• Queer Browsing and the Library of Congress Subject Headings: Can user-generated tags enhance subject access to LGBTQ+ material?

    Elle Moyse (see profile)
    Intersectionality (Sociology), Library science, Information science, Libraries, History, Queer theory
    Item Type:
    City, University of London
    Classification schemes, lgbtcollections, library values, Intersectionality, Library and information science, Library history
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    Within the field of Library and Information science, the treatment of LGBTQ+ topics in the Library of Congress subject headings is an emerging concern. Although changes have been implemented to the subject headings throughout the years, the hierarchical, oppositional nature of the system undoubtedly promotes heteronormative ideals. Moreover, the focus on uniformity and literary warrant means that ‘niché’ or non-dominant LGBTQ+ topics are often limited or obscured. The concept of adding user-tags into library catalogues has been popularised as a possible alternative. Due to this, there are an emerging number of tools that allow user-tags to be implemented as an overlay feature. This study aims to provide a comparison of Library of Congress’ subject headings and user-tags created by LibraryThing web users. To achieve this, a small pool of LGBTQ+ identifying participants were asked to complete a survey-based task to determine which terms they would use when searching for LGBTQ+ material. The participant terms were then compared with the terms that emerged within the user-tags and subject headings. Within the user-tags and participant data there was a high frequency of terms relating to “queer” identity and underrepresented LGBTQ+ groups, which were absent from the subject headings. However, the data also showed that the Library of Congress subject headings matched more of the participant given terms relating to intersectional LGBTQ+ issues. Due to their oppositional strengths and weaknesses, the research concludes that implementing user-tags to library catalogues is likely to enhance subject access to LGBTQ+ material, as long as it is implemented alongside the subject headings and does not replace them. This research is considered an exploratory study and results cannot be generalised.
    Last Updated:
    3 years ago
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