As always — check out the full approved list

New LCSH These Days Amirite?

A couple notes before we begin:


Proposals for new and revised genre/form terms in the disciplines of literature and religion and proposals for “general” terms are now being accepted.


Subdivisions to be added to lists of free-floating subdivisions:

H 1180, Plants and crops
$x Nomenclature (Popular)—French, [Italian, etc.]

Black lives matter movement

Black lives matter
Black lives matter

Comic books, strips, etc.–Congresses

Picture from a comic-con of a bunch of cosplayers.
I knew this would be the heading, but…no one calls a Comiccon anything remotely approaching this 

Disabilities in literature

Book cover of "Me Before You"
Content note: most disabled folks don’t appreciate this books ‘representation’

Russian American women

Regina Spektor
And youuuuuuu’ve got, tiiiiiiiiiiiiime


Smallest House in Great Britain (Conwy, Wales)

Picture of the smallest house in Great Britain
Okay, that house is pretty small.


Socialist literature

Iron Heel, by Jack London
This ain’t White Fang

Stop and frisk (Law enforcement)

End stop and frisk protest
End it.

Surveillance in motion pictures

still from Dark Knight
Don’t do it Lucius! Catching Joker isn’t worth violating all of Gotham’s civil rights!

Video music games

Braid, the video game.
Maybe it’s a metaphor for the atom bomb, maybe for Nice Guys(tm) YOU DECIDE

Wolverine hunting

Picture of Wolverine the Marvel comic character
You hunt for the king, you best not miss


Women tourists

Anna in front of a giant M&M
Viva Las Vegas

Wrestlers with disabilities

Wrestler Chris Melendez
Can you smell what Chris Melendez is cooking?


The Empiricist

I recently finished The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead. Brief summary follows if you haven’t read it [no spoilers]: In the world of elevator inspection there are two schools of thought: the well-established and long standing Empiricists, and the new and scary-to-the-mainsteam Intuitionists. The Empiricists are those which inspect elevators the traditional way (clunking around with tools and poking at the various boxes, gears, and what-not). The Intuitionists do just that — they intuit if an elevator is up to code (and if not, what’s wrong) just by standing in the elevator and riding it.

While I was reading the book, I couldn’t help but think about our little sphere of cataloging…because I always am.

Cataloging isn’t neatly divided into two schools of thought. We don’t have a wealth of schools either — as far as I can tell, there’s only one. We are the Empiricists. While there is certainly wiggle room, required vs. optional, and areas of cataloger’s judgment (or cat judge as I affectionately call it), we are a people with an incredibly long and detailed set of rules. Just today while watching a NACO training webinar (conducted by the ever talented Paul Frank), I heard that we must consult the following when determining what to record in an authority record:

  • an RDA rule
  • the LC-PCC-PS(s) for that rule
  • LC supplement guidelines for the MARC field we plan to record in
  • the DCM Z1 for that MARC field
  • maybe even the PCC homepage for the latest updates as those other resources update on quarterly schedules

That’s a lot for recording a single element.

Now maybe you’re sitting out there and gonna tell me that that isn’t cataloging-qua-cataloging, that’s just United States cataloging, or even just PCC cataloging. Sure, maybe you’re right, you probably are.

But it’s the world I live in. Participating in the national conversations, on the big stages with the fancy names means joining this world.

So I get the Empiricists: this is how examine elevators, this is how we’ve always examined elevators, and this is how we always will examine elevators. Call the next step Bibframe or call it MARC22, we’re still trying to fulfill Cutter’s objectives of the catalog from 1876.

As a recent grad of library school, I’m most comfortable talking about the traditional forms and functions of cataloging, because that’s what I know. That’s what I’ve been taught and am continuing to learn about.

But on the other side of my education, which is mostly twitter people and their blogs, I hear different views and different ideas. Some of these are completely radical and fundamentally unrelated to the ones I’ve been accepting as natural and commonsense. This is invaluable to me and I think, to cataloging.

I think we desperately need Intuitionists. We need them to break apart and challenge our assumptions of what cataloging should be. To continue the metaphor from the book, these are the people who have been traditionally barred (structurally and informally) from entering the profession.

I’m a born and bred Empiricist, “learn the rules — then apply the rules” has been a very consistent line to follow in my white upper-middle class life. Look around the room at the cataloging-section of conferences, and you may see more of the same. How can we possible ever get at the heart of how best to catalog, or inspect elevators, if we’re all coming from the same place?

A Long Overdue Post

So many things get lost to the edges. Too many commitments, too little motivation, etc. etc.

For many a moon I’ve been meaning to write up how Alex and I turned my QueerLCSH into a libGuide. I’m finally doing it!


The very first thing, of course, was the QueerLCSH itself which you can read ALL about over at that link. (Scroll past the updates for the original post and a link to the headings themselves)

Then I was alerted by Jessica Colbert that she had made a very cool LibGuide at her institution using my headings! Clicking any of the headings brings the user directly into the library catalog, performing a subject search.

Naturally I thought, “hey, why not do that here too?”

I talked to Alex about the idea and they were totally on board and excited. The question was how to turn a looooooong list of headings into a LibGuide without it being totally tedious?

As it usually is (to me), the answer was XSLT. Remember that I made my QueerLCSH by painstakingly (and tediously) downloading records 1-by-1 from as RDF/XML (MADS and SKOS). That means that I still have all the raw material to work with and transform however I want.

Alex pointed out that even if I could generate the links easily, we’d have to load those links into the LibGuide one at a time, thereby returning us to tedium land. I reached out to Springshare Support, and learned that if you upload a set of links as a database, they can then flip them to be link assets. I don’t know why that power isn’t given to users of LibGuide software, but I was glad they were willing to do it for us.

At this point we were ready for me to generate the links. I wrote the following XSLT transformation:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<xsl:stylesheet xmlns:xsl=;
    xmlns:rdf=;        xmlns:ng=;
    exclude-result-prefixes=“xs” version=“2.0”>

    <xsl:function name=“ng:norm” as=“xs:string”>
<xsl:param name=“arg” as=“xs:string”/>
<xsl:sequence select=“normalize-space(lower-case(translate($arg, ‘-.,’, ‘   ‘)))”/>

    <xsl:template match=“/rdf:RDF”>
            select=“madsrdf:Topic/madsrdf:authoritativeLabel | madsrdf:ComplexSubject/madsrdf:authoritativeLabel”>
<xsl:sort select=“ng:norm(.)”/>

    <xsl:template match=“madsrdf:authoritativeLabel”>





It’s pretty straight forward — there’s a function which I use to normalize the headings, it turns commas, periods and dashes into spaces. Then all the headings get sorted, and tossed into a big list. I’ve highlighted the most important part in bold. This is what’s called a ‘deep link’. I learned while doing this that you can’t just perform a subject search in Alma and then create a link based on that. It’ll decay eventually. You need to build a subject search using this deep link thing. Here’s some Ex Libris documentation on deep links.

As you can see there’s an “ng:norm(.)” buried in the middle of the deep link, that’s where the heading slides in. This particular link is a subject search, but it could easily be a browse search.

So this stylesheet processed all the headings and turned them into links which bring a user directly into our catalog. We tossed ’em all into an Excel spreadsheet, uploaded it to the LibGuide software, and then Springshare turned them into link assets!

Pretty cool, right?

Feel free to snag this XSLT and do the same for your institution, or if you’re interested in having something similar but aren’t sure how — let me know and I’ll try to help you out!

Some interesting things to consider:

  • We made no attempt to guarantee that any of the subject searches would actually return results. While that does mean patrons are presented with topics we don’t actually have any resources for, we couldn’t think of how to maintain the upkeep as new books entered our catalog. How would we know if new material matched a topic which we had previously removed?
  • We didn’t add any of the subject headings which were only added toLCSH for validation purposes, e.g. “African American gays–Fiction”, “Gay couples–Legal status, laws, etc” (in truth I’ve never really understood why they do that…)
  • We didn’t add any subdivisions unless the LGBT aspect was in that subdivision, i.e. “World War, 1939-1945–Participation, Gay” but not “Bisexuality — Religious aspects”. We felt that performing the subject search of the main topical term itself without the subdivisions would probably be sufficient.
  • If you do decide to include subdivisions, consider the pattern headings, ex. “Gay rights–Religious aspects–Baptists, [Catholic Church, etc.]” searching that subject string as is would be unfruitful because that isn’t how pattern headings look in the wild.
  • We opted not to include any of the Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms or Library of Congress Demographic Group Terms because in our ILS it is not possible for users to actually target a search to those fields. If it becomes possible, we’ll add ’em in!
  • Scope notes: keep ’em or not?



After the initial transformations were done, I stepped back from the project and Alex now maintains the LibGuide. They check the New LCSH each month and add any new relevant terms themselves.