Tag of the Month

Category: Tag of the Month Bibliographic Archives
Title: 655 - Index Term - Genre/Form (R)

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:

     lcgft      Library of Congress Genre Form
              Thesaurus.  These terms can be 
              found at:

     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.

     sears   Sears List of Subject Headings. This
               publication is available from EBSCO

     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

 blank Basic 

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   _aHorror fiction.

     655 _aAllegories.

     655  _aAllegories.

     655  _aFolk music.

     655 _aEpic literature.

     655 _aSatire.

     655 _aPolitical fiction.

     655  _aHistorical fiction.

     655 _aPolice reports
           _zRichmond, Ken,