Subject Headings and Purchased Cataloging
If cataloging is purchased or copied from other sources, subject headings should already be listed in the cataloging record. Often, these cataloging records are copied from MARC records provided by the Library of Congress. This usually ensures that the subject headings are accurately done and usable as they are. Cataloging staff, however, should not assume that all subject headings can just be copied without checking them. There are several reasons for double-checking headings even when you are buying or copying cataloging.
First, the subject headings may be from a different subject heading list than is being used in your library. If your library uses the Sears List of Subject Headings, you need to carefully check all purchased cataloging. The Library of Congress does include Sears headings on some of their MARC records, but most of their subject headings are LCSH. Many times the same terminology is used by both systems, but they differ often enough that having both subject heading lists used concurrently in a library may prove confusing to the patrons. It is highly recommended that a library try to use subject headings from only one list, rather than from both.
Secondly, there are some subject headings that are too specific or otherwise need to be modified for the size of the library collection. For example, with the CANCER subject heading given earlier, many of the subdivisions used would be unnecessary in a collection that only has a few books about cancer. A small library might want to eliminate all or most of the subdivisions and just have one or two points of access for that item.
A third reason for double checking subject headings would be to add headings or subdivisions that are necessary or of particular interest to the specific geographic area or the needs of the patrons of a given library. Libraries often have local collections of a historical nature, or covering a particular regional interest. Materials that fit these collections may need some additional or modified subject headings to meet the needs of the collection.
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