750 people signed up for the list and the discussions were extremely interesting and often quite heated. Check out the list archive at http://lists.ala.org/wws/arc/headings/
The subcommittee will submit its final report at ALA Midwinter 2008 and is planning a panel discussion at Annual 2008.
Subcommittee on Genre/Form Headings
At ALA Annual, the subcommittee sponsored the program New Developments in Form/Genre Access: where we are, where are we heading, and where we want to be. The presenters were Robert Maxwell from Brigham Young University, Adam Schiff from the University of Washington, and Geraldine Ostrove, a music specialist from the Library of Congress. The speakers described how they have been handling genre/form headings at their respective institutions, the impact of using terms from different thesauri in the MARC 21 655 field, the challenges presented by the current mix of form and topic in the LCSH authority records for topical terms (MARC 21 field 150), and the opportunities provided by the Library of Congress's anticipated release of genre/form authority records (MARC 21 field 155).
At the time this report was written, the program presentations have not yet been available online, but they should be posted soon at http://www.ala.org/ala/alcts/alctsconted/alctsceevents/alctsannual/formgenreaccess.htm
The subcommittee has completed its charge and was disbanded at ALA Annual. Since SAC members felt that there was still much work to be done in the area of genre/form heading, a new subcommittee was established. Various ideas for the charge of the new genre/form subcommittees were suggested at the last SAC meeting at ALA Annual but the final charge is yet to be determined.
Subcommittee on FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology)
FAST--a subject vocabulary derived from the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)-- is being developed by OCLC in cooperation with the Library of Congress. The subcommittee on FAST continued to refine the FAST manual and explore issues related to FAST implementation.
The FAST authority file, which can be accessed at http://fast.oclc.org, contains terms for topics, forms, personal and corporate names, geographic names, events, periods, and uniform titles. All the facets were completed by the Fall of 2007, and the FAST team is now focusing on fine-tuning individual records and on developing reference records that control the way LCSH headings are converted to FAST headings.
If you would like to learn more about the project, check out the FAST website at http://www.oclc.org/research/projects/fast/.
Joint SAC/PCC Task Force on Library of Congress Classification Training
The task force had a one day run-through at ALA Midwinter 2007 and a two day pre-conference workshop at Annual 2007.
The task force's term was extended to ALA Midwinter 2008 to provide the group with additional time needed for final edits. The training material developed by the group will first be used by PCC in a train-the-trainer session to be held at the Library of Congress in late October 2007.
Highlights from reports submitted by Lynn El-Hoshy (Midwinter) and Paul Frank (Annual), Library of Congress Cataloging Policy and Support Office (CPSO)
- Major Subject Headings Changes. The headings Insanity and Insanity–Jurisprudence were cancelled in favor of Insanity (Law) and Insanity defense. The existing heading Insane, which had only been used in combination with legal subdivisions, was cancelled in favor of using Mentally Ill in all situations.
CPSO revised the headings for God to provide a distinction in access between general and comparative works (under the unqualified heading God) and works from a Christian perspective (under the heading God (Christianity)). These revisions provide a uniform treatment for the concept in all religions, since the headings for other religions were already established as God (Islam), God (Judaism), etc.
- LC will Continue to Apply Precoordinated Subject Headings. At the request of the director of the Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Directorate (ABA), the Cataloging Policy and Support Office studied the pros and cons of precoordinated subject strings. On June 13, 2007, the ABA Directorate Management Team endorsed the CPSO recommendation that the Library of Congress continue to apply precoordinated subject headings. The Management Team also accepted a suite of recommendations aimed at making precoordinated LCSH easier to apply.
- Authority Records For LCSH Strings. The Cataloging distribution Service (CDS) announced that it will be increasing the number of subject authority records it distributes to subscribers of MARC Distribution Service–Subject Authorities. The additional authority records will reflect LCSH strings for topics and places followed by free-floating subdivisions. The decision to provide more subject string authority records for popular and frequently-assigned headings is intended to minimize the need for cataloging staff to devise precoordinated strings "from scratch" when assigning subject access points. This will also make systems more effective at automatically validating LCSH.
- Genre/Form Headings. The Library of Congress Cataloging Distribution Service will begin to issue genre/form authority records (MARC 21 field 155) no earlier than September 3, 2007. This effort represents the final phase of the planned expansion of LCSH to include records representing subdivisions (MARC 21 field 18X), and genre/form headings, originally announced and initiated in 1998. In working to define the guidelines for the creation and application of these headings, CPSO has drafted instruction sheet H 1913 for the Subject Cataloging Manual: Subject Headings. The draft is available at http://www.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/h1913dft.pdf (163 KB PDF). Note that this instruction sheet covers only the development and use of genre/form headings for moving image; however, the plan is to create similar instruction sheets for other areas where genre/form headings can be created and applied, such as music, radio, law, etc. Because this instruction sheet will serve as the model for these other subject areas, CPSO invites comments and suggestions for improvement, to be sent to Janis Young at firstname.lastname@example.org
- RSS Feeds for LCSH and LCC Weekly Lists. The Library of Congress Subject Headings Weekly Lists and Library of Congress Classification Weekly Lists are now available as free RSS feeds. To subscribe, go to http://www.loc.gov/rss/ and select "Library of Congress Subject Headings Weekly Lists" and/or "Library of Congress Classification Weekly Lists."
- LCSH Milestone. At the end of February 2007 there were 300,065 subject authority records in Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), making it by far the largest subject authority file in the world.
- Library of Congress Subject Headings, 30th edition was just published and includes approved subject headings and changes through November 2006.
- New Editions of Classification Schedules. Since the 2006 ALA Annual meeting, new LCC editions include H (Social Sciences), M (Music and Books on Music), P-PZ Tables (Language and Literature), PL-PM (Languages of Eastern Asia, Oceania, Hyperborean, Indian and Artificial Languages), PN (Literature (General)), Q (Science), and T (Technology). There will also be new editions of N (Fine Arts) and E-F (History: America) before the end of 2007.
- Classification Proposals. A new system for submitting classification proposals and producing the Library of Congress Classification Weekly Lists was implemented in November 2006. The new system is being used by LC cataogers and PCC SACO participants who subscribe to Classification Web.
Much more information about the Library of Congress is posted at each ALA meeting. Check out full LC updates at http://www.loc.gov/ala.