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Saturday, November 05, 2011

Bib Control Links: pt 2 (Sears Subject Headings)

Sears Subject Headings

"General background

The Sears list of Subject Headings for School and Public Libraries was the work of Minnie Earl Sears who consulted the catalogues of smaller libraries in order to respond to requests made by librarians who wanted to have a subject vocabulary that was less complex than LCSH. There are many similarities between the LCSH and the Sears headings: both lists are essentially alphabetically arranged subject lists of precoordinated subject terms that allow the use of subdivisions. Literary warrant guides the creation and usage of headings, and both aim to achieve the greatest level of specificity in subject analysis."

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Minnie Earl Sears
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Minnie Earl Sears (17 November 1873 – 28 November 1933) formulated the Sears Subject Headings, a simplification of the Library of Congress Subject Headings.

Life and work
Sears was a native of Lafayette, Indiana, and was awarded a B.Sc. from Purdue University at age 18, the youngest graduate in her class. She received an M.Sc in 1893. In 1900 the University of Illinois awarded to her a Bachelor of Library Science degree.

Sears had a long career as a cataloguer and bibliographer at a variety of libraries (Bryn Mawr College, University of Minnesota, New York Public Library), before she joined the publishing company H. W. Wilson Company in 1923 to publish her List of Subject Headings for Small Libraries. The book provides a list of subject headings for small libraries to use in lieu of Library of Congress Subject Headings. Library of Congress headings are often not as useful for small libraries because they are too detailed. Sears’ List of Subject Headings also offers small libraries guidance on how to create their own new subject headings consistently when necessary.

In order to create her subject headings, Sears consulted small and medium sized libraries throughout the country to discern patterns of usage. She then developed her own system, based in part on the Library of Congress Subject Headings, but with a simplified subject vocabulary. In Sears’ system, common terms are much preferred over scientific and technical terms. Her system also allowed individual libraries the authority to create their own subject headings. The Sears model is not meant to serve as a standardized bridge for union catalogs, but rather as a model “for the creation of headings as needed”.

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1 comment:

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