About the Files
The print-ready PDF files for the Library of Congress Subject Headings Manual (SHM) are available for download at http://www.loc.gov/aba/publications/FreeSHM/freeshm.html.
This data is updated as changes are approved. Because of steadily declining demand and increasing printing costs, SHM is being made available as free downloadable PDF files. For users desiring enhanced functionality, SHM will continue as part of the web-based subscription product, Cataloger's Desktop.
FROM THE PREFACE TO THE 2008 EDITION
A "preliminary edition" of the Subject Cataloging Manual: Subject Headings was published in 1984, a "revised edition" in 1985, the third edition in 1988, the fourth in 1991, and the fifth in 1996. The fourth and fifth editions were updated semiannually during the years 1991-2008. For this 2008 edition, the title has been changed to Subject Headings Manual. The text is essentially a recompilation of the text of the fifth edition with minor revisions and updates that have been made since the publication of the final update to the fifth edition, which was published in spring 2008.
The manual was originally conceived as an in-house procedure manual addressed to cataloging staff at the Library of Congress. From the very beginning, however, the manual included not only procedures and practices to be followed by LC catalogers but also substantive explanations of subject cataloging policy. Other libraries who wished to catalog in the same manner as the Library of Congress as well as faculty at schools of library science who wished to teach Library of Congress subject cataloging policies to their students, urged the Library to publish this staff manual in order to make the policy information readily available to others.
In the years since the manual was first published, its audience has grown larger and more diverse. With the widespread use of bibliographic utilities and library networks that has occurred in the last two decades, and with the advent of various cooperative cataloging programs, the need for standardization of subject cataloging policy and consistency in practice has become even greater.
In recognition of the fact that the manual continues to serve as an important tool for Library of Congress catalogers, and that users outside the Library of Congress now constitute an ever larger audience, a survey was conducted by a task group of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging in 1994-95 to solicit ideas for improvements to the manual. Suggestions from that survey were incorporated into the fifth edition of the manual and are carried over into this 2008 edition. The most significant of these include the following:
- Examples are presented in most cases with full MARC 21 content designation.
- Boldface paragraph titles have been added to the individual sections within each instruction sheet to make it possible to locate specific policies or instructions more quickly and easily.
- Many instruction sheets have been expanded, reorganized, and rewritten for greater clarity.
- New instruction sheets have been added, covering such topics as chronological subdivisions, mergers and splits of jurisdictions, artistic photography, cooking and cookbooks, databases, electronic serials, and the subdivision —Songs and music
- Instruction sheets have been added that provide summaries of cataloging procedures in the field of music and literature.
- The general instruction sheet on assigning and constructing subject headings has been revised and expanded, and a new introductory instruction sheet on subdivisions has been added.
- Many cataloging practices that had been observed at the Library of Congress as part of its "oral tradition" are now documented in writing for the first time.
- The general lists of free-floating subdivision (H 1095-H 1140) now include references to other instruction sheets that explain the use of individual subdivisions.
- Form subdivisions are explicitly identified as such in all lists of free-floating subdivisions.
- Where possible, procedures that apply specifically and only to Library of Congress staff have been identified with the caption "LC practice:," enabling other users to ignore the section that follows if they wish.
- Where possible, more generic language has been substituted for language that in previous editions was meaningful only to Library of Congress staff.
- A glossary has been provided, defining technical terms that are commonly used throughout the text of the manual.
Policy and Standards Division