A Faceted LCSH? A Non-Proposal Proposal

I know what you’re thinking, ‘Faceted LCSH’? Netanel! We already have that it’s called FAST and its main purpose is to confuse new catalogers who encounter seemingly duplicate headings in their copy-cataloging work.

(I kid, I kid, OCLC–we all love FAST please don’t come for me)


This is not a proposal to replace LCSH with a faceted subject terminology, rather it’s me musing on something that’s been in the back of my head since my deep dive into the LCDGT, and then came even farther towards the front of my head through increased tangling with LCSH proposals.


So what the heck am I talking about?

Well the other day, I noticed that there was no ‘African American sexual minorities’ as an LCSH term. So I wrote up the proposal and submitted it.

But I started thinking about LCDGT again. This is an excerpt from the manual, L 485 (emphasis mine)

If a creator self-identifies as belonging to a group that
includes several discrete elements, assign a separate term for each element that will be useful for discovery purposes. Example:
An author who self-identifies as a lesbian teenager. Assign the terms
Lesbians and Teenagers.


Now in our old friend, LCSH we of course have the specific term, “Lesbian teenagers” as well as the more general terms “Lesbians” and “Teenagers“. But I started thinking about the flexibility if our cataloging rules let us assign this way in subjects settings.

Because here’s the thing. Sometimes the resource in hand is about “Gay flight attendants“, well great — LCSH has you covered! But what if your resource is about African American flight attendants? No dice, that’s not a term…yet. You’d have to spend the time (and have had the training) to create it, wait for months to hear back, and even then maybe you messed it up and need to resubmit.

But we already have the terms ‘African Americans‘ and ‘Flight attendants‘! You could assign both and move onto the next resource to be cataloged.

The fact is LCSH suffers from some bloat in that the ‘classes of person’, ‘occupations’, and ‘age groups’ (yes the very same groups identified by LCDGT) end up crossing and recrossing with each other to create new terms and each term requires its own authority record and research for proposals and time for the PSD to approve.

Another advantage of allowing us to assign terms like the LCDGT is that it would eliminate some of the inconsistencies (every cataloger’s bane) found in LCSH.

Take “Gay youth” and “Young gay men” for example — one uses ‘youth’ the other uses ‘young’. Under this modification one would be the array of:

  • Gays
  • Young adults

and the other assigned:

  • Gays
  • Young adults
  • Men

This way you drop the inconsistency over “youth” vs. “young” as well as the inconsistent ordering of terms.

Anyway — this isn’t a formal proposal, because I haven’t thought it all the way through to the inevitable problems, just something to think about.


One thought on “A Faceted LCSH? A Non-Proposal Proposal

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s