Cataloguing Graphic Novels and Graphic Non-Fiction, Part I

I thought I’d write about cataloguing graphic novels and graphic non-fiction today. This is an issue that was raised in our department recently and involved the addition of subject headings to our records to identify fiction and non-fiction graphic novels. In other words, what do we put in the $v of the 650 field.

Before I go into this though, it is important to understand what we put in our 655 field. The reason for this is that my decision regarding the use and subdvision of subject headings was based on what we include in our 655s.

Because this could end up being a very long post, I’m going to split this discussion into two entries. In this post, I am going to talk about 655 genre headings for Graphic Fiction and Non-Fiction.

When we began our graphic novel collection, our practice was to add 655 genre headings only. There were no subject headings assigned because all of the graphic novels belonged in the YA and Adult collections. The rationale was that the collection was small enough that those patrons looking for graphic novels would search by genre or series, rather than subject.

In later years, we started developing a Juvenile graphic novel collection as well as an Adult and YA graphic non-fiction collection. Issues then arose over how to differentiate between the Adult/YA collection and the J collection. At this time, all of the graphic novels were still fiction. As a result, all of the items which fell under “Graphic Novels” were given the classification number 741.5. Wanting to retain this uniformity, it was decided that we needed to take a closer look at the genre headings to help patrons distringuish J, YA and Adult graphic novels.

It was then decided that we would make local genre headings based on the LC’s genre headings. This would allow patrons to continue to browse by genre, series, artists, etc. and at the same time, be able to distinguish if it was a J graphic novel or Adult/YA graphic novel by looking at the genre headings in the bibliographic record. In addition, separate collection codes were created for each.

Example of LC’s genre headings with our local headings are below:
655 _ 7 $aFantasy comic books, strips, etc. $2lcsh
655 _ 7 $aFantasy comic books, strips, etc., Juvenile. $2local

655 _7 $aGraphic novels. $2lcsh
655 _7 $aGraphic novels, Juvenile.$2local

655 _7 $aComic books, strips, etc. $2lcsh
655 _7 $aComic books, strips, etc., Juvenile. $2local

Also, cataloguers were given the go ahead to create new genre headings if they felt a more specific genre heading would be appropriate. However, they would only be at liberty to do so if the “new” genre heading related to our LC fiction genres already found in the catalogue.

This policy was working very well and frontline staff were providing us with positive feedback, until graphic non-fiction started to make its appearance. When we started to grow a graphic non-fiction collection and the content began to become more mature, we needed to think about how we were cataloguing fiction and non-fiction.

With the growing popularity of graphic non-fiction, we had to make further choices for access of these materials. Our first decision was to classify graphic non-fiction in accordance with our existing practices of cataloguing non-fiction. Each graphic non-fiction item would be assigned a classification number that reflected the content of the item. At that time, we also decided to alter our genre headings to reflect fiction or non-fiction. In this regard, we created local genre headings that mirrored the existing graphic novels headings.

Graphic novels (fiction)
655 _7 $a Graphic novels. $2lcsh or 655 _7 $a Graphic novels, Juvenile. $2local

Graphic non-fiction
655 _7 $aGraphic non-fiction. $2local or 655 _7$aGraphic non-fiction, Juvenile. $2local

As a result, the classification number and collection code would indicate that the item was non-fiction, and the 655 genre heading(s) would indicate whether the item was fiction, non-fiction, J, YA or Adult.

My next post will deal directly with the challenges, our original decision on how to deal with it, and then our reversal in this decision and how we catalogue these materials. Specifically, it will discussion the introduction of subject headings in graphic novels/non-fiction bibliographic records.

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1 Comment

Filed under Access Issues, Subject Headings

One response to “Cataloguing Graphic Novels and Graphic Non-Fiction, Part I

  1. Pingback: Graphic Novels: Cataloguing Issues « The Cataloguing Librarian

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