From the catalogs of babes

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…

{February 18, 2010}   can a hotel have a biography?

Bib record for "Just Kids" by Patti Smith

Just wondering. Hotels seem like inanimate buildings to me, but what do I know?


…becuase I’m really tempted to submit “Jeggings.”

Yes, I have literary warrant.

{November 18, 2009}   LCSH of the day
Beauty operators   (May Subd Geog)  [R S D]
UF  Beauticians
  Hair stylists
BT  Beauty culture
  Beauty shops
NT  Electrologists  [R]

Really? Really?

Do people really associate “beauty operators” with hair stylists and beauticians? Because the general impression around here of “beauty operators” is a row of telephone receptionists, waiting to take your call and answer your pressing emergency beauty questions. Beauty operators are standing by…

{November 7, 2009}   Hot LCSH of the day

Just encountered the subject heading “Hot Spots (Political science),” which, being a fashion and design library and all, we don’t see much of around here.

I asked a co-worker what she thought and she said “So it’s used for books all about the bars, restaurants, and nightclubs frequented by politicians?”

Sadly, it’s actually “works on areas of civil, military, or political tension that sometimes flare up into major conflicts.” Bummer. I think her definition is way better.

{October 8, 2009}   a busy week

Lots of crazy stuff going on in cataloging this week, from the Library of Congress finally coming to the table regarding the subject heading “Cookery” [pdf] to a new bibliographic utility in the market to compete with OCLC. Plus I’ve been finishing up a 4-part series of blog posts in response to reader commentary talking about how I started cataloging and directions from there.

But all of those things pale compared to the official announcement today that our Head Librarian is resigning. She’s moving on to new & better things, but I confess I’m anxious about what will happen now–especially since the library director already has some “ideas.” That’s probably the part that scares me the most.

{September 23, 2009}   We are all consumers

Today we received 101 Charts About Men, so I was looking up other titles with similar subject headings to see where the topic was classed in our collection. I found quite a few books with the heading

Male consumers   (May Subd Geog)  [R S D]
UF  Men consumers [Former Heading]
BT  Consumers

I thought this was strange, considering LC’s propensity for parallel structure–I distinctly recalled the equivalent heading

Women consumers   (May Subd Geog)  [R S D]
UF  Women as consumers [Former Heading]
BT  Consumers
NT  Lesbian consumers  [R]

If headings are parallel shouldn’t it be “Female consumers”? Or “Men consumers”? There’s not even a UF reference for “Women consumers.”

And then it reminded me of one of my all-time favorite headings:

Child consumers   (May Subd Geog)  [R S D]
UF  Children as consumers [Former Heading]
BT  Consumers

I certainly hope the Library of Congress wasn’t thinking the same thing I was thinking when they came up with that heading…

{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.

Mostly when I talk about our school, the library and its specialties, I talk about fashion. But we’re not just a one-trick pony–we offer other majors besides fashion design and the obligatory apparel- and textile-related topics. We also offer degrees and certificates in graphic design, visual communications, digital media and interior design.

Let’s talk about interior design, shall we? Obviously, we get quite a few requests for books and materials on “interior design,” which is only logical considering that is the name of the program major and how the department refers to itself. However, the Library of Congress seems to disagree:

Interior design
USE  Interior decoration  [R

Which is okay, except that since it’s not the term our patrons use, most of them would not think to search under the heading “interior decoration.” It wouldn’t be too big of a deal if our ILS supported see and see also references, so I can’t foist all the blame on LC for that one. However, interior design!=interior decoration. If anything, I’d say the latter might be a subset of the former. To cover non-decorative topics like space planning, we’d need to also search “Interior architecture”–a phrase which I have never heard any of our library patrons use. So even with the seereference, the LCSH isn’t all that accurate.

But Dewey…now that’s a house of a different color. DDC has a separate classifications for interior architecture and interior decoration: 729 vs. 747.

                 Design and decoration of structures and accessories

Class here interior architecture (the art or practice of planning and supervising the design and execution of architectural interiors and their furnishings)

Class design and decoration of structures and accessories of specific types of buildings in 725-728 .

For interior decoration , see 747 .

See Manual at 729  .

Referring to the manual at 729 gives us this:

Use 729 only for general works that focus specifically on architectural design. Use 690 for works that treat construction alone, and use 721 for works that treat design and construction together. Use 729 for works on decoration only when the subject is being treated as an aspect of architectural decoration rather than as an art object in itself, e.g., the use of murals as architectural decoration 729.4 , but comprehensive works on murals 751.73 .
             Interior decoration

Design and decorative treatment of interior furnishings

Class here interior decoration of residential buildings

Class interior architecture (interior design) in 729 ;

Class textile arts and handicrafts in 746 ;

Class interior decoration of specific types of residential buildings in 747.88 .

For furniture and accessories , see 749 .

Yes, I understand that 729 is for interior design of structures, i.e., where the walls go. 747 is for decoration, like what colors to paint those walls. There are no inherent problems with LCH or DDC for the variety of topics in interior design. Our patrons are saying “tomato,” and libraries are saying “tomahto.” Patrons are saying “interior design” and libraries are saying “interior decoration” and “interior architecture.” It doesn’t seem like such a difficult situation, but imagine you’re a student searching the catalog for books on interior design and getting no results. I suppose we could spend a lot of time teaching them how these intricate, subtle differences work, but why? It’s not how the subject is referred to in their classes, and it’s not how the topics are handled in the interior design industry, out there in the working world. Why spend time teaching them something that’s not going to benefit any other aspect of their studies or future career?  I’m sure LCSH and Dewey are speaking the language of some users somewhere, but they’re certainly not speaking the language of ours.

{May 12, 2009}   blink for just a second…

So last week I moved into a new place. What does this have to do with a blog about cataloging? Nothing. But I did find it interesting that in the few days I was jonesing for my internet crack fix, several very interesting things popped up:

It never fails that all the good, juicy stuff happens while I’m gone. I haven’t had much time yet to investigate details on any of these, but I’m pretty sure I’ll have some strong opinions once I do…

et cetera