Controlled Vocabularies for Music at the Library of Congress

Christopher Holden (Library of Congress)


Library of Congress subject headings (LCSH) traditionally have been used in the Music Division of the Library of Congress to provide subject access to musical materials. This vocabulary was developed in the early 20th century for use with card catalogs. Decades of vocabulary expansion and the development of new digital search strategies have made the LCSH ill-suited for searching for music. Recently, two new vocabularies have been developed – the Library of Congress Genre/Form Thesaurus (LCGFT) and the Library of Congress Medium of Performance Thesaurus (LCMPT), to take advantage of new faceted search techniques. This presentation will examine the impact of the LCGFT and LCMPT on music discovery, looking at specific examples and comparing them to the previous LCSH. It will end with a discussion of the future of cataloging musical materials.

Chris Holden is a senior cataloger at the Music Division of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, where he has worked since 2017. He holds a B.A. degree in music and philosophy from Kenyon College, and M.A. degree in Humanities from Florida State University, and an MSLS degree in library science from the University of Chapel Hill at North Carolina. Chris is active in the Music Library Association, where he recently finished a 5 year term as the editor of the Music Cataloging Bulletin, and IAML, where he serves as Secretary of the Cataloguing Committee.