The first book, below, is a bibliography of embroidered bindings, featuring many facsimiles in its pages, but its own vinyl binding (no doubt familiar to users of any library!) is a far cry from those it describes. The second book is a stunning example of an embroidered binding, but inside is a religious text. In both cases, the physical form of the book does not match the contents.
Broderade bokband från äldre tid i svenska samlingar (Z 269 .R8 (folio))
Argumenta psalmorum Davidis per tetrasticha manu Estherae Inglis exarata strenae nomine illus [manuscript], V.a.94. Image from the Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Collections.
Folger catalogers consult several controlled vocabularies—organized sets of specific terms to facilitate access to information—to select genre/form terms which describe the features of the item they are cataloging. When deciding on a term, our first stop is the set of six RBMS vocabularies
. These—Genre, Paper, Provenance, Type, Printing & Publishing, and Binding—were specifically designed to aid rare materials cataloging.
Hamlet, tywysog Denmarc (PR2796 .W2 H1 1865 Sh.Col.), front cover.
Hamlet, tywysog Denmarc (PR2796 .W2 H1 1865 Sh.Col.), inset page.
In the case of the book above, we can see that it is a translation of Hamlet into Welsh (genre) and a presentation copy (provenance evidence), and that the presentation inscription takes the shape of a fill-in-the-blank form (genre). There are also several advertisements for the publisher inside the front cover (not shown). Checking in the (easily searchable!) RBMS vocabularies shows us that Translations, Presentation copies (Provenance), Blank forms, and Publishers’ advertisements are the established terms used to describe these, so we add them to the record.
Genre/form terms in the MARC view of the Hamnet record for PR2796 .W2 H1 1865 Sh.Col.
Sometimes, the RBMS vocabularies don’t have the exact term needed to describe the item in hand, or we want to supplement them with additional terms. On these occasions, we turn to other specialized vocabularies such as the Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT), or occasionally to the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). Though the LCSH is meant to be used primarily for subject headings, it does contain a few genre terms that can be used to create hybrid headings such as Miniature books ǂv Specimens or Shaving ǂx Equipment and supplies ǂv Specimens.
The subfield ǂv in the MARC record indicates a genre term—so the preceding examples would ascribe the genre “specimens of miniature book” or “specimens of shaving equipment” to an item. These hybrid headings are located in the 600, 610, or 650 MARC fields, since they are adapted subject headings.
Gentlemen’s shaving paper with quotations from Shakespeare (Sh.Misc. 1836), front cover.
Genre/form terms in the MARC view of the Hamnet record for Sh.Misc. 1836. The third genre term is taken from the Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging, which is not regularly used by the Folger, but which is uniquely suited for realia.
Notice in the MARC records above, though, that standard genre/form terms are typically placed in the 655 field (handily titled the “Index Term – Genre/Form” field in the official documentation). This keeps them separate from the subject headings, and allows Hamnet to display them distinctly.
Genre/form terms for PR2796 .W2 H1 1865 Sh.Col., in the main Hamnet view.
Subject and genre/form terms for Sh.Misc. 1836, in the main Hamnet view.
It also enables you to search for particular genre and form terms, using several options in Hamnet. In the Basic Search tab, “Subject and Form/Genre Browse” will allow you to browse a combined list of subject headings and genre/form terms by their initial letter, while the “Form/Genre (Keyword Search)” is just that, a keyword search for form and genre terms. On the Advanced tab, the “Form/Genre” is another keyword search, but can be combined with other searches; importantly, the Advanced Form/Genre search also includes the hybrid genres indexed in the 650 ǂv field discussed in the example above.
As always, if you encounter catalog errors during your browses or keyword searches, please let us know at email@example.com. (Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a genre heading out there for error reports—or emails—yet!)