Use Under….What?


Several weeks ago I got my brain all fuddled around a specific subdivision

Now Melanie Polutta and Danny Joudrey set me straight about my error here, but let’s take a look at what was tripping me up:

Use as a form subdivision under names of individual religious and monastic orders and under individual religions, individual Christian denominations, classes of persons and ethnic groups for whose use the prayers are intended; under names of individual saints, deities, etc., to whom the devotions are directed; and under topical headings for prayers and devotions on those topics.

Use as a topical subdivision under names of individual religious and monastic orders and under individual religions, individual Christian denominations, classes of persons, and ethnic groups for works about prayers intended for their use; under names of individual saints, deities, etc., for works about devotions directed to them; and under topical headings for works about prayers and devotions on those topics.

That’s….an awful lot of things to divide under, right? If you made it to the end, you found “topical headings.” My error was thinking that a topical heading meant any heading, and therefore a class of person could also be a topical heading. Because after all, everything is a topic, right?

Not so!

In LCSH terms, if you’re looking for something that’s useable under any heading then you want the word: “subject”

some examples:

—Electronic information resources
Use as a topical subdivision under subjects for works about electronic information resources on those subjects.

Use as a form subdivision under subjects for lists of publications about the subject that provide information about their location, availability, etc.

—Computer games
Use as a form subdivision under subjects for computer games on those subjects.

Those can be used as subdivisions under anything in LCSH (assuming the resource actually fulfills the qualifications).

For the most part though, use of subdivisions is tightly controlled as you saw in the –Prayers and devotion example.

Before beginning to subdivide any heading, it can be really useful to ask yourself what type of heading am I trying to subdivide? Is this a class of person? A corporate body? A war?


I mentioned use of subdivisions being controlled, this is a bit of a misnomer. We talk about controlling headings all day — hit Shift+F11 in OCLC and control those headings! Turn ’em blue and feel good about yourself. But just because you’ve ‘controlled’ a heading doesn’t mean you’ve used it correctly. OCLC isn’t performing any validation beyond string matching.

Enter the 072 field.

In authority data, the 072 field is defined as:

Code for the subject category that is associated with the 1XX field in an established heading record or a node label record.

Code indicates the relative position of the heading in a particular hierarchical arrangement in the thesaurus specified by the value in the second indicator position or in subfield $2 (Code source). Field 072 is repeated for each location of the heading in a specific thesaurus and for multiple subject category codes when a heading is common to different thesauri.

the tl;dr version is this: it’s a code to indicate (to a machine) what category of subject this heading is.

As I spent some time praising LCDGT in my last post, let’s hop over to them again and show you what I mean.

072 7 $a eth $2 lcdgt
072 7 $a rel $2 lcdgt
150 $a Jews

See, those 072 fields tell us that ‘Jews’ belongs to the ‘eth’ category and the ‘rel’ category. Now because I know my LCDGT, I know that that means the Ethnic/cultural group and Religion group.

Now imagine a world where all the LCSH were coded in the 072s like that. Thanks to Galen Charlton (and his Evergreen wizardry), here’s an actual example:

072 7 $a H 1145.5 $2 lcsh
151 $a Big Round Lake (Polk County, Wis.)

H1145.5 is the memo governing “Bodies of Water”. There’s also a subdivision –Navigation which can be used as a topical subdivision under names of individual bodies of water, and it has an 073 field (the subdivision counterpart to 072):

073 $a H 1145.5 $z lcsh
180 $x Navigation

So the 072 field says to a machine, “hey I’m a body of water (or at least an H1145.5), if you’re going to subdivide me, make sure the subdivision is pH balanced for me!”

Then the 073 field would confirm or deny and the machine would deliver a helpful message to the user.

Now I know what you’re going to say, “Wow Netanel, that sounds great, and also you’re very handsome! Why doesn’t OCLC already do this?”

That’s a great question, and also I know.

One obstacle is the vast majority of LCSH headings do not have an 072, and same goes for subdivisions and 073.

I wish there were a crowd-sourcing program whereby LC has a little interface: a term pops up, you select from the list of “category types” and maybe if three independent people select the same thing, it goes into the record. I know I’d waste time helping myself and all future catalogers out by doing that.

This feels very do-able, so let’s make it happen! I want to live in the future where we say, “I controlled the headings” and it means controlled and validated.



(Ever-resourceful Galen pointed me towards this document about the PSD tackling this very task…from 2012 — the short of it is, so many of the types of headings have exceptions that they’d need human intervention for most of the headings. (my personal favorite “make sure you remember this” exception is that ‘African Americans’ is an ‘Ethnic Group (H1103)’ and ‘African American dentists’ is a ‘Class of Persons (H1100)’ and same goes for all analogous headings.) They were only going to focus on:

H1120       Names of families
H 1145.5   Bodies of water
H 1151.5   Types of educational institutions
H 1185      Religions
H 1187      Christian denominations
H 1195      Land vehicles
H 1200     Wars

I’d be very curious as to if they have any updates on the project and will contact to see)


I want to return to something I eluded to at the top of the post and perhaps danced around.

In order for full-effective use of 072/073s we’ll need to enumerate all possible values.

So here’s my question: are there types besides:

H 1100 Classes of Persons
H 1103 Ethnic Groups
H 1105 Corporate Bodies
H 1110 Names of Persons
H 1120 Names of Families
H 1140 Names of Places
H 1145.5 Bodies of Water

H 1147 Animals
H 1148 Art
H 1149 Chemicals
H 1149.5 Colonies
H 1150 Diseases
H 1151 Individual Educational Institutions
H 1151.5 Types of Educational Institutions
H 1153 Industries
H 1154 Languages
H 1154.5 Legal Topics
H 1155 Legislative Bodies
H 1155.2 Groups of Literary Authors
H 1155.6 Literary Works Entered Under Author
H 1155.8 Literary Works Entered Under Title
H 1156 Literatures
H 1158 Materials
H 1159 Military Services
H 1160 Musical Compositions
H 1161 Musical Instruments
H 1164 Organs and Regions of the Body
H 1180 Plants and Crops
H 1185 Religions
H 1186 Religious and Monastic Orders
H 1187 Christian Denominations
H 1188 Sacred Works
H 1195 Land Vehicles
H 1200 Wars

Absolutely there are!


$x Access control (May Subd Geog)
Use under types of archives, records, computers, computer networks, and statistical and data-gathering services

$x Air conditioning (May Subd Geog)
Use under types of buildings, vehicles, and other constructions.

x Digitization (May Subd Geog)
Use under types of library materials.

Therefore as part of this, we’d have to figure out what codes to use in the 072/073 if there is no specific memo for that type of heading.

Finally my biggest question of all:

What is a topical heading? Is a topical heading anything coded a 150? No, because it could be a Class of Person, or a War (for instance). It certainly can’t be a heading coded  100, 110, 111, 148, 151 or 155, so 150 is necessary but not sufficient. Is it anything which isn’t one of the other types of headings? Because if that’s the case, we really need to work on the full enumeration of what types of headings there are!


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