9.541 LC categories

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Thu, 15 Feb 1996 17:06:42 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 541.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: RJOHARA@steffi.uncg.edu (26)
Subject: Library of Congress subject headings

[2] From: James O'Donnell <jod@ccat.sas.upenn.edu> (13)
Subject: Re: 9.537 LC categories

Date: Wed, 14 Feb 1996 00:03:21 -0400 (EDT)
From: RJOHARA@steffi.uncg.edu
Subject: Library of Congress subject headings

Willard asks about the usefulness of Library of Congress subject headings.
This is an interesting question. I have not used them in research per se, but
have used them in teaching, and sometimes give students a list of the subject
headings that pertain to a particular course they are taking so they will be
better able to find relevant material (and to encourage browsing).

One of my areas of interest, however, is the comparative study of the
historical sciences -- the fields that William Whewell called "palaetiology"
(historical geology, historical linguistics, evolutionary biology, textual
transmission, etc.). As an exercise I once put together a fairly
comprehensive listing of the various LC headings that pertain to the
historical sciences as a way of showing the practical obstacles (one might
say) that stand in the way of studying these fields as a unified group. In
other words, if you are interested in "historical reconstruction" as a general
notion you will find material scattered through the entire LC classification,
from natural history (QH) to historical chronology (D11) to textual criticism
(P47) to historical geography (G141). This is not particularly surprising,
but what it illustrates nicely is how the LC classification reflects certain
assumptions about what fields go together and how they go together. One can
imagine that these assumptions might conceivably stand in the way of someone
trying to make a non-obvious interdisciplinary connection.

The list of LC subject headings relating to the historical sciences
is available for browsing on the Files page of the Darwin-L Web Server

Robert J. O'Hara (rjohara@iris.uncg.edu)
Cornelia Strong College, 100 Foust Building
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A.

Date: Tue, 13 Feb 1996 20:05:11 -0500 (EST)
From: James O'Donnell <jod@ccat.sas.upenn.edu>
Subject: Re: 9.537 LC categories

I do not use LC categories much, finding keyword searching more flexible
and enjoying the benefit that on our system, keyword searching gives you
results in a reverse chronological order so that you can review newer
work first. But I would caution users against assuming that what you see
is a function of the records. Existing on-line public access catalogues
are for the most part 80s technology. A new generation of software,
mainly unix-based client-server stuff, will be coming onstream in our
major libraries in the next year or two, and this will have profound
effect on our searching -- characteristically, we will be able to ask
more and more flexible questions, and my guess is that all those elements
in the MARC record will get new power from the new software.

Jim O'Donnell
Classics, U. of Penn