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.


RDA Four Months In (at On the Front Lines conference)

Better late than never, I hope, here is the handout from my presentation at the ninth annual On the Front Lines: Statewide Library Practitioners Conference, presented by the Illinois State Library at the University of Illinois Springfield on August 5-7.

RDA Four Months In

It was a challenge, as the audience included working catalogers, non-catalogers, and I think a few technical services managers.  What I was trying to do was present both a very general overview of the background of RDA, some of its central ideas, and the reasons for its adoption, and a look at some of the changes the new code has brought about in our bibliographic records and files.

“Getting Ready for RDA” (COSUGI 2013)

With a deep sigh of relief, I report that my presentation at COSUGI this morning on planning for RDA went smoothly and seems to have been well received. I’m attaching PDFs of the slideshow and the accompanying handout on resources for RDA training; after I get a chance to edit my speaker’s notes a little and bring them a little closer to what I actually said, I’ll post those as well.

These presentations always evolve: I sent the materials you are looking at here in mid-February, and I was making changes literally as I got ready this morning. One thing I emphasized in the presentation, that is less prominent in the slideshow, is that preparation for RDA involves a lot of policy planning, much of which will probably be done while you’re learning about the code. Among other things this is an occasion for examining and rethinking your library’s or consortium’s existing policies. And a point I inexplicably omitted: As you make these decisions, it is very important to document, not only the decisions themselves but the reasons for them. Someone after you will be revisiting the issues you’re dealing with now, quite possibly someone who will not have been around for these initial discussions. They will appreciate knowing the context in which you established your policies and practices, which they can use in evaluating what they should do at that undetermined point in the future. And in fact you and your colleagues may well be returning to these questions yourselves, and it can be helpful, when re-evaluating what you’ve done, to have an answer to the question–literally–“What were we thinking?”

Some RDA Training Resources 2013-02-14


UPDATE: Speaker’s notes:

Getting Ready for RDA notes for posting 2013-03-25

Planning for RDA

For several years now we have been focusing much attention on the content of RDA, and that is still a necessary focus. But for the 2012 Annual Conference (Bouncing Higher!) of the Illinois Library Association, I thought we were due for a discussion of how we are planning, or should plan, for the adoption of the new standard, now that the Library of Congress has set a target date for implementation less than six months away.

My presentation, which includes both my own ideas and contributions from several colleagues, is posted on the conference website. I’m posting it here as well, as a PPT file so you can see the notes, and as a PDF in case you have trouble accessing the PPT. There are also two PDF documents, one with a list of training resources, the other with a couple of songs you are free to use. Because what’s really wrong with RDA is that it doesn’t have enough songs, don’t you think?

Wait a Minute, How Many Months 2012-10-17 (PPT)

Wait a Minute, How Many Months 2012-10-17 (PDF)

Some RDA Training Resources 2012-10-11

Cataloging Campfire Songs selections

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)

RDA Records in Their Natural Habitat

Just posted by J. McRee Elrod on the RDA-L list:

“Records from LC’s RDA test are available for viewing in their online

“To find the records:

“1. From the home page, left click BASIC SEARCH

“2. In the SEARCH TEXT box, type: 040e rda

“3. Left click EXPERT SEARCH in the SEARCH TYPE box.

“4. Left click BEGIN SEARCH button.

“5. To view a record, left click any title.

“6. You will be taken to the BRIEF RECORD display. To see the full
MARC record, left click MARC TAGS tab.

“The few records I saw were for books only. All have the new 33x
fields, although it’s possible that LC and/or other agencies may not
use these fields for plain vanilla texts.”

You can also search all the RDA records in WorldCat by calling up the Search WorldCat dialog box (F2) in Connexion, and typing dx:rda in the Command Line Search box at the top.

The University of Chicago Library is another RDA test site where you can view RDA records in the catalog. Just follow the PAC View links in the RDA Examples document (as the introductory paragraph notes, the MARC View links aren’t working) and then, when looking at the record, click on “MARC Display” at the left. This page links to University of Chicago documentation (including the examples) and presentations, as well as LC’s RDA-related documentation.