Classification of Law Materials

Classification of Law Materials

General Genre/form

The Library of Congress (LC) added, in 2015, the much-anticipated “general genre/form terms” to the Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials (LCGFT), and they are live in the authority file. The project to develop these general genre/form terms was a partnership between LC’s Policy and Standards Division (PSD) and the American Library Association’s Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) Subject Analysis Committee’s Subcommittee on Genre/Form Implementation (SAC-SGFI), which formed
the General Terms Working Group. The Working Group based its list on subject headings and form subdivisions in Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), but did not limit their proposed terms exclusively to LCSH.

Within these new general genre/form terms, there are ten “umbrella” terms which serve to collocate more specific genre/form terms: Commemorative works, Creative nonfiction, Derivative works, Discursive works, Ephemera, Illustrated works, Informational works, Instructional and educational works, Recreational works, and Tactile works. Catalogers will not assign these broad genre/form terms frequently, if at all. Instead, they will use more specific terms (e.g., you would use “Study guides” or “Textbooks” instead of “Instructional and educational works” ). These broad terms are analogous to the genre/form term “Law materials” that serves to collocate the law specific genre/form terms.

The LC’s Policy and Standards Division had no plans to cancel any of the LCSH headings or form subdivisions that overlap with the new general genre/form terms. LC encourages libraries choosing to use these new genre/form terms to assign them in addition to subdivided
subject headings. Thus, these genre/form terms (MARC 655s) and LCSH and/or form subdivisions (MARC 650s and 650 $v) will coexist, at least for the time being.

650 0 Justices of the peace $z Italy $v Biography.
655 7 Biographies. $2 lcgft
600 10 O’Connor, Sandra Day, $d 1930- $v Correspondence
655 7 Personal correspondence. $2 lcgft
650 0 Nanotechnology $x Research $x Law and legislation $v Congresses
655 7 Conference papers and proceedings. $2 lcgft
650 0 Law $z United States $v Dictionaries
655 7 Dictionaries. $2 lcgft

This is similar to how many law catalogers have been applying the legal genre/form terms.

650 0 Law reports, digests, etc. $z France
655 7 Court decisions and opinions. $2 lcgft
650 0 Constitutional law $z United States $v Digests
655 7 Law digests. $2 lcgft

LC, in 2005, had not decided when they would begin using these new genre/form terms in their cataloging. PSD and SAC-SGFI were working on the LC Genre/Form Manual, which will be
similar in structure and scope to LC’s Subject Headings Manual. In relation to adding genre/form terms retrospectively to existing bibliographic records, librarians will certainly never be able to add these terms to every single potential record, but, with the creative use of global updating, they should be able to add them to many existing records that need them. [1]

New general genre/form terms of interest to law libraries include the following [2]:

  • Abridgments
  • Abstracts
  • Academic theses
  • Almanacs
  • Annual reports
  • Autobiographies
  • Bibliographies
  • Biographies
  • Blank forms
  • Blogs
  • Catalogs
  • Census data
  • City directories
  • Concordances
  • Conference materials
  • Conference papers and proceedings
  • Continuing education materials
  • Course materials
  • Databases
  • Death registers
  • Debates
  • Dictionaries
  • Directories
  • Encyclopedias
  • Essays
  • Examinations
  • Facsimiles
  • Finding aids
  • Gazetteers
  • Handbooks and manuals
  • Humor
  • Indexes
  • Interviews
  • Lectures
  • Minutes (Records)
  • Newspapers
  • Newsletters
  • Outlines and syllabi
  • Quotations
  • Periodicals
  • Personal correspondence
  • Problems and exercises
  • Programmed instructional materials
  • Records (Documents)
  • Reference works
  • Registers (Lists)
  • School yearbooks
  • Serial publications
  • Speeches
  • Statistics
  • Study guides
  • Style manuals
  • Tables (Data)
  • Teachers’ guides
  • Telephone directories
  • Textbooks
  • Thesauri (Dictionaries)
  • Trademark lists
  • Union catalogs
  • Vital statistics
  • Yearbooks
  • Yellow pages



1. Based on the writings of Robert Bratton (George Washington University Law Library) for the Library of Congress Newsletter.
2. Many thanks to Yael Mandelstam and the TS-SIS Classification and Subject Cataloging Advisory Working Group for compiling these.

See Also

Further Reading

Abaee, G., Chang, N., Nishimura, S., & Yearwood-Lee, E. (2005). Classification of law materials: A comparison of the Moys classification and the KF Modified systems.
Abols, E. (1988). The Los Angeles County Law library K classification and the Department of Justice’s library collection, Ottawa. In Hebditch (1988, pp. 399-400).
Beresford, A. (1988). Why Moys? In Hebditch (1988, pp. 393-394).
Boudinot, D., Sutherland, S., & Ure, L. (2004). Elizabeth (Betty) M. Moys and the Moys classification scheme.
Cataloguing Policy and Support Office, Library Services, Library of Congress. 1999. Library of Congress classification: KE law of Canada (Rev. ed.). Washington, DC: Library of Congress, Cataloguing Distribution Service.
Dvorak, D. (1997). Technical services practices in Canadian law libraries: Report on the 1995 survey. Canadian Law Libraries, 22(4), 186-190.
Fraser, J. N. (Ed.). (1988). Law libraries in Canada: Essays to honour Diana M. Priestly. Toronto: Carswell.
Ginsburg, J. (1988a). A note on the KF classification schedule for use in Canadian law libraries. In Fraser (1988, pp. 159-161).
Ginsburg, J. (1988b). KF classification modified for use in Canadian law libraries. In Hebditch (1988, pp. 392-393).
Ginsburg, J., Knight, T., & Rashid, H. (2003). KF Modified [Session I]. Paper presented at the 41st Annual Conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries, May 25-28, 2003, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON.
Hall, N., Ginsburg, J., & McKenna, P. (Eds.). (1982- ). KF classification, modified for use in Canadian law libraries. Downsview, ON: York University Law library .
Hebditch, S. A. (Ed.). (1988). Classification schemes used in law libraries in Canada. CALL Newsletter, 13(5), 392-400.
Inselberg, D. (1988). Home-grown classification schemes: The Russell & DuMoulin experience. In Hebditch (1988, p. 396).
Knight, F. T. (2002). The future of KF modified in Canadian law libraries. Canadian Law Libraries, 27(1), 20-31.
van Laer, C. J. P. (1999). A comparative lawyer’s review of the LC classification system [Electronic version]. Law Library Journal, 91, 305-311.
Liebowitz, S. J., & Margolis, S. E. (2001). Winners, losers & Microsoft: Competition and antitrust in high technology (Rev. ed.). Oakland, CA: Independent Institute.
MacKellar, M. (1988). Canadian Tax Foundation Library. In Hebditch (1988, p. 395).
Madewan, M. (1992). KF user’s group. Canadian Law Libraries, 17(4), 152-153.
Moys, E. M. (Ed.). (1987). Manual of Law Librarianship : The use and organization of legal literature. Boston, MA: G. K. Hall.
Moys, E. M. (1992). History of a classification scheme. The Law Librarian, 23(2), 96-98.
Moys, E. M. (2001). Moys Classification and Thesaurus for Legal Materials (4th ed.). Revised and expanded by E. M. Moys, C. Miller, S. Pettit, V. Price & K. C. Rudd. Munich: K. G. Saur.
Rae, E. A. (1988). The development of the KE classification schedule for Canadian law: The politics of expediency. In Fraser (1988, pp. 147-158).
Rapkin, L. (1988). Classification of books in McGill University Law Library. In Hebditch (1988, pp. 396-397).
Rashid, H. (1984). KF Canadian adaptation scheme: One decade later. Canadian Library Journal, 41(2), 75-77.
Rashid, H. (1988). KF Canadian adaptation in the National Library of Canada CIP Programme. In Hebditch (1988, pp. 397-399).
Rashid, H. (1994). KF Canadian adaptation: Expansion of geographical divisions. Canadian Law Libraries, 19(2), 68.
Rashid, H. (1994). KF Canadian users’ group. Canadian Law Libraries, 19(3), 124.
Sainsbury, I. (1989). Cataloguing and classification practice in law libraries. The Law Librarian, 20(2), 62-64.
Stone, A. T., & Tam, J. (1991). Cataloguing and classification of law materials: A survey of recent literature [Electronic version]. Law Library Journal, 83, 721-762.
Tearle, B. (2002). Memorial: Elizabeth Mary Moys (1928-2002) [Electronic version]. Law Library Journal, 94, 547-552. [Revised version of earlier 2002 tribute in Legal Information Management, 2, 4-7.]

Mentioned in these Entries

Cataloging for legal materials, Classification for Law Libraries, Classification schemes in the UK, International law classification: JX System, KF Modified, Law Classification, Law Librarianship, Law library, Locarno Agreement establishing an International Classification for Industrial Designs, Moys Classification and Thesaurus for Legal Materials, Rights and the Law Classification, Historical, Thesaurus of Law GenreForm Terms, Thesaurus.



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