There’s a subject heading for that!?!: telematics

11 Mar

Tele-what? Yes, “telematics” is the subject heading of inquiry this week.

When I stumbled across this one the other day, like Link opening a dungeon treasure chest, I knew it was exactly what I needed to finish my record, which is oddly similar to finishing a level in Zelda–on a quest to find those perfect subject headings and gather all the information needed to complete the record.

Here’s a screenshot of the LC Authority File for “telematics”:

Basically, “telematics” encompasses the use of computers for communication and the exchange of information. The book in hand at the time dealt with computer use in classes (i.e. computer-assisted instruction), email, blogs, SMS, and other information technology in education. While “internet in education” and “telecommunication in education” provide a good base, “telematics” helped bring out more detail as to what the book was about. There are 61 items in the LC catalog with the plain subject heading and many more with geographical subdivisions. And even some with the “law and legislation” subdivision that sound intriguing.

Cataloging involves lots of learning and demands curiosity and questioning in order to ensure that the most accurate and best sub. head. are used for an item. The book’s title involved the phrase “computer-mediated communication” which to me sounded like jargon so I didn’t search it in the authority file. Instead, my browsing the LC catalog allowed me to find “telematics” and discover that “computer-mediated communication” is a 450 for “telematics”!

However, this is another sub. head. that feels like it was made for librarians by fellow librarians. What patron would ever type “telematics” in the catalog or even know to click on it in a record? Do people really know what it means when they see it? I didn’t. Perhaps that is where the reference librarians enter the picture, in one aspect, to navigate the catalog and its records in order to help patrons find just what they are looking for and other related items of interest, too.

Even though catalogers hand-pick subject headings, it would be much more helpful to have headings that make sense even to us from first glance. Many already are self-explanitory but in cases such as “telematics”, clarity could improve not only the subject heading but also it’s use. But at the end of the day, we have to make do the best we can with what we have. I was just glad to find that 450 in “telematics”.


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