Small Group Reflection – Building a Thesaurus

For our small group activity, we had to take a list of subjects and create a thesaurus. According the ISO, a thesaurus must be composed of terms rather than phrases (which often characterized subject headings). Based on that standard and our assignment, one of the easiest parts of this exercise was determining what would be preferred and non-preferred terms in the thesaurus. Everything else about this assignment was hard. During the entire time, I kept thinking how much easier it would be to work alone or have a bunch of index cards with one subject heading on each one. That way we could manipulate our lists in a much more intuitive way. My reactions to the exercise made me realize just how much work creating a comprehensive thesaurus or subject heading index really is. Our list only consisted of about 30 items. LCSH contains hundreds of thousands of subject headings with relators. Despite all the criticism LCSH gets, one has to have a lot of respect for a list that works so well despite its obvious deficiencies and for the people who maintain it.

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