The process of cataloging involves two major activities, viz. Descriptive Cataloging and Subject Cataloging. For descriptive cataloging a popular standards was there in the form of Anglo-American Cataloging Rules (AACR), but for subject cataloging there was no formal code of rules comparable to Anglo-American Cataloging Rules (AACR). In 1984, in response to the expressed need of the library community for a guide to subject cataloging, the Library of Congress began publishing its internal instructions for subject cataloging in Subject Cataloging Manual: Subject Headings. A "preliminary edition" of the Subject Cataloging Manual: Subject Headings was published in 1984, a "revised edition" in 1985, the third edition in 1988, the fourth in 1991, and the fifth in 1996. The fourth and fifth editions were updated semiannually during the years 1991-2008. For this 2008 edition, the title has been changed to Subject Headings Manual (SHM). The text is essentially a recompilation of the text of the fifth edition with minor revisions and updates that have been made since the publication of the final update to the fifth edition, which was published in spring 2008.
LCSH, presently in 37th edition (2015) should be used with several auxiliary aids. Most important of these is the Subject Headings Manual (SHM). The Manual contains the same instructions used by subject catalogers at the Library of Congress in their daily work. Although some of the instructions describe internal Library of Congress procedures, most of them are essential for those who wish to understand and to apply Library of Congress Subject Headings correctly.
The rules for constructing and assigning LCSH heading are contained in two sources: the introduction to LCSH and the Subject Headings Manual (SHM), both available online from the Library of Congress website. Based on these guidelines LCSH has provision for the construction of pre-coordinated indexing strings including headings, plus rules for combining the single terms in strings and one or more levels of subheading. Based on these rules a subject heading may also be subdivided by the addition of form subdivisions, geographical subdivisions, chronological subdivisions, and topical subdivisions to add greater specificity. In a MARC bibliographic record Subject Heading is given in a 6XX field, consisting of either a single element in an $a subfield or of an $a subfield followed by subdivisions in $v, $x, $y, and/or $z subfields, that designates what a work is or what it is about.
In recognition of the fact that the manual continues to serve as an important tool for Library of Congress catalogers, and that users outside the Library of Congress now constitute an ever larger audience, a survey was conducted by a task group of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging in 1994-95 to solicit ideas for improvements to the manual. Suggestions from that survey were incorporated into the fifth edition of the manual and are carried over into this 2008 edition. The most significant of these include the following:
- Examples are presented in most cases with full MARC 21 content designation.
- Boldface paragraph titles have been added to the individual sections within each instruction sheet to make it possible to locate specific policies or instructions more quickly and easily.
- Many instruction sheets have been expanded, reorganized, and rewritten for greater clarity.
- New instruction sheets have been added, covering such topics as chronological subdivisions, mergers and splits of jurisdictions, artistic photography, cooking and cookbooks, databases, electronic serials, and the subdivision —Songs and music
- Instruction sheets have been added that provide summaries of cataloging procedures in the field of music and literature.
- The general instruction sheet on assigning and constructing subject headings has been revised and expanded, and a new introductory instruction sheet on subdivisions has been added.
- Many cataloging practices that had been observed at the Library of Congress as part of its "oral tradition" are now documented in writing for the first time.
- The general lists of free-floating subdivision (H 1095-H 1140) now include references to other instruction sheets that explain the use of individual subdivisions.
- Form subdivisions are explicitly identified as such in all lists of free-floating subdivisions.
- Where possible, procedures that apply specifically and only to Library of Congress staff have been identified with the caption "LC practice:," enabling other users to ignore the section that follows if they wish.
- Where possible, more generic language has been substituted for language that in previous editions was meaningful only to Library of Congress staff.
The print-ready PDF files for the Library of Congress Subject Headings Manual (SHM) are available from the Library of Congress website. Links to SHM files can also be had from Cataloger's Reference Directory of RDA Blog.
This data is updated as changes are approved. Because of steadily declining demand and increasing printing costs, SHM is being made available as free downloadable PDF files. For users desiring enhanced functionality, SHM will continue as part of the web-based subscription product, Cataloger's Desktop.
Note: This description is chiefly based on information from Library of Congress.
- What is Subject Headings Manual (SHM)?
- What is history of Subject Headings Manual (SHM)?
- What is the cost of Subject Headings Manual (SHM)?
- How SHM is revised?
- Where can we get free SHM?
- How to give LCSH in a bibliographic record according to international standards?
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LINKS & REFERENCE IN WEBSITES BLOGS ETC.
- BAsel Register of Thesauri, Ontologies & Classifications : A multilingual, interdisciplinary database for Knowledge Organization Systems [University of Basel, Switzerland]
- MERLOT - the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning Online and Teaching [MERLOT is a program of the California State University System partnering with education institutions, professional societies, and industry]
- The Horn of Africa Research and Knowledge Exchange Platform : HAREP
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