While experienced catalogers use a number of successful approaches to determining which subject headings to assign a title, this module attempts to provide new serials catalogers being training with a method with which to start.

After completing the descriptive cataloging of the serial issue(s) in hand, and becoming somewhat familiar with the contents, try telling yourself in plain English what the publication is about. Ideally this is done before consulting the subject heading vocabulary in that it prevents getting carried away with the possibilities found there. Are there special geographic, time period, population group, or format aspects that should be brought out in the headings and subdivisions? When you are finished, imagine yourself at the reference desk being asked for material on one of the subject headings you have just assigned. Do you think the patron would be satisfied if handed your serial? Did your subject headings succeed in functioning as a summary of the entire publication? Did they bring to the attention of the catalog user the most important topics discussed?

For CONSER participants and other institutions cooperating with the Library of Congress to further develop the Library of Congress Headings (LCSH), additional parts of the thought process include: When looking for the heading in LCSH, did you find a suitable term or at least a reference to one? Finding a suitable term but not on the first try may indicate the need for a new reference. Having to settle for an overly-broad heading or to resort to a combination of headings that cover the subject matter in the roundabout way should trigger consideration of new subject heading proposal.

See also:

Module 15. Subject Headings