Short Subjects

When PLAFSEP magazine asked its readers to nominate the silliest library subject heading, the hands-down winner was BUTTOCKS (IN RELIGION, FOLK-LORE, ETC.).

Other highlights, gathered by columnist John R. Likins:

  • AMERICAN GIANT CHECKERED RABBIT
  • BANKRUPTCY–POPULAR WORKS 
  • CATASTROPHICAL, THE, see also COMIC, THE 
  • CHILD ABUSE–STUDY AND TEACHING 
  • CONTANGO AND BACKWARDATION 
  • DENTISTS IN ART 
  • FANTASTIC TELEVISION PROGRAMS 
  • FOOD, JUNK 
  • GHOSTS–PICTORIAL WORKS 
  • GOD–ADDRESSES, ESSAYS, LECTURES 
  • HEMORRHOIDS–POPULAR WORKS 
  • JESUS CHRIST–PERSON AND OFFICES 
  • LABORATORY ANIMALS–CONGRESSES 
  • LOVE NESTS–DIRECTORIES 
  • MANURE HANDLING 
  • MUD LUMPS 
  • ODORS IN THE BIBLE 
  • PRAYERS FOR ANIMALS 
  • SICK–FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS 
  • URINARY DIVERSIONS, see also URINE DANCE
  • WASPS (PERSONS)

That’s from Likins’ article “Subject Headings, Silly, American–20th Century–Complications and Sequelae–Addresses, Essays, Lectures,” in Technical Services Quarterly, vol. 2, no. 1/2, Fall/Winter 1984, using data from the Library of Congress and Cataloging in Publication.

In The Library at Night (2006), Alberto Manguel gives these:

  • Banana research 
  • Bat binding 
  • Boots and shoes in art 
  • Chickens in religion and folklore 
  • Sewage: collected works 
  • Sex: cause and determination 
  • Tic: see also toc

And the Whole Library Handbook (1991) offers these, collected by the Library of Congress Professional Association: 

  • Adult children 
  • Beehives; see Bee–Housing 
  • Diving for men 
  • Drug abuse — Programmed instruction 
  • Feet in the Bible 
  • Hand — Surgery — Juvenile literature 
  • Lord’s Supper — Reservation 
  • Low German wit and humor 
  • Monotone operators 
  • Running races in rabbinical literature 
  • Standing on one foot; see One-leg resting position 
  • Stupidity; see Inefficiency, Intellectual

I think some of these may now be out of date, but there’s certainly no shortage of curious headings — in doing research for this site I recently ran across “Raccoon — Biography.”

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