UC San Diego SearchMenu

UC San Diego Library Policy for Form/Genre Headings

The cataloging operations of the UC San Diego Library value form/genre terms as an effective means of identification and discovery of our resources. While we do not have the resources to add appropriate terms to all records that would benefit from them, we are committed to adding terms to our records whenever possible and providing the required authority control.

We will strive to use terms from established thesauri while recognizing that certain situations will require us to use local terms.

We will load authority records for form/genre terms that are available from publishing agencies, OCLC, our authority vendor, and other sources. We will only locally key authority records in instances of absolute necessity.

We will rely on our authority vendor to do post cataloging verification of our form/genre strings.

We will follow standard subject cataloging practices regarding form/genre access in subject strings. It is the current practice of LC, and thus many other libraries, to record form/genre aspects of an item in subject fields, rather than the form/genre field. We will accept this practice and not switch subject headings into form/genre headings.  However, LC is moving away from recording form/genre access in subject fields and is developing several new vocabularies within LCGFT to support form/genre access in several subject and format areas. We will monitor developments and switch to the new processes when they are implemented. We will also assess retrospective clean-up at that time.

We will structure form/genre subdivisions according to the standard practice of the UC San Diego Library or the official practice of the particular thesaurus being used.

Since we will have terms from multiple thesauri living in the same index, the potential for conflicting terms is very real. In general, we will accept on cataloging copy all terms from established thesauri (with some exceptions noted under the guidelines). We will resolve conflicts using the following rules of thumb:

  • For terms that describe subtly different concepts, we will retain both terms and modify the authority records with see also references.
  • Identical terms that have different meanings in different thesauri (e.g. Atlases) will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
  • For terms that describe the same concept but are different in form, we will select one to be the preferred term. We will add a reference to the authority record for the preferred for the chosen term not chosen, also retaining any unique references from the unchosen term’s authority record. Exception: The need to include terms from both LCSH and MeSH guarantees some stylistic conflicts (e.g. singular v. plural forms). We will add see also references for these terms as needed.

The Roger Metadata Policy Subgroup of MPG will make decisions on these situations when they arise.


For general collection items, catalogers will accept form/genre terms on existing cataloging copy with 2nd indicators 0, 2, or 7, using load tables to strip out undesired fields.

For Special Collections items, catalogers will add to both copy and original cataloging terms identified by selectors and may also add other relevant terms. These terms will mostly come from the RBMS controlled vocabularies, GMGPC, LCGFT, and AAT for significant conditions of publication and physical characteristics. Other established vocabularies may also be used as appropriate. For more information, see full guidelines.

For UCSD theses and dissertations, follow the UC Standard Practice for Cataloging UC Theses and Dissertations.  Note: UCSD does not apply the option to add the chronological subdivision.

Written by the Form/Genre Subcommittee of the Cataloging Committee
Approved by Cataloging Committee April 11, 2007
Revised by The Roger Metadata Policy Subgroup, March 14, 2014