LC Subject Headings are Dead

Though sometimes unable to keep opinions to myself at meetings (I know, you are shocked beyond compare), I generally behave myself in public. However, I have to do this at the next Reference meeting. I can picture it now. It would be more hilarious than terrifying space monkeys and more destructive than a trained ape, without the training.

On a small serious note: What is really the harm of allowing tagging? Are we afraid that a simple tagging structure might be more effective and make more sense to our users than headings that look like this “United States — History — Civil War, 1861-1865 — Participation, African American”? Are we just afraid to learn something new? What are we afraid of?

Jane, *grins a wicked grin*

5 thoughts on “LC Subject Headings are Dead

  • June 5, 2006 at 5:05 pm
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    Honestly? I think we’re afraid of having gone to grad school for nothing. The reasoning goes like this:

    1) If patrons and paraprofessionals are just as qualified as I am to make decisions about the library and its collections,

    2) Then my grad degree is worthless and I am nobody special.

    Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we’re just afraid that space monkeys will invade the planet if we abandon LC subject headings.

  • June 6, 2006 at 10:48 am
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    While I love the complexity and ensuing hilarity of LC subject headings (Moon Pies, Juvenile Fiction anyone?), they are not useful for patrons. Tag away, I say, now that we have that technology just waiting to be used.

  • June 6, 2006 at 11:27 am
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    I’ve participated in this conversation many times within the taxonomy community! I don’t know that “afraid” is the operative term ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m assuming you are talking about using tagging on a specific resource (perhaps a library OPAC or intranet).
    I find that internal and focused collections really need the structured terminology more than the enormous collection we call the World Wide Web.

    The short answer is that loose tagging is a great way to provide *additional* access points and gather potential updates to an internal controlled vocabulary. However tagging alone can muddy the results.
    (I will continue to answer on my blog)

  • June 6, 2006 at 3:14 pm
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    Jane–
    I see no reason we cannot have our cake and eat it to — by permitting user tagging to be included in full text search AND offering the subject search for those who need more precise results.

  • June 7, 2006 at 11:40 am
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    I see no reason we cannot have our cake and eat it to รขโ‚ฌโ€ by permitting user tagging to be included in full text search AND offering the subject search for those who need more precise results.

    That’s the most reasonable thing I’ve read in a long time! No need to throw out one method to add another. There might be a user out there somewhere who loves LCSH. Unlikely but possible!

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