The Role of Genre in the Bibliographic Universe

Lei Zhang, Hur-Li Lee


This paper examines the role of genre in organizing bibliographic information through three sets of modern cataloging rules spanning 171 years: Panizzi’s Rules for the Compilation of the Catalogue (91 Rules), Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules Second Edition 2002 Revision (AACR2r), and Resource Description and Access (RDA). Genre-related rules are identified on the basis of their inclusion of the keywords “genre(s)” and “form(s).” Then, the identified rules are analyzed from two aspects: the contexts in which these rules are addressed and four user tasks defined by the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR)—find, identify, select and obtain. Genre is found absent in 91 Rules and mostly addressed in the note area in AACR2r, while in RDA, genre acts as the primary distinguishing characteristic of work and can be implemented widely as additions to access points, as separate elements, or as both. In conclusion, the paper suggests that the genre concept has yet to be clearly defined and its significance fully articulated in cataloging as well as in the broader discipline of knowledge organization.


Genre, Anglo-American cataloging rules, Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records

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