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Library of Congress Subject Headings. LCSH. LCSH. A major standard in library subject description      - essentially a subject authority list for subject of the book      - translates the subject into one word or a group of words representing the subject

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Library of congress subject headings

Library of Congress Subject Headings



  • A major standard in library subject description     - essentially a subject authority list for subject of the book     - translates the subject into one word or a group of words representing the subject

  • A vocabulary that provides a common thread or a set of controlled access points across disciplines      - controlled vocabulary list for subject indexing (approved subject access to bib records)

  • Based on LC’s collection

  • Used by library catalogs in general and found in:      - bibliographic utilities such as OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) and RLIN (Research Libraries Information Network)      - commercial retrieval services such as Wilson and DIALOG       - other commercial databases use controlled vocabularies adapted from LCSH for subject indexing.

Lcsh formats
LCSH Formats

  • Print Library of Congress Subject Headings

  • Sometimes called the Red Books

  • 29th ed., 2006, (5 volumes annually), $295.00 (current edition)

Lcsh formats1
LCSH Formats

  • Online

    LC AuthoritiesLC HeadingsNo Subdivisions

    Connexion's Authority FileLC HeadingSubdivisions

    • Web access via Connexion costs: 1 User $375 for 20 hrs/month1-4 Users $575 for unlimited access any timeUp to 9 Users $700

Lcsh formats online
LCSH Formats: Online

  • Advantages to Web Version:

    • Full text schedule display

    • Access to data anywhere

    • Hypertext links between classes

    • Ability to link to local OPAC

    • Search and navigation tools

    • LC/Dewey correlations

Other lcsh tools
Other LCSH Tools

In Print

  • Free-floating Subdivisions: An Alphabetical Index. 18th ed. 2006.  ($35.00 approx. 200 pages - Copy on reserve)      -list of all the words that can be used as a subdivision

  • LC's Subject Cataloging Manual. 2004 Cumulation, 5th ed.1996 ed. 3 volume set with updates. ($120.00, 4 volumes)       -provides all you need to know about subject headings


  • LC Subject Headings Weekly Lists on CPSO Web Page (Cataloging Policy and Support Office)     -changes, new headings, deletions     -good idea to assign a staff person to monitor these lists to help with maintenance of your catalog

Lcsh history
LCSH History

  • 1898 marked the advent of the new Library of Congress dictionary catalog with the integration of alphabetically arranged author, title and subject entries now known as LCSH.

  • First published in 1909 as the Subject Headings Used in the Dictionary Catalogues of the Library of Congress (later to be titled Library of Congress Subject Headings) originally issued in parts, and was completed in March 1914.

  • Throughout its history, LCSH has been a dynamic system, growing with each edition, prompt in accommodating new topics.

  • Since the mid-1980s, in order to ensure the usefulness of LCSH to the library community at large, LC invited outside libraries to contribute headings to the system; more than 125 libraries worldwide now do this through SACO, the Subject Authority Cooperative Program.

  • Currently contains slightly more than a quarter-million terms.

Lcsh principles
LCSH Principles

  • User-centered

  • Based on literary warrant and LC's collections     - Catalogers examine what is written, the terminology in use and the context in which the terms appear, and expect to demonstrate that a word or term is in general use in order to establish literary warrant.

  • Contains uniform and unique headings

  • Provides direct access to specific subjects

  • Assures stability and consistency, subject headings need to be consistent

  • Use the most specific subject heading that can be found

Lcsh terminology
LCSH Terminology

  • Scope Notes  (680 on authority record) - defines the subject heading scope & limit the scope of the heading.  (Not every heading has a scope note.)

  • UF used for              (450 AF tag number)

  • SA see also              (550)

  • BT broader term      (550)

  • NT narrower term    (550)

  • RT related term       (550)

Example print lcsh and online
Example Print LCSH and Online

  • Click here for example.

Forms of subject headings
Forms of Subject Headings 

  • Topical/form headings: most represent objects or concepts; a few represent forms or genres.  These headings can be in several different grammatical forms.  (see examples)

  • Name headings: represent individual persons, corporate bodies, places and other proper names.(see examples)

Examples topical form headings
Examples: Topical/Form Headings

  • Single-concept headings (can be single nouns)

    • Law

    • Poetry

    • Budget

  • Pre-coordinated Multiple-concept Headings

    • Commercial law

    • Biology--Scholarships, fellowships, etc.

Examples topical form headings cont d
Examples: Topical/form headings, cont’d

  • Adjectival headings

    • Juvenile literature

    • Library science

    • Law, Ancient  (Inverted adjectival)

    • Art, French (Inverted adjectival) 

  • Conjunctive-Phrase Headings or Compound Headings (joins together two or more nouns for two topics from both perspectives)

    • Literature and science

    • Public relations and law

    • Church and social problems

  • Phrase Headings  (concepts for which there no one word)

    • Figures of speech

    • Freedom of information

    • Justice, Administration of (Inverted phrases)

      (Note: Inverted headings are subordinately specific descriptions under a broad generic category.) 

Examples name headings
 Examples: Name headings

  • Personal names      Grisham, John      Athena (Greek deity)      Ching family • Corporate names      Southern Baptist Convention      Disney      Harvard University • Geographic names      Canada      Louisville (Ky.)      Bering Land Bridge National Preserve (Alaska)      Masada Site (Israel) • Other proper names      Kayan (Bornean people)      Boston Tea Party, 1773

Marc tags for lcsh
MARC Tags for LCSH

  • 600 Subject Added Entry–Personal Name 

  • 610 Subject Added Entry–Corporate Name 

  • 611 Subject Added Entry–Meeting Name 

  • 630 Subject Added Entry–Uniform Title 

  • 650 Subject Added Entry–Topical Term 

  • 651 Subject Added Entry–Geographic Name 

Indicators for lcsh
Indicators for LCSH

  • 1st indicator -  depends on the tag (SeeMARC Bibliographic RecordsVariable Fields Summary)

  • 2nd indicator - 0 (for LCSH)

Lcsh subdivisions
LCSH Subdivisions

  • Definition

    • Used when what the book is about or its form/genre is not completely conveyed in the main subject heading.

4 types of subdivisions
4 Types of Subdivisions

  • Topical |x

  • Geographic |z

  • Chronological |y

  • Form |v

Examples of lcsh subdivisions used in bibliographic records
Examples of LCSH Subdivisions Used in Bibliographic Records

  • Use of topical subdivisions: 650 _0  Roses |x Breeding. 650 _0  Roses |x Identification.

Examples of lcsh subdivisions used in bibliographic records1
Examples of LCSH Subdivisions Used in Bibliographic Records

  • Use of geographical subdivisions:650 _0  Roses |z United States. 650 _0  Roses |z Indiana.650 _0  Roses |z Indiana |z Indianapolis.

Examples of lcsh subdivisions used in bibliographic records2
Examples of LCSH Subdivisions Used in Bibliographic Records

  • Use of chronological subdivisions: Chronological subdivisions under topical headings should relate to the coverage of the content of the item and not to its date of issue.651 _0  United States |x History |y Civil War, 1861-1865. 651 _0  France |x History |y German occupation, 1914-1918.650 _0  Poetry, Modern |y 20th century.

Examples of lcsh subdivisions used in bibliographic records3
Examples of LCSH Subdivisions Used in Bibliographic Records

  • Use of form subdivisions: 650 _0  Roses |v Bibliography.  (book about roses but in the form of a bibliography)650 _0  Roses |v Dictionaries.650 _0  Roses |v Periodicals.651 _0  United States |x History |y Civil War, 1861-1865 |v Fiction.  (SH used for the title Gone With the Wind)650 _0 Corn |z Indiana |v Statistics |v Periodicals.

Form subdivisions
Form subdivisions

  • Click here for a complete list of form subdivisions.

  • NOTE: Subdivisions are generally added to a heading in this order |x, |z, |y, |v but there are exceptions.