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Non-conformist cataloguing Jun 03

Speaking of libraries, and of people I hadn’t heard of until today, I was sent a link to a site about “legendary cataloger Sandy Berman“.

Berman, it turns out, is one of these awkward people who thinks he knows best and is prepared to take issue with authorities who disagree – and, in some respects at least, a good thing too. His most famous campaign seems to be an attempt to get the subject cataloguers at the Library of Congress to make their subject classifications more contemporary and reader-friendly (for example, using “Trucking” rather than “Transportation, Automotive-Freight”) and less discriminatory: Hennepin Country Library, where Berman was Head Cataloger, was using Apartheid as a subject heading in 1973; the Library of Congress recognised it in 1986.

In his 1971 book Prejudices and Antipathies: A Tract on the LC Subject Heads Concerning People Berman identifies unacceptable LC terms and gaps in terminology to do with ethnicity, religion, gender, sex, age, sexual orientation, labour, and developing countries, among others, and suggests replacements. Many headings that Berman created for “new concepts” and used in cataloging at the Hennepin County Library, such as “GAY RIGHTS”, “ACID RAIN”, and “PUNK ROCK MUSIC”, were later added to the LCSH.

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