Subject headings derived from authority records

On Everybody’s Libraries John Mark Ockerbloom describes a project to add subject headings to the records for an online book collection.  The collection had brief records that lacked subject access, but did have call numbers.  Recognizing that subject authority records frequently include call number ranges, he created a program that used the call number to search authority records and return subject headings.

After filtering out some bad data in a few authority records, and suppressing some terms to break ties, I ran the program, and instantly got subject terms for tens of thousands of books. Some of them were pretty generic (thousands of books were simply labeled “English literature”, for instance), but many were quite specific, and I’d say over 90% of the time were useful descriptions of the book. The maps I built largely based on these assigned subjects worked pretty well from day one.

I really like the way he leveraged the work of the catalogers that created the authority data and the existing call numbers to create subject access for a collection.

Explore posts in the same categories: authority data, subject access

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