By GAIL FINEGERG
Dr. Billington cut the first slice from a confectionery replica of the "Big Red Book" on Saturday evening, June 27, to celebrate 100 years of Library of Congress Subject Headings, a work that guides catalogers and library patrons everywhere in the use of standardized subject headings to ensure access to information.
Joining in the celebration were Library staff and colleagues from other libraries and private-sector customers in Washington for the American Library Association Annual Conference.
"Over the years, librarians and readers the world over have come to depend on LC's leadership in setting the standards for subject access," Dr. Billington said in his opening remarks.
To mark the centennial, Cataloging Distribution Service (CDS) produced a commemorative set of the "Big Red Book," which since 1898 has grown to five volumes of Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH).
He noted that although the work is "monumental," unlike other monuments in Washington, the LCSH is always expanding and changing to mirror the expansion of knowledge and societal changes. For example, during the past five years, the work grew by 43,600 new headings, including "yuppies," "paparazzi" and "holiday stress."
Dr. Billington added: "It's not only the five volumes we're celebrating but also the diligent work of catalogers at this Library and cooperating institutions, the Cataloging Policy and Support Office, and the Cataloging Distribution Service, which together are responsible for the publication of this monumental work."
Associate Librarian for Library Services Winston Tabb briefly traced the history of the work since 1898, when LC catalogers formally adapted the American Library Association dictionary listing of subject headings. In 1916, the Library published under its own name the first edition of Library of Congress Subject Headings, which has appeared in print since then. As technology changed, CDS also distributed tapes of LCSH to other libraries and bibliographic utilities each week and then made it available on CD-ROM. The Library now provides an online version accessible via the Internet.
Noting the importance of the Library's partnerships with other libraries and organizations that serve libraries, CDS Chief Peter Young thanked corporate sponsors of the reception, including Brodart, DRA, EBSCO Subscription Services, MARCHIVE, and the Library Corporation.
Mr. Tabb praised Mr. Young for getting CDS "back on stride" and awarded sets of LCSH signed by Dr. Billington to:
- Lois Mai Chan, educator and author of the standard textbook on Library of Congress Subject Headings and the publication Library of Congress Subject Headings: Principles of Structure and Policies for Application;
- Shirley Loo, editor of the Legislative Indexing Vocabulary: The Congressional Research Service Thesaurus and an adviser on reference review for LCSH;
- Lucia Rather, director for Cataloging during the conversion of LCSH to machine-readable form and the publication of the first edition of Subject Cataloging Manual: Subject Headings;
- Barbara Tillett, chief of the Cataloging Policy and Support Office since 1994, who will lead LCSH into the 21st century with an integrated library system;
- Mary Kay Pietris, chief of the Subject Cataloging Division and the Office for Subject Cataloging Policy from 1978 to 1992, during which time the subject authority file went online and LCSH improved;
- Ed Blume, chief of the Subject Cataloging Division from 1972 to 1977; and
- Eugene Frosio, a subject cataloger in the Subject Cataloging Division from 1972 to 1982 and architect of the "free-floating subdivision system."
Ms. Fineberg is editor of The Gazette, the Library's staff newspaper.