School of Information Management & Systems. Spring 2003.
Information in Collections.
Assignment 8: Social Aspects of Naming.
Due Mar 5.
Naming and labelling do more than assign a neutral "objective"
identification. Naming tends also to describe.
Naming tends to categorize. To name is to "frame".
Naming is descriptive, often deliberately so,
done to achieve an effect.
Naming reflects the perspective
adopted, consciously or unconsciously, by whoever does the naming.
So examination of naming can provide insight
into the perspectives, attitudes, and values
of those who do the naming.
Topics in websites, catalogs, and in bibliographies are
designed to be accurately and easily meaningful
for the population to be served. Topic names are assigned
purposefully, and systematically, and so reflect the
mentality and language of their time, origin, and purpose.
Headings also tend to be
kept relatively stable for
consistency and economy (since revision is difficult and expensive)
and so they also tend to reflect the
mentality of past decades, not always reflecting changes in social
attitudes and in language.
A classic work on this topic is Sanford Berman's
Antipathies: A Tract on the LC Subject
Headings Concerning People. (1971 and an essentially unchanged
1993 edition). A copy of each is in MAIN at
Z695.U36.B45 and I will put my own copy in the
Computer Lab. Another copy close by is in the CES section of the Ethnic Studies
Library in Stephens Hall. Copies may well be found in other libraries.
"LC" refers to the Library
of Congress, whose list of some 200,000 subject headings
(plus some 200,000 cross-references) is used,
largely unchanged, by most large
1. Spend at 30 minutes with Berman's book, reading the
"Introduction" and scanning the rest.
2. Pick one or more examples of subject headings that interest you.
3. Find a copy of the Library of Congress Subject Headings
(LCSH), large fat red volumes kept near the
online catalog terminals in campus libraries. (Ask staff if you
don't see it.) There are copies in MAIN Z695.U4749 and in the South Hall
210 (Computer Lab).
Later is better, but any edition 1990 or later will do.
4. Read the "Introduction" to LCSH.
5. Look up your
example(s). Have they been changed. If so, what to?
6. Look in the MELVYL catalog to see what subject headings
have been used.
EXPLAIN DATE and EXPLAIN SET DATE help one search different time periods of
SET DATE RECENT (= last 10 years) is
a convenient way to see
changes since Berman's book. Usually one needs to get back before
1960 to find much contrast with the present (Do EXP DATE for
options, e.g. AND DATE 1950-1952 ).
I have placed a 1968 edition of the LCSH in the Computer Lab.
(In it, x means See; xx means See also.)
Try BROWSE XSU [whatever] to find subject
headings starting exactly as you
specify. Use BROWSE SW [whatever] to find subject headings
containing what you specify.
Try searching for titles
containing words that interest you (F TW
[word]), then use DISPLAY LONG (or D SU) to see
what Subject Headings were used.
Although MELVYL CATALOG subject headings normally conform
to LCSH, they contain numerous
non-standard and obsolete subject headings.
D TI SU DP -- Displaying
TItle, SUbject headings and Date of
Publication -- is a convenient way of picking relating contemporary
word usage (title) and LC Subject Headings for any given date,
but assumes the catalog record was made near the publication date,
which may not be the case.
5. Briefly summarze what you found.
Add any comments. (1 - 2
6. Hand in your summary and be ready to talk about it
Examples should be
socially sensitive where terminology changes.
A reliable source of old LC Subject Headings is:
Library of Congress Catalog -- Books: Subjects.
MAIN Stacks Z733U57C234 1950/54; 1955/59; 1960/64/; 1965/69;
1970/74; then annually 1975-1982.
Also in Library of Congress Catalog -- Pre-1956 Imprints.
Z733.U57.C22556, arranged by main entry, some cards have LCSH.
(See Old LCSH.)
Optional extra: Look at other aged indexes. The
The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature
because it uses LCSH-like subject headings and,
in the paper version, one can see how subject
headings changed by decade from 1900.
Green volumes in MAIN Humanities
& Area Studies reading room AJ3 .R4 (on the top shelf on the west side of
the westernmost center shelves) and in MOFFITT Reference AJ3 .R4 (in corner on
right behind reference desk).