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Mapping the semantic landscape: using online textual analysis to quantify feminist vocabulary within Women's Studies collections

Welsh, A; (2010) Mapping the semantic landscape: using online textual analysis to quantify feminist vocabulary within Women's Studies collections. Presented at: Digital Methods, Cultural Politics and Feminist Approaches, University of Sussex. Green open access

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Abstract

Access to information can be aided or inhibited by successful subject arrangement in both physical and virtual libraries. As an interdisciplinary subject, Women’s Studies has been well-documented as presenting challenges for subject organisation, with women and our impact being a possible topic within any other subject discipline. Women’s Studies librarians have long pointed out the inadequacy of the most prevalent system of subject headings in UK and USA academic libraries, Library of Congress Subject Headings, which assumes that “men are the norm and women are the exception” (Gerhard, Mila and Rubens, 1998). Libraries that adopt Library of Congress Classification (LCC) for the arrangement of their collection find Women’s Studies materials split “into hundreds of LCC lines.” (Intner and Futas, 1996). It has been stated that “Anything that doesn’t fall within a white, male, Anglo, able-bodied, straight, Eurocentric, Cartesian mainstream is likely to be difficult for users to find if only conventional cataloguing is employed” (Olson, 1998). Scholarship in the 1990s focused on documenting the representation of women in mainstream classification and subject heading systems. Standard manual textual analysis techniques complementing standard collection management checklist approaches (cf.Bolton 2009) have been employed to map out subject coverage within Women’s Studies collections. Collections studied tend to be based in the USA and general (non-political) in focus. The growth of the Internet, the lowering in costs of IT equipment and the development of easy to install and use documentation software has led to an increase in the visibility of small, feminist special collections. At the same time there have been developments in textual analysis, with free tools for quantitative analysis available online. This paper uses manual and online textual analysis to compare subject headings used by specialist collections of feminist literature with Library of Congress Subject Headings. In doing so it attempts to begin to quantify the semantic differences in feminist collection arrangement.

Type: Conference item (UNSPECIFIED)
Title: Mapping the semantic landscape: using online textual analysis to quantify feminist vocabulary within Women's Studies collections
Event: Digital Methods, Cultural Politics and Feminist Approaches
Location: University of Sussex
Dates: 2010-07-10
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Subject headings, LCSH, Women's Studies, Feminist collections, Information seeking
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1413957
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