Library of Congress Subject Heading Blog-a-Thon: Response from LC

Here is a response from Anthony R.D. Franks Team Leader, Cooperative Cataloging Team Library of Congress, published with his permission (links added and typos fixed):

Thank you for your recent e-mail about the Blog-a-Thon. It will be interesting to see what your group comes up with next time. To facilitate matters, please let me know ahead of time. As we usually identify proposals by institution and not by group, it's always a good idea to include a note in the 952 field--perhaps "Blogathon returns!"

The SACO web forms provide several valuable functions. Using them means less manual re-keying of data and faster workflow. They also collect the necessary information for establishing not only a single heading, but for its place in the hierarchical structure of BTs. They give us additional guidance in needed changes to LCSH and bibliographic file maintenance.

The Coop Team alone is now handling as many as four thousand proposals for new LCSH headings each year and as many as one thousand suggestions for revisions to headings. We do not have the staff and resources to replicate research that others have done and could provide to us through using these forms.

We also collect statistics from the data--that is why it is essential to have the MARC21 code in the 040. We cannot use OCLC or other local network codes as they are the property of those groups. In some cases, I have been able to identify the MARC21 code of an institution, but in other cases, I have had to use LC's code.

Some of your fellow bloggers have already input proposals into the SACO web forms.

Using the blog discussions, I was able to identify the proposals that resulted in order to provide some feedback. This will make clearer other workflow and editorial problems in LCSH.

  1. "Eastern filbert blight" and related proposals.
    I have discovered no reason for its languor in the proposal workflow. I did some editing and sent it forward to subject editorial.

  2. "Cutting (Self-mutilation)"
    This proposal illustrates in small some of the problems in proposing subject headings. Often, one focuses solely on the single heading and does not see the LCSH structure into which it must fit. In this case, the cross references included in the proposal were actually appropriate for the Broader Term, "Self-mutilation" and should have been made as a separate change proposal to that heading. I gave the heading to Adam Schiff, University of Washington, who was here for the PCC Operations Committee meetings and was the lead writer for the SACO participant's manual. He took care of it and it is now in CPSO.

  3. Organic foods/Natural foods
    Organic foods and Natural foods, until now, to have been used interchangeably. When proposing such a change, it is a grreat help if related authority records (in this case three) are also addressed by the person making the proposal. We would also have to sort through 300 or so bib records to see which ought to have what heading.

  4. "Generative organs" and two related changes
    The above comments are especially true of this. There are 84 related authority records for which change proposals should have been submitted--and over 1500 bib records to sort out. This will take time.

  5. "Bollywood"
    A couple years ago, this came through as a proposal and the decision was to use this as a cross reference. In the interests of keeping all treatments of the film industry together as a topical set, the heading is "Motion picture industry--India--Bombay"

  6. "Gullahs" This was established in LCSH in the late 1980s, after an LC cataloger researched it from a list of proposed headings sent in by Sandy Berman.