User Tags versus Subject Headings

  • Rolla P
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Some members of the library community, including the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control, have suggested that libraries should open up their catalogs to allow users to add descriptive tags to the bibliographic data in catalog records. The website LibraryThing currently permits its members to add such user tags to its records for books and therefore provides a useful resource to contrast with library bibliographic records. A comparison between the LibraryThing tags for a group of books and the library-supplied subject headings for the same books shows that users and catalogers approach these descriptors very differently. Because of these differences, user tags can enhance subject access to library materials, but they cannot entirely replace controlled vocabularies such as the Library of Congress subject headings.




Rolla, P. J. (2009). User Tags versus Subject Headings. Library Resources & Technical Services, 53(3), 174–184.

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