So a cataloger will look at the object-- usually a book, but it can also be a CD or DVD or magazine or any other object that a library owns and wants people to find-- and assign official subject heading(s) to it, taken from an approved list, such as the Library of Congress Subject Headings.
Examples of LCSH subject headings:
- Farm life in mass media
- Human behavior-- endocrine aspects
- Male Friendship-- religious aspects
This week, as a result of a reference question about homeschooling curricula, I stumbled upon a record in our system-wide catalog of this book: The Science of the Physical Creation in Christian Perspective.
It's basically a textbook for creationism.
Okay, fine. I know such books exist. I'm not naive enough to think that such a book wouldn't appeal to a certain demographic. And I'm a librarian-- I'm not going to argue that we remove all misguided voodoo tracts from our collection.
However, what bothered me about the creationism textbook was its catalog record, which had the following subject headings attached to it:
- Science -- Study and teaching (Secondary)
- Geophysics -- Study and teaching (Secondary)
- Creationism -- Study and teaching.
- Science -- Religious aspects -- Christianity.
- Geophysics -- Religious aspects -- Christianity.
- Bible and evolution.
- Religion and science.
Even if the cataloger was just trying to be a thorough and conscientious librarian, it seems like an unwitting political act. Don't label it a science textbook unless it includes real science.