From the catalogs of babes

{September 16, 2009}   technical topics

What, exactly, is a “technical topic”?  Such as in the following:

–Drawings [R S D]
Use as a form subdivision under technical topics for collections of drawings, plans, etc., on those topics.
Use as a topical subdivision under technical topics for the technique of making technical drawings on those topics, unless a separate heading for the technique has been provided.
NT –Designs and plans [R]

This subdivision is apparently only for use under “technical topics,” but nowhere can I find a definition or explanation of what LSCH thinks a “technical” topic is or which topics are considered “techncial”  and why.

I have a book of couture drawings by Yves Saint Laurent. From these instructions, I assume I can’t use “Yves Saint Laurent–Drawings.” I thought about “Fashion drawing–Drawings,” but a) the book really isn’t about drawing, and b) “Fashion drawing–Drawings” just sounds stupid. “Fashion design–Drawings” seems to be the best, but is “Fashion design” a technical topic? I mean, we would certainly say so here, but I’d sure be interested to know what the Library of Congress thinks.


Hi Ivy, I think using $v Drawings is a legitimate use in this case. It’s one of those situations where I would default to what would help my local library users the most. In this case, Fashion design $v Drawings would be very helpful.

Hi Ivy,

I took another look at this in OCLC Connexion. It looks like $v Pictorial works is the common LCSH form subdivision for this type of book.

Ivy says:

Thanks for your advice. I did end up using “Fashion design $vDrawings.” I had considered “$v Pictorial works,” but honestly, our collection is mostly comprised of pictorial works and I like the ability of “$vDrawings” to narrow and distinguish from photographs or other forms of pictorial works.

My overall beef isn’t so much with this particular book or heading instance, but rather that LSCH uses these seemingly random terms to guide usage and offer instruction. Perhaps there is something defining “technical topics” in the SCM; I confess I haven’t read it cover to cover (and at 4 large volumes, I find it hard to believe that too many people have…). Even if there is a definition and clarification in the Manual, why not include it on Classification Web (from which the “–Drawings” quote is pulled)? We have this new-fangled modern technology called “hyperlinking,” which might be used to open up a window either defining what a “technical topic” is and how to determine if a heading qualifies as one, or even a list of all the current LCSH that qualify as “technical topics.”
I really, really dislike the vague instructions offered in ClassWeb. It makes cataloging harder, not easier, and therefore creates more opportunites for inconsistencies and errors.

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