FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology)

Edward T. O'Neill and Lois Mai Chan presented at World Library and Information Congress: 69th IFLA General Conference and Council 1-9 August 2003, Berlin, FAST (Faceted Application of Subject Terminology): a simplified LCSH-based vocabulary -- scroll to find the presentation translated in English, French, German and Russian under heading 126. Classification and Indexing or download the PDF directly.


The Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) schema is by far the most commonly used and widely accepted subject vocabulary for general application. It is the de facto universal controlled vocabulary and has been a model for developing new subject heading systems around the world. However, LCSH’s complex syntax and rules for constructing headings restrict its application by requiring highly skilled personnel and limit the effectiveness of automated authority control. Recent trends, driven to a large extent by the rapid growth of the Web, are forcing changes in bibliographic control systems to make them easier to use, understand, and apply, and subject headings are no exception. The purpose of adapting the LCSH in a faceted schema with a simplified syntax is to retain the very rich vocabulary of LCSH while making it easier to understand, control, apply, and use. The FAST schema maintains upward compatibility with LCSH, and any valid set of LC subject headings can be converted to FAST headings. FAST consists of eight distinct facets. Authority records have been created for all established headings except for the chronological facet. The initial version of the FAST authority file will contain approximately two million authority records.