Antisemitism in the Library of Congress Classification scheme

I’m not talking about antisemitism in the Library of Congress Classification scheme. No — i’m talking about the placement of antisemitism within LCC.


As I’ve said before — Jews and Israelis are not the same thing.

Question: Why do you keep harping on this Netanel, we have to put everything somewhere!

Answer: Easy — I’m Jewish, I’m Israeli, I’m a cataloger, and it matters. It matters because the equation of these two distinct identities in the national (and international) sphere has incredibly potent and serious ramifications for war, peace, land, and money. Codifying this false equivalence into the LCC scheme, while not as widely used as DDC, then spreads the idea into every library in the world that uses LCC. I’m not trying to be overdramatic (though perhaps I am) — but the way we define our bibliographical (and non biblio) resources, what we collocate, tells our users (and reaffirms to ourselves) the way we think the world “is” and perhaps the way it “ought to be”.

So I harp.

Alright, so let’s talk about antisemitism in LCC. I’ve lived in the United States for nearly my entire life, and the US has a rich history of antisemitism, so let’s see where we’ll find those resources.

E184.3-E184.37  is the range for United States—Elements in the population—Jews

Putting aside the “Elements in the population aspect”, that’s a pretty reasonable place to look for anything that might have to do with the experiences, conditions, accomplishments and treatment of Jews in the United States. Indeed, you’ll find subdivisions broken down by period and then a section of Special topics, A-Z which includes:

E184.36.A-Z                          Special topics, A-Z
E184.36.A34                         African American-Jewish relations
                                              Antisemitism see DS146.U6
E184.36.E25                         Economic conditions

(emphasis mine)

oh ho!

What’s this now? We’ve been redirected to our old friend DS101-151 where we find:

History of Asia—Israel (Palestine). The Jews—Special topics—Jewish diaspora—Antisemitism—By region or country, A-Z

DS146.A-Z             By region or country, A-Z
                                             e.g.
DS146.A67                         Arab countries
DS146.E85                         Europe. Europe, Western
DS146.E8515                     Europe, Central
DS146.E852                       Europe, Eastern
DS146.U6                           United States

That’s right, all antisemitism is collocated under Israel (Palestine). The Jews rather than being placed with the country in which the antisemitism is happening, despite the fact that it’s subdivided by country!

LCC has enough of an understanding that the experiences of Jews can differ widely from country to country that each country has a cutter given to them in the “Elements in the population” section. [Edit — this is incorrect please see this post for more] The United States, LC’s fav country, even provides numerous sub-topics of Jewish lives. So if you want to discuss antisemitism in that country, why are we being sent to the DSs if not for the idea that there is a Jewish whole (which is equivalent to the State of Israel) under which all topics can be indexed.

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New LCSH!

As always — check out the full approved list

Here are some that I enjoy, why not add them to your records today!

African American students [May Subd Geog]

Poster from the movie 'Dear White People'
This movie was really good. Go rent it.

there’s actually a bunch of new headings in this area, consider also:

  • African American high school boys
  • African American middle school boys
  • African American schoolboys

Where are the African American girls LCSH?

Age in literature [Not Subd Geog]

Ah, the Jordan Catalano version
Ah, the Jordan Catalano version

 

Apocalyptic television programs [May Subd Geog]

A promo from the show, "The 100"
I will not apologize for loving “The 100”

 

Autistic people in literature [Not Subd Geog]

Cover for "A Wizard Alone" by Diane Duane
Check out disabilityinkidlit.com/disability/autism/ for more great recommendations!

 

Autonomous robots–Law and legislation [May Subd Geog]

A pulp-drawing of a robot running amok
“IF ONLY WE’D HAD LAW AND LEGISLATION!”

Boys–New York (State)

A promotion still from the movie "Newsies"
See also, “Absentee fathers — New Mexico — Santa Fe”

 

Canadian-American Border Region

Cover of film "Canadian Bacon"
I haven’t seen this, but i’m PRETTY sure that’s what it’s about.

 

Celebrities in popular culture [May Subd Geog]

Cover art from the show "Extras"
Remember when Daniel Radcliffe propositioned Diana Rigg?

 

Cochineal insect industry [May Subd Geog]

A picture of a Starbucks Frappuccino
Mmmmmmm bugs.

 

Cosplay [May Subd Geog]

A woman in a zombie-costume with "The Concise AACR2" stuck in her head.
“TAKE THAT, AACR2” – RDA

 

Department stores in motion pictures [Not Subd Geog]

Promotional still from the movie "Mannequin"
Hollywood Montrose thinks this wedding is a bad idea.

 

Didjeridu and guitar music [May Subd Geog]

 

Dragons in motion pictures [Not Subd Geog]

A gif of Jeremy Irons hamming it up
Jeremy Irons would like to watch ALLLLLLL those dragon movies

 

Human-animal relationships in mass media [Not Subd Geog]

Ripley from "Alien" with Jonesy the cat
Cat-Relationship goals

 

Inuit dance [May Subd Geog]

 

Just (The English word) [May Subd Geog]

A promotional still for the show "Justified" but cropped to look like it's called "Just"
Coming this fall to FX, Timothy Elephant teaches kids about the word ‘Just’

 

Romance fiction, French [May Subd Geog]

Looks more like seafoam to me...
Looks more like seafoam to me…

A note here: every instance of Love Stories, ______ (language or region) has been changed to Romance fiction, ______ so please be careful when applying that heading now!

Denali, Mount (Alaska)

A picture of Denali, the tallest mountain in the United States
DEAL WITH IT, OHIO

 

Online trolling [May Subd Geog]

A comic depicting a jerk sea lion interrupting people.
Ugh. Stop.

 

Pregnancy in popular culture [May Subd Geog]

Promotional still from "Jane the Virgin"
This show is so good, just get past the title. #AmbushSprayTan

 

Rain and rainfall in motion pictures [Not Subd Geog]

Gif from the movie "The Notebook"
I wrote you every day, but it was so rainy the letters got smeared.

 

Right to be forgotten [May Subd Geog]

Promotional still from "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"
See, Kate Winslet was tired of Jim Carrey googling her — so she went to Ruffles for help.

 

Shipwreck victims’ families [May Subd Geog]

Promotional still from "Titanic"
“That Billy Zane is perfect for my Rose.”

 

Skepticism in motion pictures [Not Subd Geog]

A gif from "Jurassic Park"
Any excuse to use this.

 

SlutWalk movement [May Subd Geog]

A picture from a SlutWalk in Toronto
Smash the patriarchy

 

Unpaid labor [May Subd Geog]

A picture saying "Unethical business practices"
Pay your employees. All of them.

 

Women–Arizona

Promotional still from "Thelma & Louise"
A classic Arizona tradition

 

Genre/Form terms

Bellydance music

 

 

New LCSH!

As always — check out the full approved list

Here are some that tickle m’fancy and may tickle yours!

Bildungsromans, Chinese (May Subd Geog)

Young China National Rejuvenation and the Bildungsroman, 1900–1959
I mean, that’s a pretty good usage of that heading, no?

 

Cancer patients in literature (Not Subd Geog)

An assortment of YA books about teens with cancer
My sister read MANY of these books

 

Cataloging of streaming technology (May Subd Geog)

A stream flowing out of a tv
Get it?

Chicken cutlets (May Subd Geog)

A picture of bra inserts
I learned something about a slang meaning of ‘chicken cutlets’ for this post

Cooking (Jackfruit) (May Subd Geog)

A vegan 'pulled pork' made from jackfruit
Surprise! I’m not pulled pork!

Duduk (Oboe) and guitar music (May Subd Geog)

 

Labyrinths in motion pictures (Not Subd Geog)

A hyper snap from the movie Hellraiser 2
Bet you didn’t see THAT coming!

Libido (Not Subd Geog)

David Bowie's crotch from Labyrinth
There it is.

Plants (Philosophy)

A picture of a plant with a sad face super-imposed onto it.
Her philosophy: Sad.

Saltiness (Taste) (May Subd Geog)

A depiction of Lot's wife in her Pillar-of-Salt form.
She was just real salty at having to leave all her stuff behind, it was a bad translation.

 

Ultra running (May Subd Geog)

A picture of Mirna Valerio, an ultramarathoner
Real talk though — she’s amazing.

Undoer of Knots, Our Lady (Not Subd Geog)

A business woman with a knot of a problem.
Help me, Mary.

 

X-Factor (Fictitious characters) (Not Subd Geog)

Comic book cover of X Factor 39
I think the blue one is Simon Cowell?

MEDIUM OF PERFORMANCE TERMS
tenoroon

A picture of a tenoroon.
Look! It’s a tenoroon!

 

 

Happy Indigenous People’s Day

I have the day off from work due to ‘Columbus Day’. The general awfulness of this day being enshrined into the United States federal holidays is an important issue and I’m adding some links for those interested in reading more:

My area is more “cat and class” so today I thought I’d discuss my frustration with $x Relocation.

Sparked (yet again!) by something from Jenna Freedman — this nasty little subdivision has two uses.

—Relocation (May Subd Geog)
Use as a topical subdivision under occupational groups and types of employees and ethnic groups.

What’s the big deal here? It’s just about groups moving from one place to another, seems fairly harmless.

No.

Here are two headings that I think clarify the situation:

  • Forced migration (May Subd Geog)
    UF Cleansing, Ethnic
    Compulsory resettlement
    Ethnic cleansing
    Ethnic purification
    Involuntary resettlement
    Migration, Forced
    Purification, Ethnic
    Relocation, Forced
    Resettlement, Involuntary
    BT Migration, Internal
    SA subdivision Relocation under ethnic groups
  • Employees—Relocation (May Subd Geog)
    [HF5549.5.R47]
    Here are entered works on the transfer of employees by their companies to another geographical location. Works on the transfer of employees from one department or position to another within the same company, within the same geographical location are entered under Employees—Transfer.
    UF Employee relocation
    Employees, Relocation of [Former heading]
    Job transfers
    Relocating of personnel
    Relocation of employees
    SA subdivision Relocation under occupational groups and types of employees; and subdivision Officials and employees—Relocation under names of countries, cities, etc., and under individual government departments, agencies, etc.

Did you catch it?

When used as a subdivision under ethnic groups, ‘–Relocation’ is referring to ethnic cleansing and forced migration (itself a euphemistic term).

When used as a subdivision under occupational groups and types of employees, it refers to employees moving from one geographical location to another within the same company.

One of these things is not like the other.

Here are some examples that illustrate that from the authorized headings:

Cherokee Indians—Relocation (May Subd Geog)
NT Trail of Tears, 1838-1839

4,000 Cherokee died during that ‘relocation’

Navajo Indians—Relocation (May Subd Geog)
NT Navajo Long Walk, 1863-1867

Over 2,000 Navajo and Mescalero Apaches died  during that particular ‘relocation’

Contrast those with the following:

Employees—Relocation—Law and legislation (May Subd Geog)
BT Labor contract

Library moving (May Subd Geog)
[Z703.5]
UF Libraries—Moving
Libraries—Relocation
Moving of libraries
Relocation of libraries

No one’s dead, no one’s being systematically uprooted and forced (at gunpoint) to leave their homes. These are fundamentally different concepts.

The usage of the term ‘relocation’ under both occupational groups and ethnic groups is innappropiate. It serves to sanitize what is actually meant be relocation under the latter, and only furthers the colonial/imperial perspective of Christopher Columbus and this day given his name.

MARCXML, Part Three

Alright — So the leader:

Despite the spec of all types of MARC saying that the leader should be 23 characters, it is abundantly clear that when there are multiple spaces in a row, they are normalized to a single space in MARCXML. Rather than my assertions failing on every single MARC record I’m testing it on…I modified the assertions to allow that. *shrug* Gotta deal with the reality of the situation, and not just the spec.

Weirdness though!! So I’m using the oXygen XML editor. I cannot guarantee that all ya’ll can replicate this problem in your editors. When I add an error to my main MARCXML record to test my validator…suddenly I pop 10,000+ errors! Then I run it again (and any subsequent times) and get just the single error I added. Fix the error, and same thing: I have over a ten thousand errors, then run it second time (or more) — it’s clean and validated. Weird. At first it was making me nervous that I’d royally screwed something up. Glad that wasn’t the case (I hope).

So I had been adding assertion by assertion field by field, which became a bit tedious and I realized it was rather inefficient. There are so many fields whose indicators are the same, and it’d be more efficient to first categorize fields by indicators and then to create an assertion en masse.

To that end, I made this — a google sheet of indicators, it’s every single field possible in bibliographic, authority, holdings, and classification MARC organized by their indicators. I didn’t do community MARC because 1. I was super sick of doing it by that point, and 2. I’ve still never seen an example of community MARC! Is it in use? Anywhere?

The next step is then to add the assertions back into my .xsd file and test the heck out of the darn thing.

White Privilege is not in the Library of Congress Subject Headings

This is not a discussion of how whiteness-as-assumed-default manifests in the LCSH, rather, as was pointed out to me by Jenna Freedman, this is a rant about how ‘White privilege’ as a term is not in the LCSH.

Here is the excerpt from Jenna’s link to the SACO decision meeting:

White privilege

White privilege is a particular way of viewing racism; instead of looking at the disadvantages that people of color experience, the scholarship examines the privileges white people have.  The concept is covered by several existing headings, such as Racism;Race discrimination; [class of persons or ethnic group]—Social conditions; [place]—Race relations; [ethnic group]—Race identity; etc.  The meeting feels that the existing subject headings are sufficient.  The proposal was not approved.

(emphasis theirs)

This is emphatically wrong. The following terms:

  • Racism
  • Race discrimination
  • [Class of persons or ethnic group] — Social conditions
  • [Place] — Race relations
  • [Ethnic group] — Race identity

Do not encapsulate or really even lean towards what White privilege is or how it works.

“White[:] privilege the ability for Whites to maintain an elevated status in society that masks racial inequality.”
— Andersen, M.; Taylor, H.; Logio, K. (2014), Sociology: The Essentials (8th ed.), Cengage Learning, p. 424, ISBN 978-1-285-96566-6

As the last part of that definition implies, many discussions of white privilege use the term ‘blind’ or ‘unconscious’ — precisely because some white folks (I am no exception, believe me, I was a firm believer in “I have no privilege!” for far too much of my youth…) do not think they have any privilege over people of color. This is why it is so important to highlight that white privilege is not simply an extension of racism or race discrimination, but a fundamental part of the make-up of the United States.

As LC rejected the term, let’s see what headings have been assigned to books that explicitly use the term ‘White privilege’ in their titles or contents:

  •  White privilege : essential readings on the other side of racism
    by Paula S Rothenberg;

    • United States — Race relations.
      Whites — Race identity — United States.
      Whites — United States — Social conditions.
  • Seeing white : an introduction to white privilege and race
    by Jean O’Malley Halley; Amy Eshleman; Ramya Mahadevan Vijaya

    • Race awareness.
      Whites — Race identity.
      Race discrimination.
  • Understanding white privilege : creating pathways to authentic relationships across race
    by Frances E Kendall

    • Whites — Race identity.
      United States — Race relations.
      Race discrimination — United States.
  • Dismantling white privilege : pedagogy, politics, and whiteness
    by Nelson M Rodriguez; Leila E Villaverde;

    • Critical pedagogy — United States.
      Whites — Race identity — United States.
      Discrimination in education — United States.
  • White privilege and racism : perceptions and actions
    by Carole L Lund; Scipio A J Colin;

    • Adult education.
      Discrimination in education.
      Whites — Race identity.

Here we come to my major criticism: while ‘discrimination’ appears as a heading in four of the five books, which illustrates the disadvantages given to non-whites, none of the headings, and certainly none of the ones under ‘Whites’ have any hint of an advantage. 

Neither ‘Social conditions’, nor ‘Race identity’ imparts the notion that white folks have a leg-up and an advantage over people of color in every facet of American society. They simply serve to say “this book is about white folks” and “this book is about white folks as white folks.

I hope I’ve sufficiently demonstrated why the terms offered by LC as equivalent are in fact, not equivalent, nor close enough to cover the topic.

“Literary warrant” is the canonical call to arms for the creation of new subject headings. Well “White privilege” has 199 hits in LC’s catalog, and 1,747 in WorldCat.

Add the term, SACO.

Origin Story

The year was 2005 and a young man started his tenure at Berklee College of Music.

Berklee College of Music

Spoiler alert: He was me.

Metal Band Photo
Yes, I was this cool.

I began my music studies and naturally that included going to the library. I found my favorite call number ranges (MP126 and MP136 [guitar transcription and bass transcription respectively]) and started worked my way through them. One day though — I found a guitar transcription of an Iron Maiden album, Brave New World in the MP128s.

Iron Maiden - Brave New World, guitar transcription

Why wasn’t it among the other guitar transcription books in the MP126s? There were other Iron Maiden guitar books there, why is this Iron Maiden different from all others?

I brought the tab-book in question to the circulation desk, and posed my query. The student employee didn’t know and so she brought in a ref librarian to help. The answer I got was sort of a shrugged, “the catalogers know what they’re doing, and this one is an MP128.” I don’t begrudge that ref librarian that answer. As a now cataloger, our decisions aren’t always clear and I certainly don’t expect every member of my current library team to be able to explain every decision that I’ve made.

That book stayed on the shelf where it was, orphaned from its friends.

Time Passes

I managed to snag a job at the Berklee Library, and for a while I was perfectly content to perform the basic circulation tasks and functions while I bade my time.

As I grew more comfortable in the library, and impressed the professional staff with my attention to detail, I started asking more questions.

  • “Why are these books here and those books there?” 
  • “How does the computer manage to collate all these different spellings of Tchaikovsky?”
  • “What’s a fire and why does it, what’s the word? burn?”

Eventually someone pointed out to me where the Big M Book lived and suddenly: the world opened up.M Class Library of Congress book

Here it was, a grimoire, a book of ancient and powerful lore. At long last, the secrets of the shelf were enumerated and laid bare. I knew that with this tremendous tome at my side, I would be able to unlock the hidden depths of the library and become its master.

What I found though, was more terrifying than I could’ve imagined. There was no MP subclass!

No MP subclass.

What did it mean?

The Berklee library had 5 sections:

  • M
  • ML
  • MP
  • MT
  • everything else from A-Z (not very big)

But this book, purporting to represent the entire M Class had three sections:

  • M
  • ML
  • MT

What sorcery was this?! Whence came the MP?

Dejected and broken, I finally did the unthinkable: I asked to speak to the cataloger.

A model castle with lightning flashes
Artist’s rendition

She agreed to meet with me though I had to stand on the other side of a veil of shadowy darkness, for none may gaze into the face of a cataloger and live. It was here I learned the dark secret held for so many years: they’d made up the MP section.

While the M class was sufficient for most libraries, due to Berklee’s unique holdings (ALL MUSIC ALL THE TIME) — they had determined some forgotten aeons ago that “popular music” ought not to interfile with “unpopular music”.

And lo, the MP subclass was born, squalling and hideous.


In theory, it had been intended to mirror the M class perfectly. Because M22 is given as

Music—Instrumental music—One solo instrument—Keyboard instruments—Piano, harpsichord, clavichord, etc.—Original compositions—General collections—One composer

you’d find Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier there. In MP22 you’d find a Dave Brubeck Anthology, a Ben Folds album transcription, etc.

Using this new-found understanding, I returned to the M Schedule to suss out the Iron Maiden question.

M126 is given as

Music—Instrumental music—One solo instrument—Plucked instruments—Guitar—Original compositions—Collections

MP126 would be its popular equivalent — not a bad place to put individual albums’ guitar transcriptions.

M128 is given as

Music—Instrumental music—One solo instrument—Plucked instruments—Guitar—Arrangements—Collections

(emphasis mine)

MP128 therefore would be its popular equivalent. Here you would find easy arrangements of guitar music (rather than a note-for-note transcription), music not originally played on guitar arranged for it, etc.

I summoned my courage and returned to the cataloger. I argued that under that logic, Brave New World should be an MP126, for after all — it was originally played on guitar, and wasn’t a simplified arrangement.

She agreed.

And here we are today: Brave New World is an MP126, sitting right next to the other Iron Maiden albums (for guitar) on the shelf.


Friends, Family, and the Library-Staff noticed that I seemed to talk more about the library than my classes. Eventually it was pointed out to me that I could pursue that interest as a career, that I too could learn the trade and become a cataloger myself.

The road was WAY longer than I make it sound — I left Berklee in 2009 and didn’t get my first job as a cataloger until 2015, but It all started with an Iron Maiden album.