LINGUIST List 11.1194

Thu May 25 2000

FYI: IR/Document Classification, New Web Interface

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Lois Boggess, Web interface for Library of Congress Subject Headings

Message 1: Web interface for Library of Congress Subject Headings

Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 15:36:31 -0500 (CDT)
From: Lois Boggess <lboggessCS.MsState.EDU>
Subject: Web interface for Library of Congress Subject Headings

	The KUDZU group at Mississippi State University is making available a
	web-based interface to a database of the Library of Congress Subject
	Headings. These subject headings are a loose hierarchy of phrases
	which have been used for document classification for over a century.
	They range from the very general ("Astronomy") to the specific
	("Chiral drugs", which is a subtopic of "Enantiomers", which is a
	subtopic of "Optical isomers", which is a subtopic of "Stereoisomers",
	which is a subtopic of "Stereochemistry", which is a subtopic of "Chemistry").
	The URL is
	The Library of Congress Subject Headings are not as fully developed as
	any of the professional classification hierarchies, but the system has
	more breadth than any single domain-specific professional hierarchy
	that we know of.
	The web interface developed at MSU prompts for a search string. If
	the search string matches a subject heading, then the interface
	displays the information associated with that subject heading -
	superclasses (which LC calls "broader topics") subclasses ("narrower
	topics"), phrases which are roughly synonymous ("use for"), associated
	call numbers, and the Library of Congress's listing of subdivisions of
	a class (which is not the same thing as the subclasses of the class).
	The interface/database does not try to "improve" on the literal
	information provided by the LCSH hierarchy as published by the Library
	of Congress. However, it does make suggestions if a search is
	unsuccessful. For example, if a search string is "oxidation", which
	is a subject heading, the system returns only those topics
	specifically related to that subject heading by the published Library
	of Congress documentation. On the other hand, if the search string is
	"reduction", which is not an LCSH, the interface returns all the
	subject headings which contain the term "reduction", about sixty of
	them in all, including the subject heading "oxidation-reduction
	reaction", which is pertinent to "oxidation" but doesn't show up even
	as a related topic in the formal LCSH documentation for that subject
	This tool was made possible by an REU grant from the 
	National Science Foundation, under grant # IIS-9734807
	Lois Boggess

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