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Headings for Tomorrow: Public Access Display of Subject Headings.

Headings for Tomorrow: Public Access Display 0f Subject Headings. ALA, 1992. 51p. $15, paper. This short publication resuits from the work of a committee, chaired by Martha Yee, in ALA's Association for Library Collections and Technical Services. Its aim is "to aid system designers and librarians involved in making decisions about the design of displays of more than one subject heading to users of online public access catalogs." The volume makes it clear that it is not intended as a set of standards but rather as a guide or "as a map to a complex territory." And complex it is

The nineteen-page introduction gives an overview of the ter- ritory. Basically, two different philosophies are behind the arrangement of subject headings: the "structured approach" em- bodied in LC filing rules and a "strict alphabetical approach" partially embodied in ALA filing rules. The structured approach is logical, whereas the alphabetical approach is easy to implement and use. The guide does an excel- lent job in pointing out the ad- vantages of each approach and acknowledges that decisions made in any given library are not necessarily absolute.

The guide devotes separate chapters to use of these two approaches for displays of subdivisions, inverted headings, qualified headings, numerical headings, subjects interfiled with names and titles, and punctuation. For each category it describes current practices and pros and cons. When appropriate, it also addresses some of the problems related to machine filing. A final chapter looks at messages prepared to assist the user. Here it recommends that such messages "be courteous, tactful, and compassionate, and avoid implying ignorance or worse on the part of the novice user." The first chapter on subdivisions is the longest, because here the authors must consider various kinds of subdivisions, like differences between topical, geographical and chronological subdivisions, and then how to arrange compound subdivisions. Several sections are required to discuss chronological subdivisions: "Should three numeral dates be arranged before four numeral dates?" What about arranging chronological subdivisions for centuries? And then the hairy problem of B.C. dates, where logic requires their arrangement in inverse numerical order. Also, how should you arrange chronological subdivisions with a date span? What about the chronological subdivision in the form of "to [date]"?

The territory is complex, and this guide does a good job of assuring us answers will not be simple.

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Author:Johnson, Richard
Publication:Computers in Libraries
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 1992
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