• Define subject, subject heading, and subject analysis.
• Define Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and provide examples of how they are used.
• Define Sears Subject Headings (Sears) and provide examples of how they are used.
A subject is a topic or theme of a work. It refers to what the content of an item is “about”.
In cataloging, items are assigned one or more subject headings as access points to assist users in locating materials.
A subject heading is a specific word or phrase that describe the topic of an item.
In the case of cataloging, controlled vocabulary is used. In other words, the subject heading is selected from a preferred list of terms.
Subject headings are often subdivided into subheadings such as Immigration enforcement -- United States.
Qualifiers may also be used to eliminate misunderstandings such as Mice (Computers).
Subject analysis involves examining an item to determine the subject heading(s) that best describe the content. While the title may help in this process, it can also be misleading. An detailed subject analysis is necessary to ensure accuracy.
The book title Heaven and Hell could describe everything from a religious text to a violent video game.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
In the United States, most libraries use the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH).
This controlled vocabulary list is a thesaurus used in assigning subject headings.
The alphabetical listing directs users from a synonym to a preferred term.
Other relations are also indicated such as UF (used for), BT (broader term), RT (related term), NT (narrower term).
Go to Library of Congress and explore some examples. Be sure to try the visualization.
Sears Subject Headings
Sears List of Subject Headings are controlled vocabulary list of headings for use in cataloging.
Sears is a thesaurus known for keeping up-to-date with changing terminology. For instance, Sustainable agriculture is a new heading.
Like the Library of Congress Subject Headings, you’ll want to consider related words including UF (used for), BT (broader term), RT (related term), NT (narrower term).
Small and medium-sized libraries such as school libraries use Sears Subject Headings.
Subject headings are used as access points to assist users in locating items.
Catalogers use a controlled vocabulary thesaurus to select subject headings including words that are more broad, more narrow, and related to the topic.
Library of Congress Subject Headings are used in most academic libraries, while Sears List of Subject Headings is often used in school and medium-sized public libraries.