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 Alternative Vocabularies: What to do when LCSH isn't enough

Alternative Vocabularies: What to do when LCSH isn't enough2:00PM-3:00PM April 26th, 2024


Catalogers in the United States primarily use Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) to describe the resources in their libraries, but sometimes, there isn't an LCSH term that is the right fit. Sometimes, terms are too broad or too narrow; occasionally, terms are simply outdated, and unfortunately, some are pejorative. When that happens, it's time to introduce an alternative vocabulary into the cataloging workflow. This presentation will introduce four alternative subject heading vocabularies: Library of Congress Demographic Group Terms, Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus, Rare Books and Manuscripts Controlled Vocabulary, and Homosaurus. Each vocabulary will be presented with a broad overview of where it can be found, what it's particularly good at describing, and examples of what it would look like in a bibliographic record. The presentation will close with a decision tree to help catalogers decide when it might be time to look outside LCSH to describe their resources.

Learning outcomes: By the end of this session, attendees will understand the basics of using alternatives to Library of Congress Subject Headings and have the tools to make practical decisions about integrating alternative vocabularies into their cataloging workflows.


Frizzell Headshot.jpegBio: Sasha Frizzell (she/they) is the Catalog/Metadata Management Librarian at Binghamton University. Their research interests include historical alternative classification and subject heading systems. They are enthusiastic about teaching other librarians the importance of reparative and critical cataloging and metadata.

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