New MeSH deconstructed headings

Written by Joan on March 24, 2016. Posted in Blog

In 2001, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) provided instructions for deconstructing MeSH subjects to conform to NLM practices.  However, this practice was not widely embraced by libraries using MeSH. Periodic surveys conducted by NLM determined that half of the libraries preferred pre-coordinated subject headings, while the other half preferred faceted headings.  As a result, NLM continued to distribute bib records with pre-coordinated headings, but used faceted terms in-house.

MARCIVE watched these developments to determine what services were desired by libraries.  Over time there was an increased interest in faceted headings so we developed a profile option for our MeSH customers.  Since October 2005 MARCIVE customers have been able to specify whether they wanted pre-coordinated or deconstructed MeSH processing.

Beginning with the December 2015 distribution of new records in CATFILE and SERFILE, NLM subject terms (MeSH) will be distributed with topical subjects recorded in 650 $a or 650 $a $x; geographic subjects recorded in 651 $a or 651 $a $x; and publication type/genre terms record in 655 $a.  In January 2016, the entire CATFILE and SERFILE databases were released with these updates made to all the records.  NLM recommends downloading the full update to have local data consistent with the NLM files.  Catalogers in other libraries are encouraged to follow the NLM practice when assigning MeSH.

How does this now affect our authorities processing customers with MeSH headings?  In December of 2015 we modified our processing to automatically deconstruct MeSH subject headings for all customers.


Old form (with string)
650 12   $a Health Policy $z Africa $v Congresses
650 12   $a Health Policy $z Caribbean Region $v Congresses
650 22   $a Cross Cultural Comparison $z Africa $v Congresses
650 22   $a Cross Cultural Comparison $z Caribbean Region $v Congresses

New form (deconstructed)
650 12   $a Health Policy
650 22   $a Cross Cultural Comparison
651   2   $a Africa
651   2   $a Caribbean Region
655   2   $a Congresses

We encourage our customers using MeSH headings to contact us with any questions or comments regarding the new format.  Your input is welcome!

Written by Joan Chapa, MLS and Mary Mastraccio, MLS.


Tags: , , , , ,