Your proposal for Lesbian superheroes should have been approved, because it was based on a work that can be assigned the heading, according to instructions in SHM H 1790. We will rekey it, and it will appear on a future list and be approved.
The confusion arose because your proposal also included three citations to works about lesbian superheroes in comic books. Those citations were more prominent than the citations to the novels by virtue of their length and the fact that we are on the lookout for superhero proposals based on comic books. (The Summary of Decisions for List 2002 explains why we are on the lookout for those proposals. It is available on our website at https://www.loc.gov/aba/pcc/saco/cpsoed/psd-200217.html.)
This should have been a simple proposal to approve, and would have been if not for the citations referring to comic books. In the future, you can help us approve your fictitious character proposals more readily by refraining from citing comic books or graphic novels, or works about them. We are human, and as humans we are sometimes led down the wrong path by extraneous information.
On that note: Being human, we do occasionally make mistakes on proposals, regardless of how careful we are, or how many times we double-check ourselves. Also as humans, we would prefer to be informed about our mistakes – or potential mistakes – privately, instead of publicly on a listserv. Further, neither PCC members nor SACO members made this decision, LC’s subject policy specialists did. Our email addresses are readily available at the top of every tentative list. Please contact us directly if/when you have concerns, and we would be happy to address them.
Janis L. Young
Policy, Training, and Cooperative Programs Division
Library of Congress
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 (https://www.loc.gov/aba/pcc/saco/cpsoed/psd-200515.html):
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. (https://www.loc.gov/aba/pcc/saco/cpsoed/psd-200217.html)
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” (http://www.loc.gov/aba/publications/FreeSHM/H1790.pdf). 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.