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Hello there! Happy Wednesday. I have a general curiosity question. How do catalogers decide what subjects to list for a book? Is there a formula or a

Last Updated: Nov 19, 2014  |  92 Views
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Hello, Thank you for your query. Even before a book is published, an editor may work with an author to determine what topics best describe his/her work so by the time the book is ready for cataloging with a controlled vocabulary of subject headings, the cataloger has some idea what the book is based on the headings assigned by the publisher.

Once the book is published, the cataloger can enhance the bibliographic record by editing/adding/deleting subject headings according to their local cataloging practices. 

1)      General principle—Assign to the work being cataloged one or more subject headings that best summarize the contents of the work and bring to the attention of the catalog user the most important topics.

2)      The Library of Congress practice: Assign headings only for topics that comprise at least 20% of the work.

3)      Subject heading classification is a human and intellectual endeavor, where trained professionals apply topic descriptions to items in their collections using a  thesaurus (in the information science sense, a controlled vocabulary) of subject headings, maintained by the United States Library of Congress or other institutions for use in bibliographic records.

4)      Library of Congress encourages the assignment of at least one or two heading to describe a work but discourages assigning more than ten headings to a work.

I hope this helps explains your query.

SDPL staff/Catalog Section

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