January 17, 2022

New Controlled Vocabulary Under Development: Library of Congress Demographic Group Terms (LCDGT)

From the Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Directorate at the Library of Congress:

As part of its ongoing effort to provide effective access to library materials, the Library of Congress is developing a new vocabulary, entitled Library of Congress Demographic Group Terms (LCDGT). This vocabulary will be used to describe the creators of, and contributors to, resources, and also the intended audience of resources. It will be created and maintained by the Policy and Standards Division, and be distinct from the other vocabularies that are maintained by that division: Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials (LCGFT), and the Library of Congress Medium of Performance Thesaurus for Music (LCMPT).

The Policy and Standards Division (PSD) is accepting comments on the pilot vocabulary and the principles guiding its development through June 5, 2015.


The development of LCDGT is necessitated by two circumstances: the genre/form project and the growing popularity of faceted displays and searching

The genre/form project formed the original impetus for creating a demographic terms vocabulary. Some LC subject headings—most notably the form headings for literature—include demographic information (e.g., Children’s stories, American, in which stories is the form, children are the audience demographic, and American, the creator demographic). The use of LCSH form headings for works of literature will be phased out as LC genre/form terms for literature are implemented, necessitating another method for bringing out the audience and creator/contributor information. (LCSH form headings will still be assigned to works about literature.

[Our emphasis] New discovery interfaces also make a new vocabulary desirable. Subject headings such as Children’s stories, American are assigned to works about American children’s stories, and also to works that are American children’s stories, so the computer cannot distinguish between the two types of works.

LCGFT began to ameliorate this situation by allowing for a genre/form search, separate from a subject search. Users often want to know, though, what works a library has by a particular group (e.g., novels by lawyers), or for a particular group (e.g., handbooks for nurses). The demographic term vocabulary will fill the latter need. Together, LCSH, LCGFT, LCMPT, and LCDGT will allow for much more precision and flexibility in searching because terms within and across vocabularies can be mixed and matched to attain the level of specificity required.The intent of the pilot is to test the principles guiding the development of LCDGT, to provide consistent patterns for future development, and to generate discussion within the library community. There is no attempt at comprehensiveness within the pilot vocabulary.

Terms that highlight specific areas of concern (e.g., conflict situations; hierarchies) are included in order to provide examples and to form the basis for future development.


As with all proposals, once the terms are approved they may be used in cataloging records. PSD recommends that libraries wait until the second phase of development is completed before widely implementing LCDGT in cataloging, however; the vocabulary is not yet robust enough to support general use. The Library of Congress itself will not be implementing the terms immediately.

PSD welcomes comments on the guiding principles and on the terms themselves through June 5, 2015. Comments may be sent to Janis L. Young at jayo@loc.gov.

Direct to Tentative List of Demographic Group Terms

Primary Document

Library of Congress Demographic Group Terms: Introduction and Guiding Principles for the Pilot

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.