Sometimes subject headings lead you astray, and for me, “human engineering” proved to be just that! At face value, I thought, sure must be related to cloning. Seemed odd that another sub. head. was needed to cover the topic, so I investigated–no surprise there.
Also, having asked another librarian friend his thoughts about the term, his initial impression suggested the it covered either 1) building robots or 2) developing humans. Both which get at a similar idea to my cloning relation, since all three hinge on the word “engineering” yet combine it with “human” in a specific scientific, almost sci-fi, sense for technologic advancement.
However, that is not the case at all. Which is why “human engineering” exists in addition to the sub. head. “cloning” or even “human cloning.” In fact, there are more records with the former sub. head. (932) than the later (60) and (20).
Enough suspense, here’s the reveal…this subject heading is about ergonomics for humans:
The 550s, see also notes, suggest looking up “human comfort” and “human-robot interaction” as well for related items and topics. The 680 helps explain the sub. head. very well compared to some records: “here are entered works on engineering design with reference to man’s anatomical, physiological, and psychological capabilities and limitations.” Even without this scope note, the record would convey the meaning of this sub. head. anyway because of the other terms and fields it contains.
While it’s a great LC Authority FIle record, this just goes to show that a subject heading isn’t always what it appears to be at first glance. Regardless of whether a heading is new or well-used by use as a cataloger, my suggestion is to take the extra few seconds to check the authority file and make sure the meaning in your mind is the one that LC means as well. You may be spot on, or in this case like myself you may learn something new!