Many thanks to Paul G. Weiss of the Library of Congress for responding to several questions which were recently sent to him regarding LCSH authorities and practices. A record of these "Q-and-A's" is printed below.
Question: Would it be possible to add a scope note to the authority record for ELECTRONIC INFORMATION RESOURCES? I am confused about the term's relationship to COMPUTER NETWORK RESOURCES and to DATABASES and to INFORMATION STORAGE AND RETRIEVAL SYSTEMS. Of course, this is a fast changing area of terminology, but I'm concerned that we may be limiting access to desired information if we do not explain the differences among these subjects.
LC Response: ELECTRONIC INFORMATION RESOURCES is the broader heading that encompasses all three of the more specific types, as indicated by the BT references. (We have just added it as a BT to INFORMATION STORAGE AND RETRIEVAL SYSTEMS. It was already present as a BT for COMPUTER NETWORK RESOURCES and for DATABASES.)
Question: When we are dealing instead with a specific topic, those form statements are assigned as subdivisions; for example, LAW--COMPUTER NETWORK RESOURCES, or LAW--DATABASES. However, in some other cases the form is presented as the main heading followed by a subdivision for the specific discipline, as in INFORMATION STORAGE AND RETRIEVAL SYSTEMS--LAW, or, REFERENCE BOOKS--LAW. Why is the topic given as the lead term in some cases, but as a subdivision in other cases?
LC Response: Those [latter example] are "old style" headings of the type that we never establish anymore. If we were establishing them as new headings, the topic would come first. We hope someday to get rid of all these "backward" headings, if time and resources permit.
Question: Will --ELECTROINIC INFORMATION RESOURCES be established as a free-floating subdivision under subjects, as was done for --COMPUTER NETWORK RESOURCES and for --DATABASES?
LC Response: As of now, we haven't cataloged any works that would require establishing it as a subdivision. There is no reason why we couldn't if we ever need to.
Question: For the book, Criminal procedure: arrest and investigation / Arnold H. Loewy (c1996), LC has assigned a 650 line: POLICE-UNITED STATES-CASES. Since SCM:SH 1154.5 tells us that the subdivision -CASES can only be used under law-related headings, shouldn't the subject heading be POLICE-LEGAL STATUS, LAWS, ETC.-UNITED STATES-CASES?
LC Response: We've always treated the police as part of the legal system, like judges, lawyers, etc., and therefore we don't use - LEGAL STATUS, LAWS, ETC. after this heading.
Question: For the following "inherently legal" subject headings, can you add 450-tagged references: PUBLIC CONTRACTS-LAW AND LEGISLATION, use: PUBLIC CONTRACTS; and, SALES-LAW AND LEGISLATION, use: SALES? (On the other hand, has the word "sales" evolved in the common usage to mean something broader or different than simply the legal definition? If yes, then maybe LC would consider establishing SALES--LAW AND LEGISLATION as a heading in its own right.)
LC Response: I will add the 450s to PUBLIC CONTRACTS and SALES, and will also clarify the language in the scope note under SALES.
Suggestion: Another see-reference which would be useful: MARINE RESOURCES--GOVERNMENT POLICY, use: MARINE RESOURCES AND STATE.
LC Response:We will change the heading MARINE RESOURCES AND STATE to MARINE RESOURCES--GOVERNMENT POLICY.