While we don’t catalogue too many films, I just happen to have a documentary DVD on my desk at this moment and it needs subject headings and a call number. Yesterday I started thinking about subject-headings for this DVD and reflected on the idea of separating what the DVD is about and what type of film is presenting that information. In the process I was reminded of the concepts behind genre forms. Last night as I was paging through notes from the conference I read that that there was a group working on a policy document on how to apply genre forms to different types of films. Then, as I was wading through my email this morning, a link to that document happened to show up on one of my list serves: http://olacinc.org/drupal/capc_files/LCGFTbestpractices.pdf. So, it seems natural that this week’s post should be an extension to the introduction to genre/heading forms I wrote in last week’s blog.
I think that I’ll use the document I’ve referred to extensively because I think that it contains some excellent examples and makes some good points. Here’s a direct quote:
Genre/form headings are intended to describe what a work is, while subject headings describe what a work is about. For example, True Grit starring John Wayne is a western; it would be assigned the genre/form headings Western films and Fiction films. If classified, it could be placed in PN1997.A2-.Z8 (fictional motion pictures produced through 2000). John Wayne—The Duke: Bigger than Life is a nonfiction study of Wayne’s life and work and includes excerpts from many of Wayne’s westerns. It is a biographical documentary about Wayne and the western film genre. It would be assigned the genre/form headings Biographical films; Documentary films; and Nonfiction films along with the subject headings Wayne, John, 1907-1979; Motion picture actors and actresses—United States—Biography; and Western films—United States— History and criticism. It would be classified in PN2287.A-Z (biography of American actors) or PN1995.9.W4 (history and criticism of western films).
The document is very kind in providing an example of what we might see in MARC records for these movies:
Title: True grit
655 _7 $a Western films. $2 lcgft
655 _7 $a Feature films. $2 lcgft
655 _7 $a Fiction films. $2 lcgft
Title: John Wayne—the Duke : bigger than life
600 10 $a Wayne, John, $d 1907-1979.
650 _0 $a Motion picture actors and actresses $z United States $v Biography.
650 _0 $a Western films $z United States $x History and criticism.
655 _7 $a Biographical films. $2 lcgft
655 _7 $a Documentary films. $2 lcgft
655 _7 $a Nonfiction films. $2 lcgft
Again, this is just a snippet of an example of what can be done with genre headings to describe and classify films more precisely for users. These are the various types of films that are already either recognized or in use by LC cataloguers when they apply genre headings:
Action and adventure films
Detective and mystery films
Science fiction films
Thrillers (Motion pictures)
Having worked in reference at the public library for a number of years. I certainly can see how these headings would be useful in that context. It is not unusual for a patron to come to the desk wanting help selecting a film which either fits into a certain category or is NOT a certain category. The immediate application doesn’t seem as apparent in the academic library. However, consider the following which is an example of how genre headings can be used in very complex ways to very specifically describe a film:
Title: Family guy. A new hope
[A television parody of the Star wars motion picture]
630 _0 $a Star wars (Motion picture) $v Parodies, imitations, etc.
650 _0 $a Star Wars films $v Parodies, imitations, etc.
650 _0 $a Science fiction films $v Parodies, imitations, etc.
655 _7 $a Parody television programs. $2 lcgft
655 _7 $a Television comedies. $2 lcgft
655 _7 $a Science fiction television programs. $2 lcgft
655 _7 $a Animated television programs. $2 lcgft
655 _7 $a Television series. $2 lcgft
655 _7 $a Fiction television programs. $2 lcgft21
I can see how this type of catalogue record could help university library patrons ensure that they are borrowing the version of the film that they actually require. e.g. They are getting a recording of the play of Romeo and Juliet, not a parody, not a musical, not a comedy, and not a movie about a couple of hamsters, etc. While LCSH’s free-floating subdivisions have always allowed for some description of the type of materials, I think that the genre form will be more accessible or easier to understand for today’s diverse academic library users. Considering that many library users are from divergent cultures and speak English as a second language, the genre/heading terms are much clearer and easy to understand than the terminology found in LCSHs. For example, looking at the 630 in the example above, we can see that the term “motion picture” is confusing because it is referring to a televisions program. In the 650s we see the subdivision “v Parodies, imitations, etc.”. That’s not very precise. We know that it is not the original story but we don’t know what form the interpretation takes. In the genre headings we can glean that it is an animated television program which did a comedy parody of a science fiction television program (ok, not quite right but closer than where the LC subject headings take us).
So, what about that DVD I’m working on at the moment? I won’t be adding any genre/form headings. We’re not there yet. But, I certainly am thinking about them and considering how they will change both the description and access of those notoriously confusing [videorecording]s!
What’s up for next week? I’m not sure yet. I’m reading through my notes on FRBR and FRAD. These are very interesting and worth exploring but it might take me a while to put something together.