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The old and the prudish: an examination of sex, sexuality, and queerness in Library of Congress Classification


Despite the fact that scholarship and knowledge about sex and sexuality have grown enormously in the last century, these topics in the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) schedules have remained stagnant, particularly in the HQ schedule (a classification subclass), entitled “The Family. Marriage. Women.” In this schedule, multiple structural issues in organization and placement of topics demonstrate a deeply sex negative attitude that has seen relatively little change in over a century. This article takes a deep dive into the negative attitudes toward sex and sexuality in the LCC HQ schedule, analyzing the ways in which sex negativity manifests structurally in LCC, and is informed by a thematic review of schedule editions between 1910 and 2020. It turns critical efforts that are traditionally applied to the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) in critical cataloging literature, to the deeper underlying structure of LCC. Though critiques and shortcomings of both LCC and LCSH on the treatment of LGBTQIA+ topics are well noted in the literature, very few examine the underpinnings of LGBTQIA+ marginalization as informed by sex negativity. This article examines some major issues in the HQ schedule with an eye toward providing a roadmap for future revisions. We aim for readers to realize what it means for structural inequity to exist in LCC, the harm that that structural inequity can impart, and to take a critical eye to the foundational classification used within numerous libraries, beyond the subject headings overlaying and masking that classification

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    The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

    Last time updated on 09/06/2022

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