Subject Access Committee Subcommittee on FAST Report
Qiang Jin, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The Subject Analysis Committee (SAC) Subcommittee on FAST of the Cataloging and Classification Section was established in the fall of 2004. Qiang Jin is the SAC Subcommittee on FAST Chair, 2004–2008.
The Subcommittee’s charge follows:
To explore the issues related to the implementation of the Faceted Application of Subject Terminology (FAST) subject heading schema and advise on: (1) the scope and suitability of the FAST vocabulary and syntax, (2) the FAST use of the MARC21 authority format, (3) adequacy of the FAST documentation, and (4) other relevant topics relating to the continuing development, maintenance, and implementation of FAST. The subcommittee should report on its progress at Midwinter and Annual Conferences and submit its final report by Midwinter 2008. SAC will examine the continued need for the subcommittee no later than 2008.
For the last three years, members of the SAC Subcommittee on FAST conducted several projects to evaluate the FAST project.
- First project: Members of the subcommittee looked at a sample of 5,000 LC-created bibliographic records for materials in different formats with LCSH and FAST headings to see whether those facets in isolation make sense to users, and whether it is the correct direction. The sample consisted of six of the FAST facets: topical, geographic (place), personal name, corporate name, form (type, genre), and chronological (time, period).
- Second project: A user study. Arlene Taylor was responsible for the project. Both Arlene Taylor’s subject analysis class and the subcommittee members (as users) looked at a sample of bibliographic records, including all WorldCat records within library science very broadly defined (all DDC 000 and LC A & Z). The objective of this phase was to see how users search for information using the FAST headings.
- Third project: Non-professional catalogers assign FAST headings. Some subcommittee members trained non-professional catalogers in their libraries to assign FAST headings. Shannon Hoffman was responsible for the project.
The results of the preceding three projects were presented at the program at ALA Annual 2006 titled “FAST–A New System of Subject Access for Cataloging and Metadata.”
- Fourth project: The subcommittee members assigned FAST headings to 70 complex search terms found by Arlene Taylor through a university library transaction log to test against FAST. The suggestion was that the subcommittee members assigned the FAST headings for the concepts as if there were a book on the topic. Lynn El-Hoshy and Pat Kuhr assigned LCSH. Arlene Taylor was responsible for the project. She presented a detailed analysis at the subcommittee meeting at ALA Annual 2007. The subcommittee members compared the differences between the FAST and LCSH results at the subcommittee committee meeting.
- Fifth project: The subcommittee looked at a sample of bibliographic records of the last two FAST facets: events (conference and meeting names) and uniform titles. The subcommittee members provided the FAST team with some feedback at the meeting at ALA Annual 2007.
The subcommittee members will examine a random sample of bibliographic records with all FAST facets in the fall of 2007. We will discuss issues concerning the sample with the FAST team at our meeting at ALA Midwinter 2008.