School of Information Management & Systems. Spring 2002.
245   Organization of Information in Collections   Buckland.

Assignment 6: Subject access: MELVYL Catalog. Due Feb 20.
Read the hand-out on Subject Access before doing this exercise. In subject indexes, headings for complex topics are commonly composed of multiple elements strung together by the indexer (aka "pre-coordinate indexing").
Searching is a two stage process: First find the heading(s); then find the records associated with the heading(s). The GLADIS catalog makes one go through these two stages. MELVYL allows that option with the BROWSE command to find the headings, then the SELECT to get the associated records. But more commonly people use the MELVYL "FIND" command which, in effect, performs a "BROWSE" then a "SELECT ALL" without saying so, thereby, going going through the subject headings to the records without stopping to show you what they the headings were. To see the subject headings you can either (i) Use BROWSE to display headings, e.g. BRO SW and BRO XSU, or (ii) Use a FIND search, esp. on title words (F TW ), then DISPLAY LONG or D SU [display SUbject headings] to see what is there. If you encounter "LONG SEARCH" use P for partial result.
The subject search commands:
Find Subject keyWord: F SW CRIMES retrieves all subject headings containing the word CRIMES, including, for example, WAR CRIMES -- (F SU is same as F SW)
Find eXact SUbject heading with quote marks (F XSU "WAR CRIMES") retrieves the whole subject heading exactly and nothing else, so it retrieves WAR CRIMES but not, say, WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL
Find eXact SUbject without quote marks assumes words may have been omitted at the end. So F XSU WAR CRIMES would retrieve WAR CRIMES and also WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL.

1. Sometimes the subject is not obvious. In the previous exercise you found a record for Dr. Seuss' book The Cat in the Hat include an explanatory note: "Two children sitting at home on a rainy day are visited by the Cat in the Hat who shows them some tricks and games." Without looking at the record, write down what you think a sensible subject heading (or two) would be.
Now let's see what subject headings the library catalogers assigned, using an eXact Title search.
F XT "CAT IN THE HAT" then D SU   What did you find?

2. At other times the name of the subject is in little doubt. Many books have been published about the Vietnam War, 1961-1975, in the past decade. So it should be easy to find a general, overall account of it - not a just one aspect of it.
2.1. F XSU "VIETNAM WAR" How many records are retrieved?
2.2. How many does the broader search F XSU VIETNAM WAR yield?
2.3. Shouldn't there be more than this? Take a look at the subject headings being used with BRO SU VIETNAM WAR
2.4. Does this seem really on target? Does it look complete? Try another tactic, searching on words used in titles rather than words in subject headings. Do F TW VIETNAM WAR and then do D LONG (or more conveniently D TI SU ) to see what the subject headings would seem to work best when searching MELVYL for books in the Vietnam war.
2.6. Check your choice by doing BRO XSU search using it. Comments?

3. Other times the name is not in question. Let's look for Hoopa Indians.
3.1. What do you find using BRO XSU HOOPA INDIANS
3.2. What do you find with BRO SW HOOPA INDIANS
3.3. Try F TW HOOPA INDIANS and examine subject headings using D LONG
3.4. What is the heading for this tribe? Check your hunch by doing a BRO XSU search.

4. Fields that don't describe the subject may help find relevant material, e.g. for material about the Iroquois try their language F LAN IRO

5. Some MELVYL catalog records were created more than a century ago. Obsolete (and some unorthodox) subject headings, not in the Library of Congress Subject Headings list exist, and even a few typos. MELVYL has cross-references between variant authors' names, but not yet between subject headings. There are many books on the UNITED STATES and on CALIFORNIA - and some on places not found in gazetteers. Try BRO SU CALIFRONIA or BRO SU UNTIED STATES. One can find SOIUX as well as SIOUX.   OPTIONAL: Can you find similar unusual headings?