Library of Congress to Formally Separate
LC Genre/Form Thesaurus from LCSH
In June 2010, PSD announced that the MARC coding for genre/form headings will be revised. The
revisions will not be implemented until late 2010 at the earliest. Catalogers should continue to use
second indicator “0” (zero) in the 655 field of bibliographic records until further notice
In 2007 the Library of Congress’ Policy and Standards Division (PSD, then called the Cataloging
Policy and Support Office, or CPSO) began to develop genre/form terms in the area of moving
images. Since then terms for recorded sound and cartography have also been included. Genre/form
terms for law, literature, music, and religion will be incorporated within the next two years.
PSD’s intent has been to develop a thesaurus distinct from Library of Congress Subject
Headings (LCSH), but for the past three years the authority records have been assigned
MARC 21 coding indicating that they are part of LCSH. When the terms have been
assigned in bibliographic records, they have been coded with second indicator “0”
(zero), which is used for LCSH.
They have also been assigned LCCNs with the same prefix as subject headings, “sh.” Additionally,
approved genre/form terms have been published in the Supplementary Vocabularies volume of
LCSH and instruction sheets governing their development and use have appeared in the Subject
Headings Manual (SHM).
PSD now plans to formally separate genre/form terms from LCSH, in both MARC records and in
printed products. The details are outlined below.
Title of thesaurus and MARC source code
Since 2007 the genre/form headings have been referred to as a genre/form list or a genre/form
thesaurus, because the thesaurus did not yet have a formal title. PSD has now coined the title:
Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials (LCGFT).
This title will appear in print for the first time in the Supplemental Vocabularies volume of the 32nd
edition of LCSH, which will be published this summer.
On May 26, 2010 the Network Development and MARC Standards Office (NDMSO) announced that
it has assigned the MARC source code “lcgft” to the thesaurus. The code may be used in exchange
records after July 27, 2010 (for the NDMSO announcement see
MARC 21 records
Within a MARC 21 authority record, the thesaurus to which the heading belongs is coded in one of
two ways. It may be recorded in byte 11 of the fixed field (008/11), or through a combination of
008/11 and subfield $f of the 040 field. After conferring with NDMSO, PSD has decided to utilize
the latter option.
Authority records for genre/form terms will be coded as follows.
008/11: z (“Other”)
In bibliographic records, genre/form terms are always contained in the 655 field, and again
there are two methods to designate the source thesaurus: the value of the second indicator, or a
combination of second indicator “7” and a source code in subfield $2. PSD has chosen the latter
option. LC genre/form terms in bibliographic records will be coded:
655 -7 $a [Term]. $2 lcgft
This formula has been employed successfully for many other thesauri and lists of terms and PSD
expects that its use for the LCGFT will be equally successful.
Timeline for implementation: Late 2010 or early 2011; a firm date will be announced when it has
PSD plans to institute a new prefix of “gf” for genre/form terms. The format of the new LCCN will
be identical to that for subject headings: the two-character prefix will be followed by 10 digits
comprising the four-digit year and a six-digit serial number.
Timeline for implementation: Late 2010 or early 2011. The existing genre/form authority records
will be cancelled and new ones will be issued with the “gf” prefix. PSD will publicly announce the
specific date of this event no fewer than six weeks before it is to occur in order to provide time for
MARC Distribution Service subscribers to prepare.
A separate manual for genre/form terms is being written. It will include instructions and guidelines
on proposing and applying LC genre/form headings, and will be formatted similar to the way that
the SHM is. (Until it is developed, instruction sheets for genre/form headings will continue to reside
in the SHM.) PSD is also investigating the possibility of extracting LCGFT from Supplementary
Vocabularies and publishing it separately.
Timeline: No earlier than 2012.
Questions or comments on these plans may be directed to Janis L. Young, LC’s genre/form
coordinator, at email@example.com.
Q15: Will the MARC coding be changed, and if so, when and why?
A: The MARC coding will be adjusted on all current and future LCGFT headings so that
machine validation can be supported. In order to accurately machine-validate genre/form
headings, the computer will have to be able to match headings assigned in the 655 field to the
appropriate thesaurus, including also the rules for assignment of terms that appear in that
thesaurus. Since the rules for application of genre/form headings are different from those for
applying LCSH, continuing to code LCGFT as LCSH will cause validation features to match LCGFT
terms against rules for applying LCSH, leading to incorrect results.
The coding will be adjusted as follows:
Current coding: Authority records Future coding: Authority records
008/11 = a (LCSH) 008/11 = z (Other)
040 = $a DLC $b eng $c DLC 040 = $a DLC $b eng $c DLC $f lcgft
Current coding: Bibliographic records Future coding: Bibliographic records
655 #0 $a [Term.] 655 #7 $a [Term.] $2 lcgft
Q34: Can topical headings (tag 150) be used as genre/form headings in bibliographic
records (tag 655) if there is not a corresponding genre/form authority record (tag 155)?
A: The Policy and Standards Division realizes that some libraries would like to use genre/form
headings for disciplines in which authority records have not yet been made (e.g., literature).
The use of topical LCSH headings (tag 150, second indicator 0) as genre/form headings (tag 655,
second indicator 0) in those disciplines is allowed, depending on the meaning of the topical
If the scope note says that the heading is used for works of a given type, then it can be used as a
genre/form heading. If the scope note says that a heading is used for works about (or on) a given
topic, then it cannot be used as an LC genre/form heading. If there is no scope note, then the
cataloger should use his or her best judgment.
For example, the scope note on Short stories reads:
Here are entered collections of stories. Works on the short story as a literary form and on the art of
short story writing are entered under Short story.
The heading Short stories can therefore be used as a genre/form heading:
655 #0 $a Short stories.
On the other hand, the scope note for Interactive art says:
Here are entered works on art that requires or invites viewer participation, or that provides the
elements from which the viewer creates a work of art.
Since this scope note specifies that the heading is for works on art, not the works of art
themselves, this heading cannot be coded as an LC genre/form heading.
Q36: Is subdivision of genre/form headings permitted?
A: There is currently no provision for the subdivision of LC genre/form headings, either topically,
chronologically, geographically, or by form. The MARC authority and bibliographic formats permit it,
but LC has chosen not to implement the subfields at this time.