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Genre Headings and Authorities in the University of Washington Libraries Catalog. Adam L. Schiff Principal Cataloger University of Washington Libraries

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genre headings and authorities in the university of washington libraries catalog

Genre Headings and Authorities in the University of Washington Libraries Catalog

Adam L. Schiff

Principal Cataloger

University of Washington Libraries

Comments are applicable to the UW Libraries Catalog at, not the WorldCat Local Beta catalog
  • Innovative Interfaces OPAC
Three topics to consider:
  • Genre/Form Index
  • Genre/Form Policies
  • Genre/Form Authorities
genre form index

Genre/Form Index

655 fields

Locally defined 695 field

Form subdivisions ($v) from all 6XX fields


655 0 Feature films.

655 0 Feature films|zUnited States.

655 0 Biographical films.

genre form policies

Genre/Form Policies

655s are accepted in copy cataloging for all resources, but we have developed specific policies for genre/form access for certain types of resources, specifically:

Artists’ Books and Miniature Books


Children’s Literature

Ethnic and Special Audience Newpapers

Graphic Novels, Comics, and Cartoons

Oral History Materials

UW Theses and Dissertations and Thesis-Like Documents



Sources of Genre/Form Terms

  • for most materials, prefer terms from LCSH
  • if appropriate terms not available in LCSH:
    • propose them through SACO whenever possible, e.g.

Animated videos Medical drama

Anti-war television programs Miniature periodicals

Car-chase films Nature videos

Comedy videos Novels in verse

Concert films Romantic comedy films

Documentary videos Submarine films

Ethnographic films Suicide victims’ writings

Film excerpts Teen films

Gay youths’ writings Third stream (Music)

Instructional videos Thrillers (Motion pictures, television, etc.)

Legal drama Underground periodicals


Sources of Genre/Form Terms

  • if appropriate terms not available in LCSH:

b) use a different controlled vocabulary if it provides needed terms, e.g.

      • Art & Architecture Thesaurus for oral history materials
      • 655 7 Oral histories. $2 aat
      • 655 7 Transcripts. $2 aat
      • 655 7 Reminiscences. $2 aat
      • Moving Image Materials: Genre Terms
      • 655 7 Dance. $2 mim
      • 655 7 Debates. $2 mim
      • 655 7 Plays. $2 mim
      • Newspaper Genre List
      • 655 7 College student newspapers. $2 ngl
      • 655 7 Labor newspapers. $2 ngl

Sources of Genre/Form Terms

  • if appropriate terms not available in LCSH:

c) use local terms specified in cataloging policies, e.g.

      • Videorecordings

655 7 Historical reenactments. $2 local

655 7 Foreign language films $x Swedish. $2 local

      • UW theses and thesis-like documents

655 7 Theses $x Anthropology. $2 local

655 7 Professional papers $x Forestry. $2 local

655 7 Research projects $x Music. $2 local

      • Children’s literature

655 7 Science fiction $v Juvenile. $2 local

655 7 Baseball stories $v Juvenile. $2 local

655 7 Christmas plays $v Juvenile. $2 local

genre form authorities
Genre/Form Authorities
  • Acquired from our authorities vendor (Backstage Library Works) based on monthly processing of our bibliographic records: GSAFD, AAT
  • GSAFD authorities are also available for free downloading – more information from



genre form authorities31
Genre/Form Authorities
  • Modified from existing LC subject authorities
  • Since LCSH authorities for motion picture, television, and video genres have not been available, we use the existing LCSH authorities, change the tagging, and export the records into our OPAC. We then delete the LCCN and other data that pertains only to the subject authority
  • Once LCSH genre authorities become available, we will replace these with them

Genre authority record after fields pertaining to the subject authority record have been deleted

genre form authorities38
Genre/Form Authorities
  • Locally created authorities, or local modifications to national-level authority records
  • Needed because the index contains terms from multiple thesauri for the same thing as well as conflicts between genre/form headings and subdivisions in LCSH
  • Needed because full hierarchical relationships in some thesauri are not expressed, which is not helpful in a single, general genre index
problems using multiple thesauri in one index
Problems Using Multiple Thesauri in One Index

LCSH:Humorous stories

GSAFD:Humorous fiction

LCSH:Children’s poetry

LCSH form subdivision:$v Juvenile poetry

Solution: provide references or links between the equivalent terms. 7XX linking entry fields in the MARC 21 authority format are available to do this, but LCSH topical and genre subject authority records don’t yet include them. Also, many systems do not use them to generate links.

problems using multiple thesauri in one index40
Problems Using Multiple Thesauri in One Index

Our solution: add 555 see also references from one term to another and create needed authority records to enable these references


Locally created genre authority for the form subdivision Juvenile poetry, with see also reference to the LCSH genre heading Children’s poetry

problems using multiple thesauri in one index44
Problems Using Multiple Thesauri in One Index

Solution: add Newspapers as a broader term to the authority records for the NGL

conclusion issues to consider
Conclusion: Issues to Consider
  • Should you create a genre index that is separate from any subject indexes you may have? If yes, what fields will you index? (e.g., just 655, or also $v from subjects?)
  • Will you allow terms from multiple thesauri in your genre index or attempt to only use terms from a single controlled vocabulary? Which vocabulary/vocabularies will be permitted? How do you achieve this? (e.g., will catalogers have to make sure only acceptable thesauri have been used, or can your system delete unwanted headings?)
  • Can your system be configured to limit what gets indexed? (e.g., based on second indicator value in 655 or based on source code in subfield $2)
  • If you get authorities from a vendor, can you protect any local modifications from overlay when a change is made to the authority?
  • If you add linking entry fields to your authorities, will your system actually use them? How can we get linking fields into national authority records, and persuade system developers to make use of them?
  • Do you need to use locally-devised headings? How will you maintain them?
conclusion issues to consider48
Conclusion: Issues to Consider
  • Will you use headings from existing thesauri in non-standard ways? (e.g., subdividing literary genres with $v Juvenile for children’s materials or Foreign language films by language)
  • Can you easily convert headings tagged 650 to 655 in your OPAC? How will you avoid converting headings on records for resources that are about the genre rather than examples of it?
  • Are there records in your catalog to which you will retrospectively add genre headings? Can this be done using automation or batch processing?
  • Will existing master records in OCLC be converted to the correct coding? Who will do this?
  • If you use LCSH genre headings, will you propose new genre headings through SACO once the program allows that?
  • Are some materials more important than others to provide genre access for your users?