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Cataloging: Using Medical Subject Headings (MeSH®) in Cataloging

Module 3—Selecting the Main Concept

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General Principles

  • Search the concepts you have identified as the major topics in the MeSH Browser, and see if you can find the term used by MeSH for that concept
  • Assign subject headings that accurately and completely describe the item, without redundancy. Use the most specific headings available, but if more than 3 needed specific terms are in the same tree, use the broader term
  • In general, only assign MeSH headings for concepts that cover at least 20% of the work being cataloged. The maximum number of subjects assigned rarely exceeds 6-7 terms
    • Example: In a book of 35 chapters, do not assign terms that only apply to a single chapter
  • Where relevant, assign heading(s) for the appropriate disease, organ or system
  • Assign terms for appropriate age groups if particularly discussed
  • Distinguish between the specialty and the disease
    • Cardiology is for works about the field or profession
    • Heart Diseases is for works about the disease

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