Subject Headings Review Panel

The Subject Headings Review Panel was appointed to provide advice on improving subject access to information on the ANBD.

Background

One of the first expert groups to be established was the Kinetica Subject Headings Expert Advisory Group, formed in 1998. This EAG was intended to replace the Subject Headings Review Panel, a standing sub-committee of the ABN Standards Committee with responsibility for determining subject cataloguing practice within the Australian Bibliographic Network.

From 1998 through to early 1999, the Subject Headings EAG completed phase 1 of the Australian Subject Access project. The aim of this project was to maximise the impact of online access to Australian subject terms using the List of Australian Subject Headings (2nd Edition), an unpublished ALIA work, commonly called SLASH. In Phase 1 all SLASH headings, which did not conflict with existing terms on the NBD were implemented. A complete list of all new Australian subject headings from stage 1 of SLASH is mounted on the National Library's server at slash.html

Implementing terms for names of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their languages commenced in 1999, but went into a hiatus because of other priorities in 2000.

In March 2001, it was decided to re-activate the EAG and adopt a new name to reflect an ongoing advisory role as EAGs had only been set up to provide advice over a limited period of time. The Subject Headings Review Panel (SHRP) was reborn.

Terms of reference

The terms of reference of this EAG were to provide advice and guidance on:

  • Subject Headings proposals submitted for inclusion in the list Library of Congress Subject Headings
  • the application of Library of Congress Subject Cataloguing Manual: Subject Headings standards
  • assessing the impact of Library of Congress subject cataloguing policy and practice on the Australian National Bibliographic Database (ANBD) and Libraries Australia libraries
  • the development of subject headings policies relevant to the ANBD, including future development of the Australian extension to LCSH, and the Australian Subject Access project.

Membership

  • Joan Moncrieff (Deakin University)
  • Judith Purser (University of Melbourne)
  • Jennifer Kerry (AIATSIS)
  • Deirdre Kiorgaard (National Library of Australia)
  • Bemal Rajapatirana (Libraries Australia)

Meetings & papers

Meetings were held approximately 3 times per year, primarily by teleconference.

Outcomes

Progress was made on the Australian Subject Access Project - in particular, terms for names of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their languages were implemented. A key issue was to identify the most authoritative source when reconciling the names for Australia's indigenous peoples and languages found in SLASH. The SHRP recognised the desirability of using the AIATSIS Thesaurus as the preferred tool but also acknowledged that Ethnologue (used by the Library of Congress) and the Library of Congress Subject Headings List will present inconsistencies and conflicts. A comparative analysis between the AIATSIS Thesaurus, Ethnologue, LCSH and SLASH was done to identify and quantify major conflicts and inconsistencies and determine the most efficient procedures for establishing headings on the ANBD.

The SHRP also implemented the recommendations arising from the Expert Advisory Group on the Application of ABN Standards Committee Resolutions. The aim of these recommendations was to minimise variance with LCSH by adopting Australian terms as a reference to the LCSH term and reviewing established Australian extensions to LCSH. In particular:

  • Where a term already exists in LCSH, an equivalent Australian term may be adopted as a reference to the LCSH term.
  • Australian subject headings which have previously been substituted for existing LCSH terms, should be reviewed in order to reduce the variations from LCSH.
  • The Australian subject headings, which have already been adopted, should be continuously monitored for opportunities to reduce the variation from LCSH.

Finally, the SHRP also reviewed Australian dates under Period Subdivisions: closing the 1990- subdivision and commencing a new subdivision.  It is also hoped that the Subject heading Review Panel can set up a review cycle that will prevent future problems by setting up a process that will anticipate future changes.