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
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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