What Is Genre? How Do We Talk About Fiction?: Assessing Complementary Schemas and Approaches


  • Denice Adkins University of Missouri iSchool
  • Jenny S. Bossaller University of Missouri iSchool
  • Heather Moulaison-Sandy University of Missouri iSchool
  • Hyerim Cho University of Missouri iSchool




Describing fiction is notoriously problematic. One aspect of this is the designation “genre” which can mean different things to different communities involved in the book trade, such as publishers/authors, readers, and information professionals. Using sources created by all three (i.e., ProQuest and New York Times Book Review, Library of Congress bibliographic records, GoodReads categories, New York Public Library catalog user-supplied content, and Amazon categories), aboutness and isness metadata are harvested for two novels. Ultimately, we find that although the vocabularies each have different purposes and intended audiences, the compilation of terms from different sources presents a coherent image of a title. Future work in knowledge organization (KO) should consider how best to harness information from multiple sources in providing library users with a more robust perspective on fiction titles.