Radio Form/Genre Terms Guide
Recorded Sound Section
National Audio-Visual Conservation Center
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress holds one of largest radio collections
in the world. The process of bringing this collection under bibliographic
control has been a continuing challenge to the staff of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center. The division
has cataloged a relatively small portion of its radio material
in the Library's former MARC-based system, but with the implementation
of its new integrated library system (also MARC-based) it will
be cataloging even more. In addition, several years ago the Library
designed a non-MARC automated system with which to catalog its
huge NBC radio collection and other smaller collections. The acquisition
of these systems and appropriation of additional staff have enabled
the Library to start systematically processing its radio programs.
These efforts naturally led to a standardized approach to cataloging
radio and improved access to the programs.
Form/genre access to radio materials is very important for a
number of reasons. Since subject access to radio programs is usually
lacking, form/genre terms provide one of the few ways, other than
titles and added entries, of finding and grouping programs. Categorization
of radio programs is well established in the field so that experienced
researchers are often looking for particular types of radio shows.
A single, standardized list of form/genre terms and provisions
for application are necessary so that catalogers, reference staff
and researchers alike can use the same indexing and retrieval vocabulary.
The following thesaurus of radio form/genre terms offers controlled
vocabulary with which to describe various types of radio programs.
It reconciles variant terms, establishes relationships between
terms, and guides users in the application of terms. It is used
for cataloging radio materials in both MARC and non-MARC settings.
II. Scope and Purpose
Within the context of radio, form/genre terms denote categories
of programs. They describe a program according to its content (Westerns,
Biographies), style (Audience Participation Programs,
Call-in Shows), topic (Crime or Mystery Programs),
structure (Magazines, Anthologies), intended audience
(Children's Programs), method of transmission
(Shortwave Broadcasts) or combinations of these.
A form/genre category suggests a common theme, motif, setting,
situation or characterization that is easily recognizable.
A controlled form/genre thesaurus assists the researcher in searching
for and retrieving information about radio, makes cataloging more
consistent, and encourages specificity of description by providing
The term radio is used throughout this document; but it should
be understood that these guidelines apply to the sound from television
programs as well as radio programs.
III. Syntax and Structure
The radio form/genre terms represent single concepts and are
plural nouns with phrases in natural order. The structure is intended
to help processors and researchers select the term(s) most appropriate
for indexing and retrieval.
The terms are in alphabetical order followed by scope notes and
examples. Associations between terms are indicated by the convention
of broader, narrower, related and used for relationships.
IV. Term Selection and Formulation
- SN: scope note/definition
- CN: cataloger's note (guides users in selecting
terms; other misc. notes)
- UF: used for (indicates a non-preferred term)
- BT: broader term (indicates the more general
class to which a term belongs)
- NT: narrower term (indicates a more specific
- RT: related term (associated term)
- USE: leads from non-preferred to preferred
The radio form/genre thesaurus is designed to provide terms for
access to categories of radio programs. It is not an exhaustive
list, yet hopefully it is specific enough to permit reasonably
direct searches that will locate the most commonly requested types
of programs. This thesaurus represents material encountered at
the Library of Congress and is not meant to include every form/genre
category that could exist. An attempt was made to use terminology
that is understood both outside of and within the field of broadcasting.
Radio reference sources were consulted when available (cited in
the bibliography) to find common terms. Some terms and definitions
were drawn from colleagues' personal knowledge. Other authorized
thesauri, the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH);
Descriptive Terms for Graphic Materials: Genre and Physical Characteristic
Headings; Thesaurus for Graphic Materials II: Genre and Physical
Characteristic Terms (TGM II); Moving Image Materials: Genre Terms;
and the Moving Image Genre/Form Guide were consulted for comparison
of terms, and for structure, layout and arrangement of the thesaurus.
The radio form/genre thesaurus consists primarily of terms pertaining
to non-musical radio programs. In fact, there is only one term, Western
art music, that addresses musical content directly. However,
there are many form/genres that may contain music, such as Auditions,
Children's programs, Outtakes, Rehearsals, Specials, Variety and
others. Standard Library of Congress music headings (popular and
classical) are used to describe the musical content of a radio
program. The headings should be used according to Library of Congress
practice and policies. The term Western art music is
to be used when the musical content of a program is known to be
classical, but, for whatever reason, the individual pieces are
V. Cataloging Applications
- LEVEL OF SPECIFICITY
- EXHAUSTIVITY OF INDEXING
- 655 TERMS AS SUBJECTS
The following guidelines for using radio form/genres were formulated
in the Recorded Sound Section of the Library of Congress, National Audio-Visual Conservation Center. They are based
on section practices and pertain to both MARC and non-MARC cataloging
systems. In a MARC setting, the terms are used in field 655 with
the appropriate source code assigned by the Network Development
and MARC Standards Office. In a non-MARC setting, the terms are
used in the Form/Genre field with the code "MBRS" in subfield |a.
1. Level of specificity
The most specific term is assigned to the material being cataloged.
Of course, the degree of specificity is influenced by several
factors, such as, whether the catalog record represents a single
item or a group of items, staff expertise, knowledge of the material
being cataloged, the size of the file in which the catalog records
reside, and the intended use of the collection.
2. Exhaustivity in
A form/genre term(s) is not always assigned to material as
it may be difficult to ascertain whether a radio program falls
into a particular category. In addition, it may be more appropriate
to specify the topic of the program rather than the form or genre.
Often more than one term may be needed to describe the various
categories to which a radio program belongs. The form/genre fields
in both MARC and non-MARC catalogs are repeatable for this purpose.
3. 655 terms as subjects
Radio form/genre terms are placed in the 655 field of a MARC
catalog record and the Form/Genre field of a non-MARC record.
When a radio program is about something, even
a particular radio form/genre, an appropriate topical heading
is chosen from Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and
placed in the 650 field for a MARC record and the Topical Subject
field for a non-MARC record.
Any term in the radio form/genre thesaurus may be subdivided
in order to indicate certain information and to subarrange files.
The four types of subdivisions are: general (MARC subfield |x);
chronological (MARC subfield |y); geographic (MARC subfield |z)
and form (MARC subfield |v). In a non-MARC setting the terms
will be divided by double dashes. The following order of subdivisions
is recommended, [form/genre term]--[general subdivision]--[place
subdivision]--[date subdivision]--[form subdivision]. Subdivisions
do not have to be used with all form/genre terms, nor at all
times, but a consistent practice should be developed.
The following nine terms can be used as form subdivisions with
the radio form/genre terms: Adaptations, Anthologies,
Auditions, Excerpts, Outtakes, Radio, Rehearsals, Shortwave broadcasts
and Television. Five of the terms (Adaptations,
Anthologies, Auditions, Outtakes, Rehearsals) may also
be used as the main heading in a form/genre string. The subdivisions Excerpts,
Radio, Shortwave broadcasts and Television are used
to modify the main form/genre heading. When the subdivisions
Radio, Shortwave broadcasts or Television are used, they are
the final term in the form/genre string.
The form subdivisions Radio, Television and Shortwave
broadcasts are used to indicate whether the material
being cataloged is the sound from a radio program, the sound
from a television program, or the sound from a radio shortwave
broadcast respectively. It is not necessary to determine whether
the program was actually broadcast on the radio or television.
If the format of the program is unknown, then none of these
three subdivisions is applied. A general note may be used to
indicate that the format is unknown.
Nationality may also be a general subdivision. The adjective
form for the nationality (e.g., Propaganda--German--Radio) is
used. A nationality subdivision relates to the origin or source
of the broadcast and not to the program content (i.e., it is
used for a broadcast from Germany or for a program produced by
Germans, but not for an NBC program about Germans or Germany).
Geographic subdivisions are expressed "indirectly," i.e., with
the larger jurisdiction preceding the smaller, according to Library
of Congress cataloging policy. The geographic place indicates
where the program(s) was made, not the place(s) depicted.
The date subdivision represents the date the program was made,
not the date depicted in the program. Single years or date spans
are used. Question marks, "ca.," or dashes (189-) are not used.
All of the appropriate cataloging documents are used to devise
subdivisions for the form/genre string. These include, the USMARC
code lists for geographic areas, countries, and languages.
In MARC records, a radio form/genre is entered in subfield
|a of field 655. The Library of Congress has assigned the code radfg to
this thesaurus. The code must is entered in subfield |2 of the
In non-MARC records, a radio form/genre is entered in the first
unlabeled subfield of the Form/Genre field. The code "MBRS" is
placed in subfield |a after the form/genre string to indicate
that it came from this list.
Form/genre terms from other specialized lists may also be applied
in catalog records for radio programs according to all the appropriate
Library of Congress cataloging rules and policies. In MARC records,
the form/genre term is placed in subfield |a of field 655 and
identified with the appropriate code in subfield |2. In non-MARC
records the form/genre term is placed in the first unlabeled
subfield of the Form/Genre field.
New terms, corrections, and alterations to terms, scope notes
and references are welcome. Any new proposals should be accompanied
by notes and references. Address correspondence to:
Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center Recorded Sound Processing, Rm. LM 119C Washington,