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Classification: Library of Congress subject headings

Why libraries use controlled vocabularies, & focus on LC subject heading construction, emphasising topical and geographic subject headings & subdivisions.

Course Overview

Subject headings are controlled lists of terms or phrases used to describe the subject content of items in library catalogues and databases in a consistent way. Also known as subject terms, thesaurus terms, descriptors, controlled indexing language or controlled vocabularies—these are official indexing terms used by the organisers of library catalogues and databases to describe concepts so that all items on the same topic share the same descriptor or subject heading. Controlled vocabularies facilitate efficient searching and retrieval, and enable end users to explore a library’s information resources.

The best-known, and most widely used controlled vocabulary or thesaurus is the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). In this short course we provide an overview of why libraries use controlled vocabularies, and focus on the basics of LC subject heading construction, with an emphasis on topical and geographic subject headings and subdivisions.

This is a three-week professional development course. You will receive a Certificate of Participation upon the successful completion of this course.

Course Content

Overview of controlled vocabularies / thesauri

Library of Congress Subject headings (LCSH)

Structure and preferred terms
Topical subject headings
Free floating subdivisions
Geographic headings and subdivision practice

Right for you if...

Work in the library and information sector and / or have an interest in cataloguing, indexing or metadata.

Would like to increase your knowledge of tools, methods, and library practices to assist in the cataloguing or subject description of collections

Course Delivery

Contact with facilitators will be through online forums on Moodle (the online Learning Management System used by TAFE NSW for these courses).

Participants will connect with each other through forum discussions.

There are no specific times you need to be available.

The time investment required is approximately 5 hours per week, depending on the individual.

The course is designed to be completed in 3 weeks but as it is developed to be self paced, it is possible to finish a little earlier or later depending on your learning styles and needs. However, if you wish to vary the usual time taken, please discuss this with your teacher.

Participants require a computer with internet access.

In partnership with...

Our training partner for this course is TAFE NSW. TAFE NSW is the leading provider of vocational education and training in Australia. Each year, more than 500,000 students enrol in their nationally recognised courses and training.

What to expect once you have registered

Following the close of registrations, which is 9 October (midnight), we will be in contact with you before the course commences to provide you with further information about the next steps of enrolment: TAFE student registration and Moodle login set up.


More information

p.    1800 020 071

e.    [email protected]


Cancellation Policy

Registrations up to 3 weeks prior = full refund
Registrations between 1-2 weeks prior = 50% refund
Registrations cancelled 1 week prior or later = no refund
Registrations can be transferred to other individuals at no cost (in the same registration category).  
Contact [email protected] for information.

17/10/2023 - 6/11/2023
Online registration not available.


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Help us increase opportunities for First Nations colleagues 

ALIA is working towards increasing opportunities and removing barriers for our First Nations library and information sector colleagues to participate in our conferences and events, and has established a bursary for First Nations event attendance. If you would like to contribute to this effort, please select a gift amount below. Please note that gifts to the bursary are not eligible for tax deduction.

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