ATLA > Member Center > Programs & Initiatives > Genre Forms for Religious Terms Project

Genre Forms for Religious Terms Project


ATLA is pleased to collaborate with the Library of Congress on the Religion Genre/Form Project, which will kick off in June 2010. ATLA staff will coordinate the discussion and responses as described below. ATLA seeks input from all catalogers interested in religion and will be working closely with the Catholic Library Association and Association of Jewish Libraries.

In July 2008, the Library of Congress Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access (ABA) management team approved five new genre/form projects to be undertaken by the Policy and Standards Division (which was then called the Cataloging Policy and Support Office): cartography, law, literature, music, and religion. In addition, LC identified ATLA as the organization through which comments on the religion terms would be centralized.

Suggestions for genre/form terms (MARC codes 155/655) were solicited from the ATLA membership at large and cooperating organizations.


From OCLC's Bibliographic Formats and Standards, 4th ed.,655 Index Term–Genre/Form:

A term indicating the form, genre and/or physical characteristics of the materials being described. Genre terms for textual materials designate specific kinds of materials distinguished by the style or technique of their intellectual content (e.g., biographies, catechisms, essays, hymns or reviews).

Form and physical characteristic terms designate functionally and historically specific kinds of materials. Distinguish terms by an examination of the physical character, by the order of information within the item or by the subject of the intellectual content (e.g., daybooks, diaries, directories, journals, memoranda, questionnaires, syllabi or time sheets).

PSD's Genre/Form Projects Web Page

The Policy and Standards Division has developed a web page that provides extensive information about the genre/form projects, including an extensive FAQ, timeline, announcements, and discussion papers. Also included is a link to a webcast of a 2009 presentation for LC staff entitled "Expanding the Power of the Library's Family of Vocabularies: Genre/Form Headings," which explains how genre/form headings differ from subject headings, the goals of the projects, and some of the policies that have already been developed.

Current Status

A third draft of terms was submitted to LC in August 2012. They appeared on LC’s Tentative List 1518 (, to be approved on September 8, 2015. PSD is requesting comments on the terms from the library community; please email Janis L. Young at through August 31, 2015. Following standard policy, LC catalogers and members of the Subject Authority Cooperative (SACO) program will be able to propose additional genre/form terms for religious materials as well as revisions to existing terms. PSD will separately announce the date on which it will begin to accept proposals for new and revised genre/form terms for religious materials.