Category: theological librarianship

Miscellaneous thoughts on subject headings starting with ‘M’

I don’t like being home from work sick, and I thought I should do something useful. So today I have been correcting the subject headings starting with ‘M’ of my library catalogue. (For a couple of years, this has been an ongoing project.) It might sound like a job only the most boring librarian would think worthwhile, but duplicate or incorrect subject headings make it much harder to find similar books on the catalogue. When they’re set right, the catalogue becomes so much more useful.

Going through the Ms has taken me across so many different elements of theology, history and wider world, and given me a fresh sense of the attempt by the Library of Congress to classify all this information with uniform headings.

A couple of times, the theological bias towards the established church in an early 20th century mindset show through.

First example – ‘ministry’ is not an authorised heading. You have to choose between ‘Clergy – office of’ or ‘Church work’, neither of which quite get to what Baptists (it is a Baptist library) and other free church evangelicals mean by ‘ministry’. It is not confined to the ordained clergy; it is something for all Christians to do. And neither is it confined to ‘church work’.

Second example – ‘mission’ is not an authorised heading. You have to choose between ‘missions’, ‘evangelistic work’ and ‘mission of the church’, none of which quite get to what evangelicals mean these days by the word. It betrays an old mindset where ‘missions’ were foreign, ‘evangelistic work’ was something done at home, and neither were probably connected to the everyday believer.

And here are the four most interesting random facts I have learnt:

  • Macrina the Younger was 4th century saint who some claim to be a universalist.
  • Marshall, Catherine – I see so many of her books go past in the booksale, especially Christy and A Man Called Peter. The thing which struck me about her Wikipedia article, was that although she remarried after her famous first husband died,  she was still buried next to him when she died three decades after him. I wonder how the second husband felt? Maybe he was understanding of his place in things.
  • Bible scholar C.F.D. Moule had an open life-span(1908-) and I thought he must have died by now. He had, but only just – 2007. Poor guy nearly hung on for his century.
  • ‘Muggletonians’ sounds quite Harry Potterish, but refers to an apocalyptic 17th century English sect, the last member of which died in 1979. Imagine if you were the last one in the world?