Critical Cataloging: Examining LCSH as Text: A Visualization by Mia Tignor

Critical Cataloging: Examining LCSH as Text

There has been a significant body of research devoted to the structure and often problematic nature of Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). LCSH is a controlled vocabulary used to organize materials about a specific subject under one heading in order to facilitate user searches, but many critics have highlighted the fact that LCSH subject headings are not neutral, and in fact often enforce “dominant ideas about bodies and identities”, in this case those of “white, propertied, Protestant men” (Adler, 2016, p. 632). Beginning in earnest in the 1970s, ‘critical catalogers’ like Sanford Berman and Hope Olson have advocated for the changing of racist, sexist, and homophobic subject headings, but critical theorists also worry that ‘fixing’ the subject headings obscures the ideologies that are the very foundations to LCSH (Adler, 2013; Drabinski, 2013). In addition, there is little focus on LCSH as text outside the field of knowledge organization (KO) and there is a lack of understanding of how subject headings are created and/or changed (Adler, 2013; Koford, 2017; & Drabinski, 2013). The above timeline takes Sanford Berman's classic work Prejudices and Antipathies, published in 1971, and visualizes the changes he suggested. Navigate through the timeline to see the temporal progression of LCSH changes and to uncover more detailed visualizations. 

Contents of this path: