Profession/occupation terms in field 374

Adam Schiff (University of Washington) has started an interesting discussion on PCCLIST on the use in field 374 of LCSH terms that include elements other than occupation profession.  Among the examples he cites:

374    Women physicians ǂa Surgeons ǂ2 lcsh

374    African American political activists ǂ2 lcsh

374    Women translators ǂa Women missionaries ǂ2 lcsh

374    African American women singers ǂ2 lcsh

374    Mexican American musicians ǂ2 lcsh

374    Authors, Canadian ǂ2 lcsh

374    Hockey players ǂa Athletes ǂa Authors ǂa Jewish authors ǂ2 lcsh

374    Gay journalists ǂ2 lcsh

Adam continues:

If you haven’t figured out my peeve yet, it’s the inclusion of gender, religion, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. in profession/occupation terms recorded in this field.    One does not go to school to study to be a woman physician or an African American poet or a gay journalist or Canadian author.  Including qualifying terms serves to segregate people of the same occupation, and I don’t think this is a good thing in authority records.  Why should women composers be labeled differently from men composers?   Shouldn’t all poets be grouped together under a single term?

Gender already has a separate field (375) that can be recorded in authority records.  If catalogers feel that religion, nationality, ethnicity or other characteristics are important to record there IS a place for it in the MARC format:

MARC field 368 (Other Attributes of Person or Corporate Body), subfield $c (Other designation).   While RDA doesn’t include provisions for recording religion, national, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or other characteristics not included elsewhere in RDA instructions, 368 $c can be used for this, and has already been by some catalogers …

Besides being a reminder of good practice in constructing authority records, Adam’s post and the many thoughtful replies invite reflection on the varied uses of LCSH, including uses that no one could have conceived of when LC began compiling its subject headings in the 1890s.

The point has also been raised in the PCCLIST discussion that LCSH is not the only controlled vocabulary that can be used for 374 terms.  Library of Congress Demographic Group Terms (LCDGT) is mentioned as a possible alternative.  (For information about the LCDGT project, see LC’s Library of Congress Demographic Group Terms: Introduction and Guiding Principles for the Pilot.  Finding a copy of the terms themselves has been more of a challenge, but you might find this PDF helpful.

In practice, I expect most of us who create and edit authority records, especially most of us in general libraries in the NACO program, will continue to use LCSH terms in field 374 for the foreseeable future.  We should just remember when we do so that we are applying the terminology for a different purpose than when we assign subject headings to a bibliographic record, and that we need to use terms conveying only the facet of profession/occupation.


More on the proposal to replace LCSH “Aliens” and “Illegal aliens”

Janis L. Young of the Policy and Standards Division, Library of Congress, has posted the following to several discussion lists:

In response to requests from constituents who consider the phrase illegal aliens to be pejorative and disappearing from common use, the Policy and Standards Division of the Library of Congress, which maintains Library of Congress Subject Headings, has proposed that the headings Aliens and Illegal aliens both be replaced.

If approved, the heading Aliens will be replaced by Noncitizens, which is currently a Used For (UF) reference to Aliens. Illegal aliens will be replaced by two headings: Noncitizens and Unauthorized immigration. Other headings that include the word aliens or the phrase illegal aliens (e.g., Church work with aliens; Children of illegal aliens) will also be revised.

Proposals to revise Aliens, Illegal aliens, and all of the related headings appear on Tentative List 1606a, which may be accessed at

The Library of Congress is accepting comments from the library community and the general public through July 15, 2016. Because of the high volume of comments that is expected, comments will be accepted only through an online survey, the link to which is available at the top of Tentative List 1606a.

Review of the comments by the Policy and Standards Division will begin after July 15, 2016. Final disposition of the proposals will be announced later this year.

End of the RDA test period and LC’s post-test policy

From Judith Kuhagen on the RDA-L list (and others):

End of US RDA Test: LC policy during interim period

The Library of Congress will not create original RDA bibliographic records and generally will not create RDA authority records during the interim period after the US RDA Test ends on December 31, 2010 through the announcement of any implementation decision.

Some US RDA Test participants who are PCC NACO participants will continue to create RDA bibliographic records after Dec. 31, 2010. Other non-US RDA Test participants are creating RDA records now and may/will continue to create RDA records.

RDA records will be used by LC during this interim period in the following categories:

— CIP verification;
— Records created by other libraries, vendors, etc., for materials being added to LC’s collections.

In both categories, the authorized access points may be all RDA forms, all AACR2 forms, or a combination of AACR2 and RDA forms; name authority records may or may not exist in the LC/NACO Authority File.

LC’s internal procedures are posted at

Send questions to

(Cross-posted at Three Catalogers Walk Into a Blog)