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The Collation

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How do catalogers make library materials findable? The cataloging process has already been covered here at The Collation—identifying the item and describing its contents so that users and other catalogers alike can compare the book in the catalog record to the book in their hands or the book they want to retrieve from the stacks. At the Folger, we pay particular attention to the artifactual evidence of our items in addition to their contents, and this level of cataloging is enabled by the use of genre and form terms.

Genre and form terms describe what an item is or what physical form it takes, rather than what it is about—a book can be described as being a translation without necessarily including information describing the contents of that translation. In contrast, subject headings are terms which describe the “aboutness” of a book.

  1. You can read more about controlled vocabularies on Folgerpedia.
  2. Staff in the Library of Congress Policy & Standards Division are currently in the process of de-coupling genre terms from the LCSH list, and establishing them in separate lists of their own, so in the not-too-distant future you will hopefully see even fewer of these hybrid headings.


Sweet! I wonder how many people would be looking for “Shaving paper” as a genre in Hamnet, but it would be fun to run across it! (And what did a gentleman of that era use it for – surely it was not like soap leaves?!)

Patty Furry — September 8, 2015


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