In the application of subject headings we are
limited in the type of subject headings we can
assign. According to the rules prescribed by the
subject heading lists, the assigned subject heading
is the subject of the content of the item not the
type of material the item is. This can make it
difficult in locating a specific type of material
such as romance novels, historical fiction,
animated films, and other such genres.
The 655 tag is available as an index term field
that can provide the genre or form of an item. This
field can make it easier for the librarian and, in
turn, library users to locate their favorite genre.
This tag is especially useful when cataloging
fiction books. It is often a challenge to assign
subject headings to fiction books because the book
must be read or skimmed to be able to assign
appropriate subject headings. The application of a
genre term can solve this problem as the genre term
gives the book a BROAD subject area on the type of
material which will help library users locate items
written in the same style or categories (i.e.,
romantic fiction; fantasy fiction; etc.) To assign
the genre heading there are standard published
lists for the genre and form terms. It is also
possible for the local librarian to assign genre
headings, however, a list should be kept of these
terms for consistency of application.
Subfield a contains the genre term to be indexed.
Subfield x contains a term or phrase subdivision
that will modify the entry in subfield a. Subfield
y contains a subdivision that represents a period
of time relating to the preceding subfields.
Subfield z contains a geographic subject
subdivision. This will usually be the name of a
place. Remember the x, y, and z subfields do not
have to be in alphabetical order but in the order
prescribed by the authorized listing. Subfield 2
contains the initials of the source of the genre
heading. The listing of codes used are located in
the Library of Congress publication MARC 21 Code
Lists for Relators, Sources, Description
Conventions . The most common codes are:
gsafd Guidelines on Subject Access to
Individual Works of Fiction, Drama,
etc. (Chicago : Resources and
Technical Services Division, American
Library Association) This publication
is available from ALA.
lcsh Library of Congress Subject
Headings (Washington : Library of
Congress) This publication is
available from LC.
local Locally assigned genre headings. The
local library should keep a listing of
the genres assigned so that if the
library's records are shared or a new
librarian is hired the terms used
will be explained which will provide
consistency of application.
First Type of heading
Second Source of term
7 Source specified in subfield 2
a Genre/form data or focus term
x General subdivision
y Chronological subdivision
z Geographic subdivision
2 Source of term
The subfield preceding subfield 2 ends with a mark
of punctuation (., !, ?, -) or a closing
655 _aEpic literature.
655 _aPolitical fiction.
655 _aPolice reports