Friday, 3 February 2012

Cataloguing and Metadata Update #1 - Genre Headings

Maybe you've noticed some new coding in MARC records in the last few months that you don't recognize.  It looks something like this: 
655 #7 $a Road maps. $2 lcgft
651 #0 $a Alamo Reservoir $v Maps.
655 #7 $a Bathymetric maps. $2 lcgft

So, what is this all about?  Why is the second indicator a 7 and does it mean that the $2 or |2 is some sort of local coding from another system that just needs to be stripped out?  Until last week, I was stripping these out thinking that it wasn't anything that we would want in our records.

Woah nelly.... even though our OPAC won't do anything with this type of 6XX field, don't strip it.  It's a new extension to MARC developed by LC that is gradually being adopted called "Genre/Form Terms".  Here is a link to a useful FAQ that explains all about them:

In short, genre terms have been developed to allow cataloguers to describe in a 6xx field what type of resource an item is.  It is a controlled vocabulary which allows cataloguers to describe very specifically what type of material the record represents and the vocabulary goes way beyond the limited GMDs. No, it's not the same as the GMD and we're not getting rid of the GMD yet (baby steps toward that one), it's just one step toward making the records more useful to users who are looking for particular types of materials.  Really curious and want to search around the vocabulary?  Here's a link to a place where you can have a look:

So why add these "Genre/form terms" to our MARC records if our catalogues don't do anything with them:

1)  There is a new generation of ILS (the generic term for systems like Millennium) and they will be designed to make use of these subject fields.
2)  Cataloguers are no longer restricted to describing what an item is "about" in 6xx fields which gives them more options and flexibility in terms of making items findable.  This responds to what users need and want.
3)  Free floating subdivisions don't work very well in some information retrieval systems - espeically ones that use faceted searching such as Primo.  Genre terms replace many of those subdivisions.
4) The existing GMD's are too limited for the range of materials in existence today and also limited to the physical format of the item (not only does the GMD not differentiate between videos and DVDS but it does not differentiate between an instructional DVD and feature film DVD which is one of the functions that the genre form is intended to perform).
5) A bunch of other reasons that were discussed at the conference and I either forget or don't understand yet.

So, what does this mean for us?  Nothing much.  When we see records with this type of coding in it, we'll now understand what it is and we also know not to strip it out.  It will be useful to us some day.  We don't have to learn or apply it yet.  But I thought that it was good to at least know what is going on with them.

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