From the catalogs of babes











{May 7, 2010}   one of these things is not like the others

Sing it with me: one of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong…

  • Bronze jewelry
  • Ceramic jewelry
  • Coral jewelry
  • Cut steel jewelry
  • Diamond jewelry
  • Garnet jewelry
  • Glass jewelry
  • Gold jewelry
  • Hairwork jewelry
  • Jade jewelry
  • Jadite jewelry
  • Paper jewelry
  • Paste jewelry
  • Pearl jewelry
  • Platinum jewelry
  • Shell jewelry
  • Silver jewelry
  • Textile jewelry
  • Turquoise jewelry
  • Wire jewelry
  • Wooden jewelry

Did you guess Paper jewelry? if so, you’re right!

Paper Jewellery

Why? Because paper jewelry is not an authorized Library of Congress subject heading.

It seems like it should be, right? I mean, there’s a clear pattern established for jewelry of different media types. So it seems like adding “Paper jewelry” should be a no-brainer. There’s plenty of literary warrant and everything.

So why isn’t it? Because suggesting and creating new subject headings is an involved, arduous process open to only certain members of the cataloging community. I don’t mean to be harsh, but I’m not sure how else to put it.

See, one needs to be a SACO member to submit a proposal for a new subject heading, or, if not a member, needs to “funnel” their proposals through an authorized member.  So it seems to me what it ends up boiling down to is not really what you know (either about a subject or about LCSH), but rather who you know, and what clubs you belong to.

A cataloger from a non-PCC participating institution who needs a subject heading not available in LCSH or an LC classification number not found in the LC schedules now has the following options available for sending forward a proposal to SACO. 1) Contact a nearby institution that is currently a PCC member and request to submit your new proposal through their contribution mechanism. The second alternative is for your institution to 2) explore entering into a SACO funnel cooperative project and make contributions through an active subject funnel.

I understand that SACO libraries and librarians undergo training in how to properly formulate subject headings, what constitutes literary warrant, and how to submit a proposed subject heading and guide it through the process of research and approval. And that’s great, and valuable and useful. And, imo, almost a complete waste of time and a shot in the foot for subject headings (and by extension, catalogers and library catalog users everywhere).

We’re not a SACO library, and I doubt we ever will be. I don’t currently know anyone or have connections with any library that could funnel suggested headings for us. Yet we’re one of only a few highly specialized fashion libraries in the country, which means we have an intimate and thorough knowledge of that subject area. Who better to create and modify new subject headings for fashion-related subjects? I know of other small, specialized libraries with significant subject knowledge to contribute that are in the same boat we are. Yet, rather than harnessing the specialty subject knowledge from these libraries, subject headings are created for these topics by libraries and librarians that may only have vague (and sometimes inaccurate) ideas about these topics, and not understand the depth of headings needed in some of some these collections.

Now, I’m not advocating that we do away with SACO and start creating headings all willy-nilly. Again, I think the standardization and coordination offered by SACO is a highly beneficial service for libraries. What I would like, however, is a more open process for proposing headings. (While I’m wishing, let’s make it less complicated and easier for the layperson to understand, too.) Let’s let libraries and librarians who might have the best backgrounds in specific areas propose headings like “Paper jewelry” and “Fashion styling” and let the trained SACO professionals approve or disapprove and adjust the headings to comply with standards if necessary. Lots more libraries could then contribute, and lots more needed headings would be added and in areas of specific subject need, which in turn would make more materials accessible to patrons.

ps> Any readers want to funnel “Paper jewelry” and/or “Fashion styling” for me? I even have the paperwork done on the latter, as I didn’t know you had to be a SACO member to submit until after I’d already done all the research…

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What I would like, however, is a more open process for proposing headings. (While I’m wishing, let’s make it less complicated and easier for the layperson to understand, too.)

Or for that matter, make it easier for the the layperson (AKA our patrons) to propose subject headings as well.



Ivy says:

Indeed! A great idea.



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