Social Tagging, Library of Congress’ Subject Headings, and Library Catalogs, 2Over the past several years the explosion of information associated with thedigitization of information resources has led to the creation of systems for user-createdtags, also known as collaborative tags. These systems allow users of electronicinformation resources to assign tags, of relevance to the user, to the information objectitself. These tags, however, are separate from the traditional form of “tagging” in thelibrary catalog, specifically the Library of Congress Subject Headings. These headings,alternatively referred to as Library of Congress Authorities, and referred to as LCSH inthis paper, are a massive collection of controlled vocabulary words used for thedescription of subjects, organization, places, and individuals in library catalog records.Both social tags and LCSH provide useful and helpful access points for catalog users.Furthermore, both systems offer strengths and weaknesses, which are complimentary toone another. This paper looks briefly at each system and the proposed methods by whichsocial tags and the LCSH can be integrated in a way that will help the user to find theinformation resources they seek.As pointed out in the Macgregor (2006) article, controlled vocabularies performmany useful functions, including:
Managing synonyms and other easily confused terms – This prevents thedescription of one “thing” by many terms. For example, without a controlledvocabulary, items about George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush might both bedescribed through the term “George Bush.” A controlled vocabulary ensures thatthe terms are unique, as well as consistent, across catalogs thereby increasing theease of searching for users.
Discriminates between homonyms – This function eliminates the confusion between similar sounding or spelled words with different meanings. For example,a user searching for the term “bark” might be searching for information about tree bark, but find information only about the sound a dog makes. Controlledvocabularies reduce the confusion between homonyms.
Refers user to appropriate terms – From the example above, if a user searches for “George Bush” in the catalog, the references under the controlled vocabularyheading will allow the catalog to offer “See under” links, allowing the user toconnect to the specific information they are seeking. In the example, the catalog