Subject Terms - some guidelines
1. Use a thesaurus when choosing indexing terms for Subjects.
2. Keep Subject terms simple and direct.
There is no need in a computer catalogue to include qualifying terms
For example: Hospitals – Sandringham – History
Instead use separate terms for Hospitals and Sandringham.
If the catalogue is primarily on the history of the area the term History can be taken as a given and there would normally be no need to use it.
3. When cataloguing get to know the searching power / capabilities of the database and decide how best to use the features to help the users of the catalogue locate the required items.
4. If the database allows for Boolean searching, select terms that will allow a researcher to use this feature.
For example terms for a photograph of Bayswater West Primary School would include:
Bayswater West Primary School
Using the above Subject terms a researcher would be able to locate items in the catalogue
(a) Specifically on Bayswater West Primary School
(b) Relating to Schools in general
(c) Relating to Bayswater in general
(d)On Schools in Bayswater by combining the terms Schools and Bayswater in a search
(e)On Schools from different areas excluding Bayswater
5. Know the collection and the terms that will help researchers access the items in the collection.
Determine the main themes and when items catalogued relate to one of those themes ensure that the term for that theme is included in the Subjects field for that item.
6. When cataloguing always try to think of terms that a researcher may need to find an item. Try and think from the viewpoint of the user.
7. Card catalogues, due to the size of cards, inhibited the number of Subjects used. Computer catalogues allow for more extensive use of Subjects, if required. However keep the Subjects relevant to the item being catalogued and remember that in cataloguing Subject terms are used to help locate an item, not necessarily to index the item.