The correct language for local publications in East Africa: a qualitative inquiry into subject cataloguing


  • Eliz Nassali State Makerere University, Uganda
  • Isaac M.N. Kigongo-Bukenya Makerere University, Uganda
  • Constant Okello-Obura Makerere University, Uganda


Subject cataloguing, local publications, Cataloguing standards, Cataloguing model


The linguistic control through controlled vocabulary is aimed at giving users consistent access to information. However, the well intentioned standard,  not only disfavours library users, who are incognisant of the prescribed language but also a challenge to the  cataloguing staff who are forced to fit the local publications within the prescribed headings under the guise of universal standards. This article presents the results of 11 in-depth interviews conducted with cataloguers from two leading universities in East Africa, supplemented with document reviews and observations. From the evidence collected, adherence to cataloguing standards takes precedence over subject access. Hence, a documented integrated subject approach of controlled vocabulary and local terms was suggested to be augmented by authority control to ease the subject cataloguing process and above all, enhance access local publications.