Recommendations on Form Data to LC

July 16, 1994

Sarah Thomas
Director for Cataloging
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20540

Dear Sarah:

The Subject Analysis Committee Subcommittee on the Nature and Use of Form Data finished its work at the ALA Annual Conference in Miami. The enclosed recommendations to the Library of Congress are one result of the Subcommittee's work. The Subject Analysis Committee joins with its Subcommittee on the Nature and Use of Form Data to urge you to implement these recommendations. It should also be noted that the Subcommittee discussed whether it is necessary to implement these recommendations retrospectively in order to implement them beginning now. There was a strong feeling that it would not be necessary to do retrospective conversion at this time in order to begin implementation. "The future is longer than the past."


Arlene G. Taylor
Chair (1992-94), Subject Analysis Committee

P.S. Response to this letter should be sent to the new chair of SAC:

Mary Charles Lasater
104 Ravenwood Court
Franklin, TN 37064

Lynn El-Hoshy, LC Liaison to SAC
Subject Analysis Committee Members,
Liaisons, and Subcommittee Chairs
Mary Charles Lasater, Chair (1994-95), Subject Analysis Committee
John Duke, Chair, Cataloging and Classification Section
Karen Muller, Executive Director, ALCTS

American Library Association
Association for Library Collections and Technical Services
Cataloging and Classification Section


  1. We recommend that a subfield code be established for form subdivisions. This would parallel the codes y and z now used for chronological and geographical subdivisions. This would permit computers to distinguish form from topical subdivisions for the purposes of searching, filing, displaying, validating, or internally rearranging heading strings.
  2. We consider that the appropriate place in a USMARC record for form data is in the 655 field and/or in a form subfield.
  3. We recommend that the 755 field be made obsolete and that the 655 field be used instead.
  4. We recommend that form data applicable to individual items be treated in the same way as is form data applicable to collections.


     Use 	655 	Science fiction
    whether the item is a novel or an anthology 
  5. We recommend that elements in a subject string be content designated according to their function in the string. In particular when a term that sometimes designates form is used to designate a topic, it should be coded as a topic.


     Use 	650	 English language $v Dictionaries
    when an item is a dictionary 

    Use 650 English language $x Dictionaries when an item is about dictionaries

    Use 655 Cartoons when an item is a cartoon or a collection of cartoons

    Use 650 Cartoons when an item is about cartoons

  6. We recommend that the ambiguity of certain form subdivisions in LC subject strings be reduced.


     Use 	--Conference proceedings
    rather than 	--Congresses
    as a form subdivision 

    Use --Exhibition catalogs rather than --Exhibitions as a form subdivision

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