Thursday, June 10, 2010

Titles vs. Subject Headings

Greetings, gentle reader(s)! Today's puzzle is about charming titles vs. broad subject headings, and how both of them lend difficulty to researching.

Part of my journey towards locating correspondence between Clara E. Laughlin and Little, Brown and Company has been spent in looking at general works about American publishing houses. Our good friends at the Dictionary of Literary Biography have some very nice titles, such as:

Dictionary of Literary Biography Documentary Series — The House of Scribner,1846-1904. Volume 13.
Dictionary of Literary Biography Documentary Series — The House of Scribner,1905-1930. Volume 16.
Dictionary of Literary Biography Documentary Series — The House of Scribner, 1931-1984. Volume 17.

Volume 49 of the DLB (as librarians are wont to refer to this set) is titled: American literary publishing houses, 1638-1899.

So, what LCSH do these titles have in common? They should all have in common:

Publishers and publishing -- United States

at a minimum, hopefully also subdivided:


If you have read a few other posts, you are probably anticipating my next comments: that any book that is about more than three subjects gets a broader heading, such as the Publishers and publishing heading, vs. a book like Volume 13 of the DLB, which focuses more specifically on the House of Scribner.

Now, let's talk a little about titles. I am deliberately avoiding a rant about the House of Bruccoli Clark Layman being obscured by the ridiculous name of "Gale Cengage", the current dealer of all things DLB. (Pausing to fondly reflect on when the biggest argument used to be about whether to shelve the DLB volumes in volume order in Reference or subject classification, which chopped up the set unattractively.)

If one is browsing on the general subject heading:

Publishers and publishing -- United States

in your library catalog of choice, you have likely noticed the subdivision of


I did, and upon selecting that subdivided subheading, was rewarded with this title:

Author Cerf, Bennett, 1898-1971
Title At Random : the reminiscences of Bennett Cerf / [with a new introduction by Christopher Cerf]
Imprint New York : Random House Trade Paperbacks, c2002

Well played, Mr. Cerf, well played. Just this once, I will nod in approval at a pun. If you were a co-founder of Random House, you are indeed entitled to title your autobiography "At Random."

But what of other titles that share the subject heading:

Publishers and publishing -- United States -- Biography

After all, the Link+ catalog lists 168 items that share this LCSH!

Give this subject heading a try in your catalog!

No comments: