A Cataloging Policy Committee Discussion Paper
June 16, 1999

Prepared by
Cass Hartnett
Adam Schiff
Kathryn Womble


A new index, the genre/form index, will be created in our new WebPAC.

A genre/form index contains terms indicating the genre, form, and/or physical characteristics of the materials being described. These terms are assigned from the Library of Congress Subject Headings or other thesauri and glossaries. The MARC21 Bibliographic Format lists a number of thesauri that may be used  (Figure 1).  Genre terms designate specific kinds of materials distinguished by style (e.g., biographies, essays, hymns, science fiction films). Form terms designate historically and functionally specific kinds of material (e.g., daybooks, directories, maps, questionnaires, scores).  The idea behind genre/form terms is to add headings that describe what an item is in the genre/form term field separately from what an item is about, which is described in topical subject headings.

Entries in the genre/form index come from the 655 field (Index Term--Genre/Form) and from the subfield v (form subdivision) of other 6xx fields (Figure 2).  Our catalog already has over 3000 records that contain 655 fields and we have been coding subfield v's in 6xx fields in original and copy cataloging since late 1998.  The 655 field is currently not searchable in any way in our catalog.  Also in 1998 we implemented a copy cataloging genre/form policy for juvenile materials in the Children's Literature Collection.  The copy cataloger for these materials is changing topical headings to 655 genre/form headings when appropriate.  Most of the other 655 fields in our catalog have come from LC and public library records with fiction genre headings and from cataloging we have purchased and loaded for microform sets.  Initially a genre/form index will be relatively small in our catalog.

For an example of an implemented WebPAC genre/form index, see the University of Oregon's catalog where genre/form searching falls under "Call Number and Other Searches" at   Figure 3 shows the search results screen for a genre/form search on "diaries" from Oregon's catalog.

Genre/form terms are not a new concept.  Catalogers have been assigning genre/form terms all along, but they have been coded as topical subject headings.  The 655 field was actually added to the USMARC bibliographic format in the 1980s.  Our WebPAC team decided that our new catalog should have an index to take advantage of the ability to code genre/form terms separately from topics.  Although this index is not yet available in WebPAC, it will be added soon.

There are currently no general UW policies for the use and maintenance of genre/form terms and no LC authority records for them.  LC is planning to begin creating authority records for genre/form terms within the next few years.

UW catalogers (with the exception of juvenile genre/form headings noted above) have been assigning genre/form terms but coding them as subjects even when the item is an example of the genre/form rather than about it.
MARC record examples of "old" coding, using 650 subject headings for genre terms:

B32142833             Last updated: 05-24-99 Created: 05-22-95 Revision: 7
 01 LANG: eng       03 LOCATION: ug    05 BIB LVL: m      07 PUB DISP: -
 02 SKIP: 0         04 CAT DA:09-29-96 06 REC TYPE: g     08 COUNTRY: ii
 09 001     35201722
 10 003     OCoLC
 11 005     19960807125246.0
 12 007     vfucbahom
 13 008     960807s1994    ii 048            vleng dngmIa
 14 040     WAU|cWAU
 15 041     engind
 16 043     a-ii---
 17 245  00 Forty seven seconds and after|h[videorecording] :|bLatur, Osmanabad  /|cPrakruti Films
 18 246  3  47 seconds and after
 19 260     Fremont CA :|bIndia Relief and Education Fund,|c[1994]
 20 300     1 videocassette (48 min.) :|bsd., col. ;|c1/2 in
 21 500     In English and Indic languages with English subtitles
 22 508     Producer/director/commentary, Suma Josson; camera, Sudhir Palsane, M. Pradhan, K. Joglekar
 23 520     A documentary examining the relief work after the 1993 earthquake in Latur, Marathawada, especially in Killari, the nearest town to the epicenter. It takes a critical look at the rehabilitation programs for the victims
 24 538     VHS
 25 650   0 Documentary films
 26 650   0 Earthquakes|zIndia|zKillari, September 30, 1993
 27 650   0 Disaster relief|zIndia|zMarathwada Region
 28 650   0 Earthquakes|xSocial aspects
 29 700  1  Josson, Suma
 30 710  2  Prakruti Films
 31 710  2  India Relief and Education Fund
 32 941     .b32142833
 33 945  5  Videorecord IREF 001|ltamed|t49|b39352041874900
 34 948     .b32142833

B34659109             Last updated: 05-24-99 Created: 08-23-95 Revision: 7
 01 LANG: eng       03 LOCATION: sc    05 BIB LVL: m      07 PUB DISP: -
 02 SKIP: 4         04 CAT DA:03-31-96 06 REC TYPE: a     08 COUNTRY: wau
 09 001     30578343
 10 003     OCoLC
 11 005     19960228173723.0
 12 008     940609s1993    waua          000 0 eng dnamIa
 13 040     OUN|cOUN|dWAU
 14 090     N7433.4.F38|bA58 1993x
 15 100  1  Faye, Jules Remedios
 16 245  14 The annunciation :|ban allegorical tale of the Virgin as warrior & protectress : to be used as a portable alter /|cJules Remedios Faye
 17 260     Seattle :|bStreet of Crocodiles,|c1993
 18 300     1 v. ;|c26 cm
 19 500     A triptych book of black Strathmore paper over boards, printed in gold ink.  Copper trim lines a seven-color linoblock print of the Virgin mounted on the central panel.  The text, handset in perpetua and printed within a two-color border is mounted on the side panels which are connected by copper hinges
 20 500     Limited to 50 copies signed by the artist
 21 590     Letterpress printed
 22 650   0 Artists' books|zWashington (State)|zSeattle
 23 710  2  Street of Crocodiles (Press)
 24 941     .b34659109
 25 945  1  N7433.4.F38 A4 1993|lscba|t7|b39352041248543

MARC record example of "new" coding, using 655 for genre/form terms and subfield v for form subdivisions:

B38010203             Last updated: 05-24-99 Created: 05-05-97 Revision: 9
 01 LANG: eng       03 LOCATION: ug    05 BIB LVL: m      07 PUB DISP: -
 02 SKIP: 0         04 CAT DA:06-29-97 06 REC TYPE: a     08 COUNTRY: nyu
 09 001     36159570
 10 003     OCoLC
 11 005     19970602131731.0
 12 008     961224s1997    nyu           000 1 eng  cam8a
 13 010     96054050
 14 020     156924748X
 15 040     DLC|cDLC|dJED|dCLE|dWAU
 16 043     n-us---
 17 050  00 PS3566.E736|bA65 1997
 18 082  00 813/.54|221
 19 100  1  Pesci, David
 20 245  10 Amistad /|cDavid Pesci
 21 260     New York :|bMarlowe and Co.,|c1997
 22 300     292 p. ;|c22 cm
 23 600  10 Adams, John Quincy,|d1767-1848|vFiction
 24 610  20 Amistad (Schooner)|vFiction
 25 650   0 Slave insurrections|zUnited States|vFiction
 26 650   0 Trials (Mutiny)|zUnited States|xHistory|y19th century|vFiction
 27 650   0 Slave trade|zUnited States|xHistory|y19th century|vFiction
 28 655   7 Biographical fiction.|2gsafd
 29 655   7 Historical fiction.|2gsafd
 30 655   7 Adventure stories.|2gsafd
 31 941     .b38010203
 32 945  1  PS3566.E736 A65 1997|lugstx|b39352046039889
 33 948     .b38010203


Issue 1 – Thesauri

Thesauri consulted are noted as an abbreviation in the 655 field:

655  7 Diaries.|2lcsh

Although a list of approved thesauri exists (Figure 1), will the Libraries decide to give preference to certain thesauri?  Should there be a hierarchy of which thesauri to turn to first; for example first LCSH, then GSAFD, etc.?  Or should we limit ourselves to a “short list” from the larger list of thesauri?  If, within one bibliographic record, different genre/form headings are appropriate from different thesauri, may all be used?  Should we create local authority records for the terms chosen, thus providing cross-referencing in the online catalog?  Would we want to create authorities records ahead of time by entering an entire thesaurus into the Libraries' catalog?  Who would be responsible for genre/form authorities creation?

RECOMMENDATION: We recommend that the attached list of thesauri be used by the Libraries, with LCSH (and GSAFD for fiction) as preferred starting places, and others to be used when LCSH is inadequate.  The LCSH headings are available online; other thesauri should be photocopied or purchased and distributed to cataloging staff and/or retained in a central location.  If there are other thesauri we would like to see added to the MARC21 Bibliographic Format list, we should petition LC to assign codes for them.

RECOMMENDATION:  We recommend against assigning different terms from diverse thesauri if the terms mean the same thing (e.g. using “Detective and mystery stories” from Thesaurus A and “Whodunits” from Thesaurus B).

RECOMMENDATION: We recommend that we explore the possibility of creating authority records for genre/form terms in our local catalog and that the Authorities Librarian, the Principal Cataloger, and any other interested parties begin this process.

Issue 2 – Adding local headings

If an approved genre/form heading does not exist, should catalogers devise new headings? Local headings must be noted with the code “local” in the 655.  Should individual catalogers be free to establish genre/form terms on their own or should there be a review process within the Libraries to examine/approve locally produced headings?  Who would supervise this process, and what would the process be?  Will we maintain a list of locally used headings?

MARC record example of 655 "local" heading added:

B39020915             Last updated: 05-06-99 Created: 10-10-97 Revision: 4
 01 LANG: eng       03 LOCATION: szb   05 BIB LVL: m      07 PUB DISP: -
 02 SKIP: 0         04 CAT DA:10-10-97 06 REC TYPE: a     08 COUNTRY: sz
 09 001     33218004
 10 003     OCoLC
 11 005     19971009155143.0
 12 008     950928s1995    sz            000 0 eng ccam a
 13 040     COF|cCOF|dWAU
 14 042     pcc
 15 049     WAUW
 16 050   4 SF408.6.P93|bI57 1995
 17 245  00 International studbook for the pygmy hippopotamus, Choeropsis liberiensis (Morton 1844) /|c[studbook keeper, Kathleen Tobler]
 18 250     8th ed
 19 260     [Basel] :|bZoological Garden Basel,|c1995
 20 300     v, 93, ix p. ;|c21 cm
 21 650   0 Pygmy hippopotamus|vPedigrees
 22 650   0 Pygmy hippopotamus|vRegisters
 23 650   0 Pygmy hippopotamus|xBreeding
 24 650   0 Captive mammals|vRegisters
 25 650   0 Zoo animals|vRegisters
 26 655   7 Studbooks.|2local
 27 700  1  Tobler, Kathleen
 28 710  2  Zoologischer Garten Basel
 29 945  1  SF408.6.P93 I57 1995|lszstx|b39352046242095

RECOMMENDATION: We recommend that individual catalogers be allowed to create their own genre/form headings and that there should be a process for recording these headings Libraries-wide.  Possibilities include making a genre/form headings list available via the Web or using locally-created authorities records in Denali as a de facto list.  When LC is ready to accept proposals for new genre/form headings, we recommend that as many of our locally-produced headings as possible be established in the national authorities file through SACO.

Issue 3 – Current, ongoing cataloging practices

The most heartening aspect of the genre/form heading issue is that we are working towards building much more sophisticated cataloging records for the future.  In ten, twenty, or fifty years, genre/form heading information should grow to be widespread.  What should our cataloging practices be in 1999?  Questions to consider:

1. Should original catalogers now begin coding genre/form terms in bibliographic records as 655s rather than as 650s?

RECOMMENDATION for #1: We recommend that catalogers begin coding genre/form terms as 655s.

2. Should original catalogers begin assigning genre/form terms for materials for which they have not previously assigned terms, e.g. fiction, drama, poetry?

3. Are 655s desired in ALL cases (when applicable), or will the Libraries designate certain types of materials (e.g. musical works, fiction, rare books, videorecordings) as “targets” for genre/form heading treatment?

4. If we target certain areas, how best can we involve the subject selectors in this discussion?

RECOMMENDATION for #2, #3, #4:  We recommend that further discussion of these issues take place between catalogers, subject selectors, and public services staff, possibly within the context of CPC, Selectors’ meetings or other appropriate venues.

5. Should catalogers duplicate terms in 655s that already appear in 6xx, subfield v (form subdivision)?

6. Should catalogers add subdivisions within the 655?  Should catalogers try to bring out the geographic, chronological, or topical aspects within genre/form (see “Diaries” example, Figure 3)?

RECOMMENDATION for #5 & #6:  In general, we recommend against duplicating terms in 655s which are already found in form subdivisions.  We recommend that only subfield a in 655 be assigned but we recognize that user and departmental needs may warrant more detailed treatment in some cases.

7.  Should complex and/or quick copy catalogers begin changing coding for genre/form to 655s?  Should quick catalogers change the subfield coding of form subdivisions in subject headings from x to v?  Should complex copy catalogers assign genre/form terms to records that lack them?

RECOMMENDATION for #7: We recommend that complex copy catalogers begin changing coding for genre/form to 655s as well as assigning genre/form terms to records that lack them.  We recommend that a single policy be adopted to address the duties of both complex copy catalogers and original catalogers.  Further study needs to be done on the impact on workflow overall, and of training quick catalogers to recode form subdivisions and genre/form headings.

Issue 4 – Retrospective treatment of existing data

Should we have a goal of converting all genre/form information in existing bibliographic records to current coding standards?  How high a priority is this for the Libraries?  Are there certain types of materials which we would convert first?  If so, which materials, and how would we decide?

RECOMMENDATION:  We feel that accomplishing such a conversion is desirable.  However, much more discussion should take place regarding priorities and costs.

Issue 5 – Should genre/form headings be rotated?

Currently, terms in the subject heading indexes are rotated.  Should we rotate terms in the genre/form index as well?   See Figure 4 for an example from the University of Oregon catalog.

RECOMMENDATION:  We recommend that genre/form headings be rotated.

Go back to 1999 Agendas.