About-ness

A challenge for me personally will be training new Project Cataloging Assistants in the… art?… science?… of subject analysis.  Having a controlled vocabulary with which to describe the subject of an item is helpful, in that it potentially eliminates too many variables in describing a subject, helping numerous individuals cataloging items and, later, individuals searching for them to do so using the same terms.  The idea is that by having a collections of preferred or approved terms, with cross references to the non-preferred terms, people can be more easily led to the same terms in describing and accessing material by subject.  Maybe it’s due to the rich complexity of the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), or maybe it’s because I often find myself having to assign subject headings to materials in on subject with which I am less familiar, but I find subject analysis the most challenging part of my own work as a cataloger.  I will admit that the thought of teaching new Project Cataloging Assistants to do subject analysis is a daunting one.  It seems like this is becoming my mantra for the project, but I’m betting I’ll learn a lot about this as I try to teach others how to do it.  18th century French legal terms, anyone?

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