Dividing Palestine

As always this is no substitute for reading memo H 0980 in full.


May Subd Geog

Three little words that appear on numerous headings in LCSH — they indicate that if the resource requires it, you may add geographic subdivisions to that heading.

For the most part, that’s fairly easy to do: you look up the form of the name of the country, region, city, etc. — toss it into a $z and call it a day. (I’ll probably end up doing a post on H 830-H 870 for the finer points of that process, but this post isn’t about the details.)

But in my work, I catalog many resources which need to be geographically subdivided by Israel, Palestine, or various cities/regions contained therein. Suddenly the phrase ‘May Subd Geog’ takes on a whole new meaning.

Is there a part of the world whose geographic subdivisions are more fraught, are more contentious, have cost more lives than this one? Maybe, I’m no historian — but it must be high up on the list. Yet we have to do it, and its impractical to add notes to every record explaining the history of the region, the governments in control, and their geopolitical statuses.

So the H 980 memo provides detailed instructions to us, the catalogers, on which terms to use for which regions in geographic headings. Note that the general public has almost certainly not read that memo, and all too often it seems catalogers haven’t read that memo because I encounter (and correct) improper subdivisions all the time.

The reason I’m jumping ahead in fact is because I found a few errors recently and received some support on twitter for doing so.

I don’t suggest that this memo is ‘correct’, or endorse all of its contents. I shall try to relate the decisions it contains, and add some commentary. But first — the rules themselves:

Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, and West Bank — are assigned without interposing a larger geographic entity.

Any topic which may be geographically subdivided, (if applicable to the resource of course), may have one of these headings placed directly after it.

650 #0 $a Law $z Gaza Strip.
650 #0 $a Land settlement $z Golan Heights.
650 #0 $a City planning $z Jerusalem.
650 #0 $a Public health $z West Bank.

This is important because of its implications. As a general rule, geographic subdivision always begins at the country level then may proceed to a smaller region/city level. Any exceptions to this rule are very specific and laid out clearly. To my reading, this exception has been made as one those ‘no one’s happy’ compromises.

Israel considers Jerusalem as its undivided capital city. The State of Palestine considers East Jerusalem as its capital. (And this was also recognized in 2012 by 138 member countries of the UN). Yet Jerusalem, in the NAF, and as instructed here — does not ‘belong’ to any country. We divide directly to it as a subdivision, and it stands unqualified in a 651.


651 #0 $a Jerusalem $v Aerial views


651 #0 $a Jerusalem (Israel) $v Aerial views


651 #0 $a Jerusalem (Palestine) $v Aerial views


I have no insight into the history of these memos or decisions, if one of you brilliant readers knows of documentation on the editorial meetings that must’ve taken place prior to the writing/codifying of these memos — I’d be indebted to you and go read them!

So instead I’m left with idle speculation and careful assumptions. I can’t say that LC was trying to avoid taking a position on the geo-political status of Jerusalem or the other regions, but it sure seems that way. Though as the wise Rush teaches us —

“If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice”

Cataloging isn’t neutral, and we are inevitably taking positions with our cataloging. Saying that Jerusalem doesn’t have a particular and unique country-of-belonging is a political statement.

The same applies to the Golan Heights with respect to Syria and Israel, and it’s treated the same as Jerusalem in LCSH — it belongs to no specific country.

What’s interesting (to me at least) about the Gaza Strip and the West Bank’s treatment, is that by near universal agreement, these are part of the State of Palestine. Even Israel does not consider them part of Israel, and has (more or less) recognized their right to self-govern. So why are they not divided through by $z Palestine? This brings us to the second big ruling of the memo:

For LCSH purposes, Palestine means the entirety of the region past and present.

This is where things get tricky. Increasingly in international discourse, ‘Palestine’ as a term is used to mean the State of Palestine. Yet, LCSH uses it to mean all of Israel + State of Palestine as both a historical region and a modern day geographic region. I don’t dispute that its useful to have a term to encompass the entire region, particularly because there’s so much of history that doesn’t divide it into those two specific modern nations. But because of the term they chose for that, and its easy confluence with the current country — it gets misapplied all the time.

So repeating for those in the back:

  • When your resource is about the post-1948 State of Palestine divide geographically by Jerusalem, West Bank,  and/or Gaza Strip.
  • When your resource is about the entirety of the region, past or present — divide by Palestine.
  • When your resource is about the post-1948 State of Israel, divide geographically by Jerusalem and/or Israel.

The final big rule from the memo:

Palestinian National Authority is a governmental entity coded 151

We are to assign it to works about the government of the State of Palestine and any headings which are appropriate for use under the name of a governmental entity may be used under it. Do not use it to indicate any specific geographic region.


I may write more about Palestine/Israel, goddess knows I’ve already written much — particularly with regards to its classification and appearance in other places in other LCSH headings, but this covers the H 980 memo.

Subject Headings Manual – Index

An index to my posts on the Subject Headings Manual

H 0040 Library of Congress Subject Authority Records
H 0080 Order of Subject Headings

H 0150 Partial Title Added Entries
H 0160 Uncontrolled Subject Terms in the 653 Field
H 0165 Subject Heading Changes in Bibliographic Records
H 0170 CONSER & BIBCO Standard Records
H 0175 Editions
H 0178 Serials
H 0180 Assigning and Constructing Subject Headings
H 0181 Arabic/Persian Subject Headings
H 0182 Chinese/Japanese/Korean Subject Headings
H 0184 Subject Headings Identical to Descriptive Access Points
H 0187 When to Establish a New Topical Heading
H 0193 Changing a Heading or Deleting a Subject Authority Record
H 0193.5 Deleted Heading Information
H 0194 Providing for Geographic Subdivision of Existing Subject Headings
H 0195 Changing References in Subject Authority Records
H 0196 Changing Class Numbers in Subject Authority Records

H 0200 Preparation of Subject Heading Proposals
H 0202 Authority Research for Subject Heading Proposals
H 0203 Citation of Sources
H 0205 Establishing New Subdivisions Having General Application
H 0250 Music Heading Authority Records
H 0285 Singular vs. Plural Forms in Subject Headings
H 0290 Articles in the Initial Position

H 0306 Natural Language in Topical Subject Headings
H 0310 [ . . . ] and [ . . . ]Headings
H 0315 Foreign Terms
H 0320 Headings Qualified by Nationality, Ethnic Group, Language, etc.
H 0350 Nationality Designation of Classes of Persons
H 0351 Ethnic Qualifiers
H 0357 Parenthetical Qualifiers in Subject Headings
H 0360 [ . . . ] as [ . . . ]Headings
H 0362 Free-Floating Terms and Phrases
H 0364 Authorization for Geographic Subdivision
H 0365 Library of Congress Classification Numbers in Subject Authority Records
H 0370 Broader Terms, Narrower Terms, and Related Terms
H 0371 General See Also References
H 0373 “Used for” References
H 0374 General See References
H 0375 [Topic]C[Place] Broader Term References

H 0400 Scope Notes
H 0405 Establishing Certain Entities in the Name or Subject Authority File
H 0430 Name Headings as Subjects
H 0432 Subject Usage Information in Name Authority Records
H 0436 Provisional Name Headings
H 0460 Name Changes in Non-Jurisdictional Corporate Bodies
H 0475 Subdividing Corporate Name Headings by Place

H 0620 Chronological Headings and Subdivision
H 0690 Formulating Geographic Headings

H 0708 Linear Jurisdictional Name Changes in Name Authority Records
H 0710 Jurisdictional Mergers and Splits
H 0713 First Order Political Divisions of Countries
H 0715 Extinct Cities
H 0720 City Sections
H 0760 Geographic Regions
H 0790 Areas Associated with Cities

H 0800 Rivers, Valleys, Watersheds, etc.
H 0807 Islands
H 0810 Qualification of Geographic Headings
H 0830 Geographic Subdivision
H 0832 Geographic Subdivision to the City Level
H 0835 Geographic Subdivision Information in Name Authority Records
H 0836 Geographic Subdivision Information in Subject Authority Records
H 0860 Subdivisions Further Subdivided by Place
H 0870 Interposition of Geographic Subdivisions

H 0910 Place as a Theme in Art, Literature, Motion Pictures, etc.
H 0925 China and Taiwan
H 0928 Congo
H 0945 Germany
H 0955 Great Britain
H 0975 Hawaii
H 0978 Hong Kong
H 0980 Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, West Bank, and Palestine
H 0985 Latin America
H 0987 Malaysia and Malaya
H 0990 New York (N.Y.)

H 1023 Soviet Union
H 1045 Vatican City
H 1050 Washington (D.C.)
H 1055 Yugoslavia
H 1075 Subdivisions
H 1078 Dates in Subdivisions for Specific Events
H 1090 Multiple Subdivisions
H 1095 Free-floating subdivisions
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 1146 Subdivisions Controlled by Pattern Headings
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
H 1205 Abstracts
H 1206.5 Acronyms
H 1210 Addresses, Essays, Lectures
H 1210.5 Aerial and Space Photography
H 1211 Airports
H 1223 Arabs
H 1225 Archaeological Works
H 1230 Archives and Archival Resources
H 1250 Art and Fine Art
H 1255 Artistic Photography
H 1265 Awards
H 1285 Battles
H 1295 Bible: Special Topics

H 1300 Bible and Other Sacred Works
H 1322 Bibliographies about Individual Persons
H 1325 Bibliography of Bibliographies
H 1328 Bio-bibliography
H 1330 Biography
H 1332 Biological Names
H 1333 Books and Reading
H 1333.5 Boundaries
H 1334 Buildings and Other Structures
H 1334.5 Buildings and Structures in Cities: Assignment of Headings
H 1350 Case Studies and Cases
H 1360 Catalogs
H 1361 Catalogs of Library Materials
H 1365 Cemeteries
H 1366 Census
H 1366.5 Choreographic Works
H 1367 Chronology
H 1370 Civilization

H 1412 Classical and Ancient Works
H 1425 Collected Works and Collections
H 1427 Collections of Objects
H 1430 Comics and Comic Characters
H 1435 Commentaries on Individual Works
H 1438 Composers and Works about Music of Individual Composers
H 1460 Congresses
H 1465 Constitutions
H 1468 Contracts
H 1472 Controversial Literature
H 1475 Cooking and Cookbooks
H 1480 Correspondence of Individual Persons

H 1510 Cross-Cultural Studies
H 1520 Databases
H 1530 Description and Travel
H 1532 Design and Construction
H 1538 Diaries
H 1540 Dictionaries
H 1550 Digests
H 1558 Directories
H 1560 Disasters, Riots, Demonstrations, etc.
H 1564 Discovery and Exploration
H 1570 Dissertations and Theses
H 1572 Dwellings with Extensive Grounds
H 1574 Dynasties, Royal Houses, etc.
H 1576 Early Works
H 1578 Economic Conditions
H 1579 Education
H 1580 Effect of One Topic on Another
H 1580.5 Electronic Serials
H 1581 Emigration and Immigration
H 1591 Evaluation
H 1592 Events
H 1593 Exhibitions
H 1595 Facsimiles

H 1600 Festschriften
H 1610 Fictitious Characters
H 1624 Finance
H 1627 Folklore
H 1628 Forecasting
H 1629 Foreign Relations
H 1630 Gazetteers
H 1631 Genealogy and Family Names
H 1635 Gods and Mythological Figures
H 1636 Gods of Greek and Roman Mythology
H 1642 Government Policy
H 1643 Government Publications
H 1645 Guidebooks
H 1646 Handbooks, Manuals, etc.
H 1647 History
H 1659 Illustrations
H 1660 Imprints
H 1670 Indexes
H 1673 Industries Based on Products
H 1675 Influence of One Topic on Another
H 1675.5 Information Services
H 1676 Inquisition
H 1676.5 Inspection
H 1678 Interviews
H 1680 Islam
H 1690 Juvenile Materials

H 1705 Legal Materials: Law and Legislation and Other Subdivisions
H 1710 Legal Materials: Legal Research
H 1715 Legal Materials: Legislation
H 1718 Legal Materials: Systems of Law
H 1720 Legends and Stories about Animals
H 1775 Literature: General
H 1780 Literature: Drama
H 1790 Literature: Fiction
H 1795 Literature: Legends and Romances

H 1800 Literature: Poetry
H 1828 Literature from One Place in Multiple Languages
H 1845 Local History and Genealogical Source Materials
H 1848 Longitudinal Studies
H 1855 Manuscripts
H 1865 Maps and Atlases
H 1870 Marketing
H 1890 Mental Health and Mental Health Services
H 1893 Microforms
H 1895 Miniature Books

H 1910 Miscellanea
H 1913 Moving Image Genre/Form Terms
H 1916 Museums
H 1916.3 Music: General
H 1916.5 Music: Jazz and Popular Music
H 1917 Music of Ethnic, National, and Religious Groups
H 1917.5 Music Form/Genre Headings: Medium of Performance
H 1918 Musical Instruments
H 1919 Name and Names
H 1919.5 Nationalities
H 1920 Newspapers on Special Topics and Ethnic Newspapers
H 1925 Parks, Reserves, National Monuments, etc.
H 1927 Periodicals
H 1928 Personal Narratives
H 1929 Philosophy
H 1935 Pictorial Works
H 1942 Politics and Government
H 1943.5 Popular Works
H 1945 Postage Stamps on Specific Topics
H 1945.5 Posters
H 1949 Professional Ethics
H 1955 Public Opinion
H 1965 Publishers’ Catalogs
H 1969 Quotations and Maxims
H 1969.5 Radio Genre/Form Terms
H 1970 Railroads
H 1975 Readers
H 1980 Reference Books
H 1995 Regimental Histories
H 1996 Relations and Military Relations
H 1997 Religion
H 1998 Religious Aspects of Topics

H 2015 Religious Denominations or Religions as Subdivisions
H 2015.5 Religious Life
H 2016 Religious Life and Customs
H 2020 Research
H 2021 Reviews
H 2032 Sermons
H 2040 Simulation Methods in Special Fields
H 2055 Social Conditions
H 2057 Social Life and Customs
H 2060 Societies
H 2070 Software and Works about Software
H 2075 Songs and Music
H 2080 Sources
H 2083 Specifications
H 2095 Statistics
H 2098 Streets and Roads

H 2100 Strikes and Lockouts
H 2110 Study and Teaching
H 2145 Supplementary Works
H 2149 Surveys
H 2160 Tables
H 2184 Terms and Phrases
H 2185 Territories and Possessions
H 2187 Textbooks
H 2190 Texts

H 2217 Training
H 2219 Translating
H 2220 Translations
H 2225 Transportation
H 2227 Treaties
H 2228 Trials
H 2230 Visual Materials and Non-Music Sound Recordings
H 2232 Vocational Guidance
H 2400; Glossary and Appendices
H 2400 Yearbooks
Appendix A Abbreviations
Appendix B Capitalization
Appendix C Diacritics and Special Characters
Appendix D Punctuation
Appendix E Geographic Area Codes
Appendix F Subject-Related Codes in Field 008 – Books
Appendix G Subject-Related Codes in Field 008 – Continuing Resources (Serials)

Subject Headings Manual – Part 2 – It’s LC’s World

See the title — It’s LC’s World, and we just play in it.

While mostly tongue in cheek, they are open to input from the public (and with a bit of prodding and nudging, you too can ever participate in the process!), the fact remains that it’s the Library of Congress’ subject headings, and the Library of Congress’ manual.

The headings are intended to be used by their catalogers, and the manual is there to help guide those catalogers in the headings use.

What this means in practice is that there are a lot of times in reading the memos that you’ll come across specific instructions on reporting or changing a heading which only makes sense if you work at the library of congress.

An example of this can be found in Memo H 165 which includes instructions on when to change headings in bibliographic records. None of these instructions apply to you at your institution with your ILS. They’re specifically for LC catalogers using the LC ILS.

Sure, you may want to glance at the memo, and perhaps incorporate some equivalent instructions in your local policy, but some of the instructions really are so specific as not apply more widely, unless you institution happens to use the same “Database Maintenance Request Form” (it doesn’t.)

Anyway — just a good reminder to start us off. There’s a lot to be learned from the memos, and deeper dives into it will make all our subject cataloging better and more consistent. But important to keep in mind: It’s LC’s vocab, and LC’s manual. Read it with that grain of salt, because while we can agitate for change, it serves a greater function than what we want.

Subject Headings Manual – Part 1 – Introduction

The Subject Headings Manual, The SHM, The Big Beige Book, The Dense Detailed Document, The Ten-Ton Tome.

It has many names (and I made up most of those, I have no idea what color [if any] it came in) but maybe we aren’t using those names enough. As pointed out by Erin Leach in her post, while there are books critiquing the Library of Congress Subject Headings (hereafter, LCSH), and blog-posts upon #CritLib discussions upon novelty twitter accounts, about LCSH — there are comparatively few works about the Subject Headings Manual.

I get this. LCSH is easy to access, and quick to scan. It can be bizarre, funny, and blazingly insensitive. However, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum, far from it — it can’t exist on its own. LCSH is just a list of words, sure it’s a long list, but it’s still just a list. There are occasional scope notes, never as often as we’d like, telling us how a certain term is to be applied, but LCSH doesn’t say anything itself about how to use the vocabulary.

Enter the Subject Headings Manual (hereafter SHM).

It contains memos…many memos.

Every wondered how to apply headings to literature? Better check the six memos covering literature.

There are memos on how to assign and construct headings in the general sense and in very specific senses, memos on specific languages in headings, memos on geographic headings in general and memos on specific regions/cities. There are memos for applying headings to certain groups/types of things and lists of available subdivisions for those groups. There are memos on specific subdivisions detailing their use. There’s a glossary and oh yes indeed — seven appendices.

Critiquing and criticizing LCSH is important, but it can’t be the whole picture. LCSH may be the ‘what’, but the SHM is the ‘how’ and ‘why’, and we’re going to start digging in.

Stay tuned.



As readers of this blog will attest, I don’t have a good track record for completing all my series’ that begin with “Part 1”. I’m trying to be less ambitious here and do not plan to actually write a post for every memo in the SHM.