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Sears List of Subject Headings 20th Edition

Sears List of Subject Headings 20th Edition 2010

ISBN: 9780824211059

Since the first edition in 1923, the Sears List has served the unique needs of small and medium-sized libraries, suggesting headings appropriate for use in their catalogs and providing patterns and instructions for adding new headings as they are required.

The successive editors of the List have faced the need to accommodate change while maintaining a sound continuity.

The new and revised headings in each edition reflect developments in the material catalogued, in the use of the English language, and in cataloging theory and practice.

The aim is always to make library collections as easily available as possible to library users.

The Principles of the Sears List, which follows this Preface, is intended both as a statement of the theoretical foundations of the Sears List and as a concise introduction to subject cataloging in general.

The List of Commonly Used Subdivisions, which follows the Principles, lists, for the purpose of easy reference, every subdivision for which there is a provision in the List, no matter how specialized.

For every subdivision there is also an entry in the alphabetical List with full instructions for the use of that particular subdivision.

There are also many examples of the use of subdivisions, emphasizing that the use of subdivisions is an essential method of expanding and adapting the List to a library’s particular needs.

What is new in this edition

The major feature of this new edition of the Sears List is the inclusion of more than three hundred new subject headings.

New headings in this edition reflect the growing literature in the areas of ecology and environment, such as Rainforest ecology, Grassland ecology, Climate change, and Sustainable agriculture. Headings have been established for all the various kinds of dinosaurs, such as Raptorex, Pteranodon, and Edmontosaurus.

The literature on dinosaurs continues to expand, both in adult materials and in titles for children and young adults. New trends in social networking are represented with new headings such as Twitter (Web site) and Facebook (Web site). A number of new headings for arts and crafts have been established, such as Acrylic painting and Wire craft. In these and other areas many provisions have been added for creating more new headings as needed. Many of the headings new to this edition were suggested by librarians representing various sizes and types of libraries, by commercial vendors of bibliographic records, and by the catalogers, indexers, and subject specialists at the H.W. Wilson Company.

The most significant revision in this edition deals with subject headings relating to Russia and India. Where materials on Russia were formerly separated among three headings: Russia, Soviet Union, and Russia (Federation), there is now a single heading, simply Russia.

For the convenience of librarians maintaining their catalogs, these revisions and all other revisions are spelled out in the List of Canceled and Replacement Headings found on page xlii.

Another revision in this edition is the addition of more than 1,400 notes indicating that headings may be subdivided geographically. The rationale for subdividing or not subdividing a heading geographically has been expanded in the Principles of the Sears List under Geographic Subdivision.

Additional scope notes have also been added in this edition to identify form/genre headings. Now every heading in the List that may be used for individual works and collections as well as for materials about a topic, such as Picture dictionaries, is so identified. This note indicates that in cataloging a heading can be coded as a form or genre heading rather than as a topical subject.

A History of the Sears List

Minnie Earl Sears prepared the first edition of this work in response to demands for a list of subject headings

The Scope of the Sears List

New topics appear every day, and books on those topics require new subject headings. Headings for new topics can be developed from the Sears List in two ways, by establishing new terms as needed and by subdividing the headings already in the List.

Form of Headings

The Sears List still reflects the usage of the Library of Congress unless there is some compelling reason to vary, but those instances of variation have become numerous over the years.

Scope Notes

All the new and revised headings in this edition have been provided with scope notes where such notes are required. Scope notes are intended to clarify the specialized use of a term or to distinguish between terms that might be confused. If there is any question of what a term means, the cataloger should simply consult a dictionary.


The classification numbers in this edition of Sears are taken from the Abridged WebDewey, the continuously updated online version of the Abridged Dewey Decimal Classification. The numbers are intended only to direct the cataloger to a place in the DDC schedules where material on that subject is often found.

Style, Filing, Etc.

For spelling and definitions the editor has relied upon Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged (1961) and the Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, 2nd ed., revised and updated (1997). Capitalization and the forms of corporate and geographic names used as examples are based on the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd ed., 2002 revision. The filing of entries follows the ALA Filing Rules (1980).

Every term in the List that may be used as a subject heading is printed in boldface type whether it is a main term; a term in a USE reference; a broader, narrower, or related term; or an example in a scope note or general reference. If a term is not printed in boldface type, it is not used as a heading.

Other Related Books
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Sears List of Subject Headings, Canadian Companion Sixth Edition
Sears List, Spanish Edition
Library of Congress Subject Headings 2013
Abridged 16



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