National Library of Australia

Subjects used in ALG

The Australian Libraries Gateway records information about the collecting levels of Australian libraries using 24 broad subject categories. These headings have been subdivided further into approximately 250 subjects (a full list of subjects is available for printing off-line).

  • Agriculture
  • Anthropology
  • Art & Architecture
  • Biological Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Economics & Business
  • Education
  • Geography & Earth Sciences
  • History & Biography
  • Language & Literature
  • Law
  • Library Science & Interdisciplinary Works
  • Mathematics
  • Medicine
  • Music
  • Performing Arts
  • Philosophy & Religion
  • Physical Education, Recreation & Sport
  • Physics & Astronomy
  • Political & Military Studies
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Technology

The original collecting level information in the Gateway was derived from Australian Conspectus reports provided by 50 libraries. These reports contained data at a very fine level of subject detail, representing about 10,000 individual subject lines. Furthermore, this data was based on a range of different library classification schemes - summaries of the ALG subjects with the corresponding Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), the Library of Congress (LC) classification, the Moys classification for law, and the Metro classification for music are available.

In order to make this information accessible through the Web, the Australian Libraries Gateway has mapped these 10,000 lines of data to approximately 250 subject categories. This was possible because there was no great variability in the reported subject collection strengths (refer to definitions of the ALG collecting levels) for any one library within any subject category.

These subject categories have been developed specifically for use within the Australian Libraries Gateway. In some cases, these categories closely follow the arrangement of the Dewey Decmimal Classification scheme; in other cases, they combine aspects of the Dewey and Library of Congress schemes. The Broad System of Ordering, published by UNESCO and the Federation Internationale de Documentation (FID) in 1978, was used as a guide in developing these categories. Advice was also sought from librarians and academics working in a number of the relevant disciplines.

In response to feedback from Australian libraries and users of the Gateway requesting more detailed subject searching, the Gateway architecture now supports the subjects at a narrower, third level. Rather than establishing subject headings which are not applicable for the description of Australian library collections, ALG Administration will add new subjects as they are recommended by Australian libraries. Libraries wishing to describe their collection and find the existing second level subjects too broad, should Contact ALG Administration with details of the proposed new heading/s, together with details of the name authority source (eg Library of Congress Subject Headings, MESH etc).

Last modified: October 07 2009.