Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Library and Information Science


Library and Information Science

First Advisor

Hope A. Olson

Committee Members

John M. Budd, Steven Miller


Aboutness Determination, Cataloging, Hermeneutic Phenomenology, Indexing, Subject Analysis, Subject Headings


This research is interested in the cataloguer's lived experience of aboutness determination. Aboutness determination, a part of subject cataloguing where the cataloguer attempts to identify the subject matter of a resource, is a process often taken for granted and largely neglected by the library community. Yet, aboutness determination is an essential stage in subject cataloguing worthy of greater attention. There is a need for a deeper understanding of the cataloguer's relatedness to the resource in aboutness determination. This hermeneutic phenomenological study examines the lifeworld of three professional cataloguers. Through in-depth, semi-structured interviews and through talk-aloud analysis of resources, the interpreted findings provide access to the lived experience of cataloguers in aboutness determination, thus providing insight into this phenomenon. What is revealed is that aboutness determination involves a variable encounter, predisposed by systems and structures, in which the cataloguer acts as an intermediate agent in consideration of the resource and the user. The signification of this understanding is thoughtfulness. It is to give heed to the experience as it is, and to illuminate the essential qualities of that experience so that it may be understood more fully.