Classification Politics

Just before Spring Break in my Organization of Information class, which is the introduction to library cataloging and classification schemes, our professor Candy launched into the segment of the course devoted to Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), which are used in many English-language libraries worldwide.

My friend Aiden has been doing research--and enthusiastically passing materials along to me--on the concept of classification as a form of oppression. The connection seems obvious: any time that you construct a schema for organizing ideas, you make choices about how to arrange those ideas, what associations to make between ideas, and how to label those ideas so that others can find them. Therefore, I was tickled when Candy just happened to illustrate her lecture on subject headings with the following example:

"United States--Annexations"
USE: "United States--Territorial Expansions"

Ah, yes. An early example of spin.

So I look forward to seeing where Aiden goes with his classification activism! If he makes any progress, I'll let you all know :).

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