I have a question pertaining to H1790 and the rejection of a recent subject proposal of mine for "Lesbian superheroes" from the May 2020 tentative list.

Here was the reason for the rejection, from the most recent Summary of Decisions (
Lesbian superheroes

                        The work being cataloged is a novel. In the Summary of Decisions for list 2004, the announcement stated that going forward, only those qualified headings that are necessary for the work being cataloged according to the instructions in the SHM (H 1790 sec. 4) would be considered. The proposal was not necessary.

The actual text from the Summary of Decisions being cited from February 2002 is this:
Going forward, the meeting will consider only those proposals in which the work being cataloged should be assigned the heading, according to current rules and guidelines on LCSH assignment as stated in the SHM. If the work being cataloged would not be assigned the heading, the proposal will be marked not necessary. This is consistent with the practice for all other proposals for new terminology. (

Since there is no mention of any specific instructions from the Subject Heading Manual in that statement, I assumed that as long as a proposal was in keeping with subject instructions and guidance in general, they were acceptable.

In this case, I proposed the heading "Lesbian superheroes" based on a fictional novel. If I look at H1790 section 4, there is this sentence at the head of the section: “LC practice: Sec. 4, below, describes standard practice followed at the Library of Congress. For an alternative approach to individual works of fiction, see the section SPECIAL PROVISIONS FOR INCREASED SUBJECT ACCESS TO FICTION at the end of this instruction sheet” (<>). Those “Special Provisions” allow for the creation and assignment of subject headings in fictional works by libraries, to augment access and assist patrons in identification and selection of materials of interest. Therefore, it was my understanding that because of these provisions it was allowable to propose new subjects as needed for fictional novels.

In previous discussions on this list and on the SACOList, this understanding appeared to be widely accepted. One contributor from 1/16/20 mentioned having "submitted and had approved numerous subject headings needed for works of fiction and drama (e.g. Body swapping; Boy knitters; Child ninja; Quaker girls; Mexican American teenage boys; Male cheerleaders; Womanizers)" based on H1790 Special Provisions.

So my question is this: Have the "Special Provisions" been discontinued by the Library of Congress? Can we no longer submit proposals for classes of person or other topics as needed to provide increased access to fictional works?

If the Special Provisions have been discontinued, I'm hoping the instructions at H1790 will be updated, so that they don't appear still valid. If they haven't been discontinued, I'm at a loss as to why they didn't apply for my proposal, and why it was rejected.

Thanks in advance for any insights anyone can provide.


Deborah Tomaras
Metadata and Resource Management Librarian
James A. Cannavino Library
Marist College
3399 North Road
Poughkeepsie, NY  12601
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