Subject Heading Validation

Bouncing around on the PCClist:

As announced in the CDS bulletin of May 25 2007 CPSO has begun a project to create subject authority records for every subject string appearing in bibliographic records to aid Library of Congress catalogers, and external users in the validation of LCSH subject heading strings. Effective immediately subject authority records are being created for valid subject strings obtained from bibliographic records. Formerly, these subject strings did not prompt the creation of subject authority records, because they contained free-floating subdivision[s].

Some of these records are being created manually by the Cataloging Policy and Support Office staff, and some will be generated by machine, but all of them will be reviewed before distribution occurs. We anticipate at least 200 records per month at the start of this project. These records will NOT be printed in the annual editions of LCSH (the “red books”). The records can be identified by the legend “[proposed validation record]” appearing at the end of the 1xx string. This legend will be removed once the records have been approved and distributed. Additionally each record will contain a 667 field with this data: “Record generated for validation purposes.”

This is actually really cool. If you are getting a distribution of the entire subject authority file you’ll eventually be able to validate against entire subject headings rather than piecing together from individual subfields.

This also is really good from a subject cataloging point of view because we’ll be able to just pull a valid string from the file rather than saying … is this geographically subdivideable … is this one usable under a war or only animals and plants etc. A lot of individual decisions can be taken out and we can concentrate on what the book is about rather than trying to remember arcane subdivision usage rules and notes.

What isn’t clear is the source from where the subject headings will be pulled from. I’m curious if they are going to limit to the set of records that are DLC only and thus limit to DLC practice or will they include PCC records too. One reassuring things is that the individual subject headings will be subject to review. And one last point is you won’t see these headings in the weekly lists and in the red books, since really they are meant for plumbing.


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