SAC: ALA Annual Report 2017


Chicago, IL, June 22-27, 2017
Reports from:
ALCTS-CAMMS Subject Analysis Committee (SAC)
SAC Subcommittee on Genre/Form Implementation (SGFI)
Faceted Subject Access Interest Group (Selected for interest to MLA)


Subject Analysis Committee

Presentation: Robert Maxwell (Brigham Young University), Adam Schiff (University of Washington). “Subjects in Authority Records: Looking Towards a Linked Data Future”

Maxwell and Schiff explored an expanded conception of the function of authority records that describe works
(including so-called “name-title records”). Whereas in legacy practice authority records have been intended primarily to record the decision about the form of the authorized access point (or heading) and not much else, FRBR and thence RDA has introduced the idea of creating an entire description of an entity, including
expressing relationships to related entities as machine-actionable links.

To wit, RDA Chapter 23 and Appendix M, which are recent additions to the content standard, prescribe the expressing of subject relationships, though the accompanying LC-PCC Policy Statement for Appendix M  addresses only bibliographic record implementation. This means that in bib records subject relationships can be designated in either 6xx fields, or in 7xx fields with relationship designators, or both. This coding  dichotomy needs to be addressed in light of these new possibilities. On the one hand, RDA relationship designators currently usable in 7xx fields allow for more granular subject relationships, such as “Description of (person)” and “Commentary on (work).” On the other hand, MARC 6xx fields are already designed to “behave” as subject fields in discovery systems (though with no further content designation beyond the
MARC tag itself), whereas the function of 7xx fields is broader. The use of relationship designators in 6xx fields is another possibility that merits exploration.

In NACO authority records currently, 5xx fields may be used to point to related entities, but NACO policy restricts these referents to entities established in the LC/NACO Authority File. Subject and form/genre terms, on the other hand, reside in separate thesauri. There have been recent efforts to lobby PCC to both reconsider this policy, and to also allow non-RDA relationship designators to be used (e.g., “depicted”). SAC put forth such a proposal in July 2015, which would allow non-NAF entities (such as LCSH headings) to be referenced using authority record 5xx fields; a response from PCC is still pending.

In the mean time, robust possibilities exist for catalogers describing works (and expressions) within the confines of NACO policy. Eventually, when subject and genre relationships are accounted for (and possibly even summaries and other notes) in this policy, these descriptions could be detailed enough to obviate the need to record work-level elements in each bib record (manifestation description), saving significant cataloger time for works that occur frequently in library collections (such as musical and literary works).

Report of the liaison from the Library of Congress Policy and Standards Division (Janis Young)

Cataloger’s Desktop

Over the past six months, the focus on Cataloger’s Desktop development has been on enhancing search and retrieval through two major projects. The first project, called “Related searches,” enables Desktop to provide the searcher with suggested searches that may more precisely reflect the information they are seeking without reference to the search keywords. This service is based on a machine analysis of all successful searches performed over the past three years. For example, if the searcher types in “uniform title” suggested
related searches include “6.2.2” and “130.” A search for “part” suggests “LC-PCC PS 2.1” and “multipart.”

The second project, called “Classification Web integration,” enables subscribers to both Cataloger’s Desktop and Classification Web to search both resources simultaneously within the Desktop search environment. A search for “music biography” will provide hits in the Subject Headings Manual, LCSH, and the LC Classification schedule. Additionally, links in Classification Web to Subject Headings Manual instruction sheets will be live hyperlinks instead of merely text references. As these highlights are being written, it is projected that this important enhancement will be available in late June or early July. Suggestions for
improving Cataloger’s Desktop should be sent to Bruce Johnson at LC at Subscribe to the free
Cataloger’s Desktop discussion list at URL

Headings for Bulgarian Jurisdictions

LC has completed a project to update geographic name headings for Bulgarian oblasts and okrugs so that the relationships between earlier/later entities and subject usage are correct.

Before 1987, Bulgaria was divided into okrugs. These okrugs were combined into large oblasts in 1987. Then in 1999, these large oblasts were split into smaller oblasts and renamed. In addition, some oblasts have experienced linear name changes since 1987. The history of each of the okrugs and oblasts was individually examined and each of the authority records now accurately indicates the subject usage for the name heading, based on policies in Subject Headings Manual instruction sheets H 708 and H 710.

Following standard policy, the headings for all of the Bulgarian okrugs and oblasts are valid for descriptive usage.

Online Training for LCSH

In cooperation with the Simmons College School of Library and Information Science, PSD is developing free online training in Library of Congress Subject Headings. The training is being developed primarily to meet internal training needs of the Library of Congress, but it is also being made freely available through the Cataloger’s Learning Workshop as a service to the library community. Training units are divided into two or more modules, each of which consists of a lecture and one or more exercises or quizzes. Technology requirements include an Internet connection and the ability to play audio and video files. Six units, totaling 51 individual modules, have been mounted on the CLW at Since ALA Midwinter 2017, units on the principles of subject heading assignment and the use of subdivisions have been added.

The instructors are Janis L. Young, MA MSLS, a senior cataloging policy specialist in PSD, and Daniel N. Joudrey, MLIS Ph. D., an associate professor at Simmons.

Questions or comments about the training may be directed to Janis L. Young at

New SHM Instruction Sheet

Instruction sheet H 2014, Evaluating Subject Proposals, was added to the SHM in June 2017. It describes the subject proposal workflow within the Policy and Standards Division and outlines in general terms the issues that policy specialists consider as they review the proposals that catalogers submit for consideration. A PDF of the instruction sheet may be found at

Subject Heading Illegal aliens

In 2014 and again in early 2016, the Library of Congress was asked to change the LC subject heading Illegal aliens. The proposal was not accepted in 2014. When the Library was asked in 2016, cataloging policy specialists again examined the ways that illegal activities and objects are represented in Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). The Library has done extensive research on alternate headings based on survey feedback and additional research based on literary warrant. The Library has not yet posted a decision as we are still conferring with interested parties. A final decision will be announced through the normal process.

The Library received the following direction in the FY2017 Omnibus Bill regarding subject headings:

Subject Headings: In lieu of report language related to the Library of Congress’ subject headings, the Library of Congress is directed to make publicly available its process for changing or adding subject headings. It is expected that the Library use a process to change or add subject headings that is clearly defined, transparent, and allows input from stakeholders including those in the congressional community. The process should consider appropriate sources of common terminology used to refer to a concept, including current statutory language and other legal reference sources; and other sources, such as reference materials; websites; and, titles in the Library of Congress’ collection.

The Library is in the process of implementing this language to make publicly available the Library’s process for changing or adding subject headings. What is envisioned is a publicly available web page providing step-by-step instructions on how to prepare and submit a proposal, a high level description of the proposal review process, and the mechanisms used to publish decisions. Embedded in the process description will be hyperlinks to relevant sections of the Subject Headings Manual. The web page should be available this summer.
Subject Headings Related to the Mogul Empire
In March 2017, the qualifier on 15 subject headings that were qualified by “Mogul” were revised to “Mogul Empire” (e.g., Architecture, Mogul, was revised to Architecture, Mogul Empire) and several general references for various spellings of the word Mogul were cancelled. The revision was prompted by an approved proposal for the Moghals, a South Asian ethnic group whose name is sometimes confused with the empire.


New Editions
The 2017 edition of Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials (LCGFT) was published online in PDF form in April 2017. The files may be freely downloaded from
Art Genre/Form Project
PSD continues to partner with the Art Libraries Society of North America to develop art genre/form terms that will be added to Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials (LCGFT).
LC Implementation
The Library of Congress’ Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Directorate, which catalogs most of the textual works acquired for the Library’s general collections, has not yet decided when it will implement the “general,” religion, and literature genre/form terms.


New Edition

The 2017 edition of Library of Congress Medium of Performance Thesaurus for Music (LCMPT) was published online in PDF form in April 2017. The files may be freely downloaded from

Medium of Performance Thesaurus Manual

In June 2017, PSD published in draft form the initial 18 instruction sheets of the Medium of Performance Thesaurus Manual. When it is complete, the Manual will provide guidelines and instructions for making proposals and for applying medium of performance terms. Additional draft instruction sheets will be posted as they are completed.

The draft instruction sheets may be found in PDF form at Comments on the drafts may be directed to Janis L. Young at

Medium of Performance Proposals

PSD is now accepting proposals for new and revised medium of performance terms. All proposals should follow the guidelines on form of authorized term, references, scope notes, research, etc., presented in the draft Medium of Performance Thesaurus Manual.

Following standard procedure, SACO members should submit proposals through the online proposal system and alert LC by email when those proposals are ready for LC review. SACO members are encouraged submit their proposals through the SACO Music Funnel; information about the funnel may be found at


New Edition

The 2017 edition of Library of Congress Demographic Group Terms (LCDGT) was published online in PDF form in April 2017. The files may be freely downloaded from

Pilot Phase 3

Library of Congress Demographic Group Terms (LCDGT) is intended to describe the creators of, and contributors to, resources, and also the intended audience of resources. Terms may be assigned in bibliographic records and in authority records for works.

PSD has extended Phase 3 of the pilot through the end of 2017. Proposals for terms that are needed in new cataloging only are being accepted. Due to PSD staffing and workload considerations, proposals that appear to be made as part of retrospective projects, or projects to establish terms that are not needed for current cataloging, will not be considered. All proposals should follow the guidelines on form of authorized term, references, scope notes, research, etc., presented in the draft Demographic Group Terms Manual, which is available at

SACO members should use the Proposal System when making proposals and send an email to
to inform Coop staff that the proposals are ready, according to the normal procedure.

LC Implementation

The Library of Congress’ Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Directorate, which catalogs most of the textual works acquired for the Library’s general collections, has not yet decided when it will implement the demographic group terms.

The Demographic Group Terms Manual, available at, is still in draft form.

Report from the IFLA Liaison

IFLA 2017 Subject Analysis and Access Standing Committee (SA&A) Meetings and Open Programs

The IFLA 2017 Conference will take place in Wroclaw, Poland from August 19-25. The conference web site is at: The Standing Committee will have its meetings on August 19 (12:30-2:30 PM) and August 24 (10:45 AM-1:15 PM). The Section’s web page is at:

SA&A will be holding two open programs, both on Monday, August 21. The first one (9:30-11:30 AM) is being co-sponsored by the Bibliography Section, and is entitled: Challenging Society and Naming Identity: Subject Access and Bibliography in a Multicultural World. The second one (4:00-6:00 PM) is being co-sponsored by the Law Libraries Section, and is entitled: Optimizing Subject Access to Legal Resources: Solidarity in Divergence. Miriam Nauri will chair the first program, and Helene Besnier and George Prager will co-chair the second one.

The full conference program, including a description of the committee’s two open sessions, is available at:

Working Groups

The Section has two active working groups: Subject Access in the New Environment, chaired by Maja Zumer, and the Genre/Form Working Group (a joint group with the Cataloguing Section, chaired by George Prager and Ricardo Santos from the Cataloging Section). Both groups have been working on surveys for national libraries.

The Genre/Form Working Group sent out its survey on the National Libraries list-serve in early February 2017. The survey closed April 15. We received 90 responses (excluding duplicate and fragmentary responses), a response rate of over 50%. This response rate seemed quite good, considering that over a quarter of the email addresses were obsolete. Four members of the working group met on April 20-21, 2017 at the National Library of Spain to evaluate the results of the survey. Minutes of the meeting are available at:

The working group is completing the evaluation of the survey, and will be presenting a report at the Metadata Reports Program during the IFLA conference. Its report will also be posted on the working group’s web page: The working group will be meeting informally during the conference to discuss its next projects.

Report from the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) Liaison

The significant subject-related project for the ARLIS/NA Cataloging Advisory Committee continues to be the art genre/form terms. Janis Young (Library of Congress) was able to attend the annual conference in February in New Orleans. Libby Dechman, also from LC, is a regular attender. The Cataloging Advisory Committee met with Janis and Libby for several hours to discuss the proposed terms, based on our submission late in 2016. They discussed specific terms as well as broader hierarchical issues. The significant development for the range of terms was the decision to propose a new broad term for Visual works which serves to cover both specifically art terms as well as such genres and forms as caricatures, coloring
books, maps, models, and pictures. Art is still included but it is a narrower term than visual works. It was an exciting “Eureka” moment during the conference because it clarified the dilemma about what was or was not Art. The meeting implicitly resolved not to further quibble about the art/non-art dilemma, leaving that to cataloger judgment.

The ARTFRAME project (part of LD4P) continues at Columbia University with CAC acting in an advisory capacity. Many of the topics on the table at the moment are related to description but they have also discussed subject matter. As is usually the case with art cataloging, there are Of-ness and About-ness issues as well as iconography/title/subject, for example, a painting of the Virgin Mary and Child Jesus.

SAC Subcommittee on Genre/Form Implementation

Working Group on Full Implementation of Library of Congress Faceted Vocabularies

This group, which has been working since shortly after ALA Annual 2016, submitted the final draft of a white paper entitled A Brave New (Faceted) World: Towards Full Implementation of Library of Congress Faceted Vocabularies, the first draft of which was reviewed by SGFI and SAC at ALA Midwinter in Atlanta, to SAC on June 16, 2017. The working group received much valuable feedback and suggestions for minor revisions, and SAC voted to approve the paper with minor revisions. The working group incorporated these revisions and
resubmitted the corrected version to SAC on July 13, 2017. SAC must now decide how to disseminate the paper and needs to devise a plan for monitoring responses and ensuring follow-through on the working group’s recommendations.

The full paper will be made publicly available soon. The executive summary reads as follows:

Over the past decade, the Library of Congress, in collaboration with the ALCTS/CaMMS Subject Access Committee and other constituencies, has developed a suite of new controlled vocabularies which collectively show potential for a new era in resource discovery. These vocabularies are designed to be used to describe various non-topical attributes of resources, attributes that have heretofore been described using LCSH headings and MARC control data fields, with mixed success.

This white paper summarizes work done thus far to develop and promote implementation of these new LC vocabularies, and suggests next steps for achieving full-scale current and retrospective implementation of faceted vocabulary terms in bibliographic and authority metadata. This new era represents a sea change, arguably on the same scale as RDA and Linked Data implementation; indeed, it will require significant buy-in and investment of time and resources by groups such as LC, the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC), OCLC and other entities. Although these entities are the primary intended audience for this paper, further discussion and effort throughout the English-language cataloging community is desired.

The Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials (LCGFT), the Library of Congress Medium of Performance Thesaurus (LCMPT), and the Library of Congress Demographic Group Terms (LCDGT), have been developed by LC with significant assistance and collaboration from the ALCTS/CaMMS/SAC Subcommittee on Genre/Form Implementation and specialist cataloging  communities. For the non-LC groups, this has included work on the content of the vocabularies themselves; updates to the MARC formats that enable the granular encoding of these attributes; best practices for cataloger implementation; training sessions, both online as webinars and face-to-face at conferences; and, research into programmatic retrospective assignment of faceted terms in legacy bibliographic metadata.

To bring these aforementioned efforts to fruition, an expansion in scope of effort is necessary. Though formidable talent exists within ALA and specialist communities, none of these groups alone has the resources to pursue full-scale current and retrospective implementation. Further, until a critical mass of bibliographic
metadata includes these faceted attributes, the vision of optimal user discovery experience that these attributes enable remains out of reach.

Full-scale implementation requires a combination of broad and comprehensive training of catalogers (“current implementation”) and retrospective implementation through the development of nuanced and powerful machine algorithms. Work on both of these fronts is already underway, and now requires the buy-in and support of national and international entities like PCC, LC, OCLC and library systems vendors.
Such support will enable the following:

Comprehensive faceted vocabulary training for catalogers working in shared environments
Routine creation of work-level (and in many cases expression-level) authority records for works (or expressions) which are embodied in or are likely to be embodied in multiple manifestations
Retrospective implementation of faceted vocabulary terms using algorithms developed, vetted, and tested by expert communities
Display and granular indexing of all faceted data, including (but not limited to) MARC bibliographic fields 046, 370, 382, 385, 386, 388 and 655 (or their equivalents in other encoding standards)
Display and granular indexing of authority data, including attributes (including MARC fields 046, 370, 372, 374, 375, 380, 382, 385 and 386) and syndetic structures

Though the above components are expressed in terms of MARC metadata, the intellectual work will be transferrable to emerging metadata formats such as BIBFRAME, insofar as those formats are sufficiently granular and expressive.

Working Group on LCGFT for Video Games

The Working Group (WG) on Genre/Form of Videogames selected 75 terms from an initial list of hundreds. The WG proceeded to create authority records, and by the time of ALA Annual they had already created records for 55 of the 75 terms. By ALA Midwinter 2018 the WG plans to add scope notes to authority records for all 75 genre terms. Conceivably the specialists at PSD will not be ready to incorporate the production of this new vocabulary to their current list of priorities in the near future. However the WG on Genre/Form of
Videogames has been offered the option of adding the vocabulary to the Open Data Registry under the sponsorship of Online Audiovisual Catalogers (OLAC). In that case the G/F of Videogames would be published under the patronage of the Subject Analysis Committee (SAC) and the sponsorship of OLAC. The source code that would be used in bibliographic records would then be $2 olac. There might still be a chance that PSD will make a favorable decision by the time ALA Midwinter 2018 opens.

Future of the Subcommittee

SGFI feels that the conclusion of the white paper also ends the mission of the subcommittee. However after long discussions, SGFI identified the need to articulate best practices and training for the future full scale implementation of the three LC non-topical faceted vocabularies. SGFI asked SAC the permission to transform itself into a new subcommittee working on best practices and training. SGFI members identified also the need to develop some best practices for the applications of LCSH chronological subdivisions,  or the development of a pre-conference on the application of all three non-topical new LC vocabularies. Hopefully current members will remain, thus continuing their contribution with the considerable experience gained so far, and expectedly new members will join, adding greater, combined expertise. SGFI will submit a proposal to SAC for the creation and support of the new subgroup with focus on best practice of LC faceted vocabularies. The proposal will be sent to members of SAC by September 1, 2017.

Faceted Subject Access Interest Group

Magda El-Sherbini (Ohio State University). “Improving Resource Discoverability, Multilingual Subject Access”

Providing subject access to non-English materials using Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) is a challenge not only for catalogers, but also for users who don’t know the structure of the LCSH. In many cases, the terms used in the LCSH are not equivalent in meaning to those in non-English languages. The current practice of OCLC to convert the LCSH to FAST terms opens new possibilities for improving resource discoverability and access to non-English collections.

El-Sherbini described a project undertaken at Ohio State beginning in February 2015 to map FAST terms (which are derived from LCSH) to terms in non-English thesauri that are equivalent in meaning. As precedent, she cited a grand-funded project at the Biblioteca Alexandrina to provide subject access in the
three primary languages of its users: French, English and Arabic. At Ohio State, they chose FAST over LCSH itself as the syntactic structure of the terms is simpler, and because robust data manipulation tools exist for FAST. Using MARC 6xx fields with second indicator 7, they stored the output of the subject heading
translation in their bib records locally, as well as URIs for the terms. The additional subject headings were also propagated to OCLC master records (example: OCLC 936248617). The project currently focuses on current cataloging but applying the method to legacy data is planned.

Rachel Jaffe (University of California, Santa Cruz). “FAST Times in Digital Repository Metadata Remediation”

The Metadata Services department at UC Santa Cruz is currently engaged in a digital repository metadata remediation project in anticipation of both a possible DAMS migration and a transition to linked data. As part of their effort to control and reconcile the controlled, uncontrolled and out-of-control vocabulary terms appearing in our metadata, they are exploring the viability, feasibility and impacts of mapping their LC and other subject terms to FAST.

UCSC currently has over 135,000 objects in their instance of CONTENTdm, described in DublinCore. In preparation for a possible DAMS migration, they have undertaken a “nimi-project” to reconcile controlled terms against thesauri using OpenRefine. FAST was chosen as it is simpler than LCSH and is more linked data friendly. OpenRefine’s reconciliation and manipulation capabilities are formidable and allow for streamlined batch updating of subject metadata. Using numerous screenshots, Jaffe gave a detailed account of how OpenRefine accomplishes this task. There is a dearth of training materials for FAST, meaning that USCS staff must “re-learn how to drive.” Through their experience, they hope to address the question of whether FAST is an acceptable replacement for LCSH.

Lucas Mak and Lisa Lorenzo (Michigan State University). “How to get FAST fast? Automating LCSH to FAST heading conversion with FAST Linked Data API”

Within the Michigan State University Libraries’ Islandora digital repository, metadata development and maintenance is informed by best practices for discoverability and interface usability and design. Together, these factors led the MSUL digital repository team to implement FAST heading usage across all collections in the repository. FAST headings allow for succinct subject description (using terms that are easier to assign)
and intuitive faceting as well as a cleaner display than complex, compound subject strings. In addition to use in display, FAST headings also lend themselves to conversion to linked data formats due to their more accurate assignment of URIs to individual subject strings.

MSUL used the OCLC FAST Linked Data API to convert LCSH and LCGFT data at the time of metadata creation. There are limitations, such as the lack of corresponding FAST heading for certain free-floating subject subdivisions (e.g., “Officials and employees”). MSUL also created a conversion table for the UMI thesis/dissertation descriptors to FAST terms; unfortunately, some of the broader UMI terms do not map to FAST terms in a one-to-one fashion (e.g., “Ancient languages” in UMI’s vocabulary mapped to the FAST terms “Language and languages” and “History, Ancient”).

Submitted by Casey Mullin, Chair, MLA-CMC Vocabularies Subcommittee