Dear colleagues


With apologies for cross-posting.


After the recent discussion on the SACO list concerning LCSH proposals
for new terms needed in name authority records, and PSD's response, I'd
like to develop this case.


When I reviewed the use of controlled vocabulary in LC/NAF earlier this
year, 49% of 368, 372 and 374 fields had a source given in $2, and of
those, 95% were LCSH. 100% of controlled vocabulary used by the BL was
LCSH, and 94% of controlled vocabulary used by LC was LCSH (LC and the
BL between us are responsible for around 40% of new LC/NAF records). 


LC have provided some guidance in DCM:Z1 on the use of LCSH in NARs.
Since we began creating RDA NARs at the BL in 2011, we have had many
discussions with our own cataloguers, which resulted in further guidance
to be found in the BL Guide to RDA Name Authority Records (RDA Toolkit,
Global Workflows).   


This illustrates that LCSH has emerged strongly as the controlled
vocabulary of choice, in LC/NAF name authority records. That is
understandable, as our cataloguers are familiar with it and need no
further training, and desirable as it promotes consistency within
LC/NAF, and with controlled vocabulary in bibliographic records for
linked resources. It's efficient for us, as our local copy of the LCSH
file is linked to our bibliographic database, and can quickly be


We have found LCSH suitable to the task. The only significant issue has
been not with its structure but with gaps in its vocabulary. "Kingdoms"
was the first proposal intended to fill such a gap, but it was designed
to be compatible with bibliographic LCSH usage, and literary warrant was
adduced as well. We have not proposed any change to the structure or
rules of LCSH.


Interestingly, the authority used as a pattern "Republics" has no usage
or literary warrant given. LCSH is not a pure thesaurus, but records
terms used by the Library of Congress in the past, and terms proposed by
SACO institutions as needed. LCSH rules and patterns were not designed
from scratch; the SHM is the result of an exercise in bibliographic
archaeology conducted by Lois Mai Chan and others.  


As a result, LCSH is inconsistent in structure across subject areas, and
often contains terms that are less than ideal. However, it is the system
that it is most efficient for us to use. The same objections raised to
its suitability for authority records can be (and have been) made in
respect of bibliographic records. 


Suggestions have been made for other thesauri that could be used, or
that might be developed. When I began my career at the British Library
in 1991, the Authority Control team was putting the finishing touches to
a subject system called COMPASS (Computer-aided subject system), that
used terms mainly from Precis, arranged in a fresh thesaurus from which
faceted strings were created. Theoretically, it was much clearer and
more consistent than LCSH, but we dropped it because its potential users
found it more effective to use LCSH, as the prevailing standard. 


22 years later I find myself in the odd position of commending LCSH to
its creators. I hope that PSD will consider accepting proposals for new
LCSH needed in name authority records, as long as the proposals are
consistent with LCSH principles for bibliographic usage. In principle
anything that has a name authority record belongs to a class of things,
or persons, that can also be written about. 







Richard Moore 

Authority Control Team Manager 

The British Library


Tel.: +44 (0)1937 546806                       

E-mail: [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>



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