Monthly Archives: March 2013

There’s a Subject Heading for That!?: Coenobita clypeatus as pets

I stumbled upon this subject heading while cataloging animal drawing books, which I’ve seen more than I care to count recently. Okay, this exact sub. head. wasn’t used but the pattern was in the record. Thankfully the LC Authority File explains that Coenobita clypeatus (row 87 in the screenshot) is the hermit crab that most stores sell. My sister and I had a few–one to latched onto my palm, though didn’t do any actual damage; that’s about my only memory of those things.

LC Authority File search results (portion!)

The subject heading pattern, as you can tell, is “_____ as pets”. Sounds straight forward and your mind is probably generating a few as you read this. Here’s the fascinating part…there are currently 454 unique headings, with several variants that aren’t authorized headings. Log on to the LC Authority FIle to see the full range by typing “as pets” in the search box and selecting “Keyword Authorities (All)” before clicking “Begin Search”. This is a new way to search for me that I will keep at the ready for pesky topics in the future!

LC Authority File search box

From African bullfrogs as pets to Worms as pets bookend the rather intriguing list, though they sound like they could be pets compared to others. Preceding worms is Wood lice (Crustaceans) as pets that look eerily similar to cockroaches. Cephalopoda, cheetahs, Grant’s rhinoceros beetles, kinkajous, boas and pythons of various types, all sorts of lizards including the Hydrosaurus, and there’s even a catch-all for insects besides some specific ones with their own headings.

My favorite is Basilisks (Reptiles) as pets since all that I could think of was Harry Potter and the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets. Seriously, typing in basilisk into Wikipedia brings up the mythological creature by default, and offers up a tiny disambiguation link at the very top of the entry. This showcases another inconsistency within LC subject headings: common names and scientific names are randomly used when setting up a heading rather than preferring one over the other and making a reference to the other in the heading.

LC Authority File Basilisks (reptiles) as pets

Oddly enough, skunks as pets doesn’t shock me because I have looked after a pet skunk, holding it like a kitten as it squirmed to in attempts to escape and run around. Much like ferrets, some of her glands had been removed. Actually very cute, especially since she was still young and thus small.

Now before the kids, or adults, in the library get very excited about all of these new subject headings that you can show them to use, obviously not all are real pets. The easiest example from this list is the classic dinosaurs as pets, made famous by the 1958 book listed in the record.

LC Authority File Dinosaurs as petsI hate to disappoint but sometimes life is like that. That heading is only used in fiction, at least as of 2013. However, can I interest you in a degu?

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Posted by on March 25, 2013 in Uncategorized


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