H 1790 Literature: Fiction


1. General rule. For collections of fiction, assign as many headings as necessary to bring out both the form and the topic(s). For single works of fiction, assign headings to bring out topic(s) and form only as noted in sec. 4, below.


2. Designating the form of collections.

a. Bring out the form of a collection by assigning headings of the type American fiction–20th century; Short stories, American; Epistolary fiction; etc., as in the first heading in the following example:

Title:   Garden tales : classic stories from favorite writers.

650 #0 $a Short stories, American.

650 #0 $a Gardens $v Fiction.


Certain phrase headings combine both form and topical aspects into a single heading, for example, Detective and mystery stories, American; Science fiction, American; etc. These headings are used to designate both the form and the topic of collections, and no additional heading is usually required.

Do not use a phrase heading of this type if a more specific [topic]Fiction heading can be formulated to designate the topic of the collection. Instead, assign the more specific heading in conjunction with a broader, nontopical, form heading. For example, assign the following headings to a collection of American stories about jungle warfare:

650 #0 $a American fiction.

650 #0 $a Jungle warfare $v Fiction.


[not 650 #0 $a War stories, American.]


[not 650 #0 $a War stories, American.

650 #0 $a Jungle warfare $v Fiction.]


b. Collections of fiction by one author. As a general rule, assign form headings (a) if the form heading includes a topical aspect, for example, Western stories, or (b) if it is readily apparent from a cursory examination of the work that it comprises fiction of a highly specific form and that this form is an essential point of the collection, for example, Allegories; Fairy tales; Radio stories; Children's stories, English; etc.


Do not assign nonspecific form headings to collections of fiction by one author, for example, American fiction; Short stories, American.


c. Collections of children's fiction. Assign the heading Children's stories or Children's stories, American, [English, etc.] to collections of children's fiction, whether by one author or several authors, in addition to the other required form and topical headings. Do not assign this heading to collections of fiction for young adults.


3. Designating the topic(s) of collections by one or several authors. Bring out identifiable topics, using one of the following types of headings:

a. [topic]Fiction or [topic]Juvenile fiction. Use headings of this type as the standard means of designating topics in fiction, for example, SlaveryUnited States–Fiction; Parent and childFiction; HorsesFiction; Paris (France)Fiction; VoodooismFiction.

Note: The subdivision –Stories, which had formerly been used under some topics is no longer to be used. Use only –Fiction.


b. Phrase headings with topical aspects. If a phrase heading has both form and topical aspects, assign only the one heading to designate both form and topic, as described in sec. 2.a, above. Sea stories, Western stories, and Love stories are examples of such headings.


c. Individual characters. If the collection of fiction features as its theme an individual character or family, real or imaginary, bring out the character(s), for example, Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865–Fiction; Tarzan (Fictitious character)Fiction; Holmes, Sherlock (Fictitious character)Fiction; Alcott familyFiction.

LC practice: Sec. 4, below, describes standard practice followed at the Library of Congress. For an alternative approach to individual works of fiction, see the section SPECIAL PROVISIONS FOR INCREASED SUBJECT ACCESS TO FICTION at the end of this instruction sheet.


4. Individual works of fiction. Bring out topic(s) only for the following types of individual works of fiction:

a. Biographical fiction. Assign the heading [name of biographee]Fiction.


b. Historical fiction. Assign headings for specific historical events, periods, etc., with the subdivision –Fiction, e.g. World War, 1939-1945Fiction; EarthquakesCaliforniaSan FranciscoFiction.


Do not assign a heading of this type when the event or period is merely the backdrop to a story. Assign it only when the event or period is the principal focus of the work.


Interpret the term historical fiction broadly to include works about entities such as movements, corporate bodies other than jurisdictions, camps, parks, structures, geographical features other than regions, ethnic groups, disasters, categories of events, etc.


c. Animal stories. Assign the heading AnimalsFiction to individual novels or stories about animals in general. For a work about a specific type of animal, assign a heading for the type of animal with the subdivision –Fiction, e.g. HorsesFiction.

Assign no form headings to individual works of adult fiction, children's fiction, or young adult fiction.


5. Limitations on assigning headings. Assign topical and form headings, especially to single works of fiction or to collections by one author, only as they come readily to mind after a superficial review of the work being cataloged.

Do not attempt to assign a form heading to a collection of fiction by one author if the form is not stated on the title page or in another prominent location.

Do not attempt to discern topics which have not been made explicit by the author or publisher, or which could be interpreted as representing value judgments.


6. History and criticism.

a. General rule. For works about particular themes in fiction, assign as many headings as necessary to bring out the form (with subdivision –History and criticism) and the topic(s) (normally using headings of the type [topic] in literature), e.g.

650 #0 $a American fiction $y 20th century $x History and criticism.

650 #0 $a Politics in literature.


If a heading has both form and topical aspects, assign only the single heading with the subdivision –History and criticism, e.g. Detective and mystery stories, American History and criticism.


b. Fiction about individual persons or families. For criticism of fiction about particular individuals or families, including dynasties and royal houses, assign the name of the person or family with the free-floating subdivision –In literature, e.g. Faust, d. ca. 1540In literature; Mann familyIn literature.


c. Fiction about imaginary persons. For criticism of fiction about particular imaginary individuals, assign the name of the person. Also assign if appropriate for the work the name of the author with the subdivision –Characters[name of character] (cf. H 1610). Example:

600 10 $a Doyle, Arthur Conan, $c Sir, $d 1859-1930 $x Characters $x Sherlock Holmes.

650 #0 $a Holmes, Sherlock (Fictitious character)


d. Fiction about individual corporate bodies, places, and sacred works. For criticism of fiction about particular corporate bodies, places, or sacred works, assign the name of the entity with the free-floating subdivision –In literature, e.g. United States. Federal Bureau of InvestigationIn literature; TahitiIn literature; BibleIn literature.


e. Fiction about wars and similar events. For works about the fiction of a specific war, revolution, uprising, etc., assign [name of event]Literature and the war, [revolution, uprising, etc.] as a topical heading (cf. H 1200).


f. Single works of fiction. For works about an individual novel or story in one of the categories described in sec. 4.a-4.c, above, assign a heading for the individual work as well as a heading for the theme, e.g.

600 10 $a Mitchell, Margaret, $d 1900-1949. $t Gone with the wind.

650 #0 $a United States $x History $y Civil War, 1861-1865 $x Literature and the war.


LC practice:

1. Application of special provisions. The Library of Congress applies special provisions for increased subject access to fiction as internal resources permit. As of January 2001 these provisions were being applied to cataloging for current acquisitions of American novels and novels of other English-language literatures.


2. General principles. The assignment of subject headings to individual works of fiction is intended to provide the average public library user with an additional method of selecting recreational reading. Several types of subject headings are available to provide this access. Any, all, or none of the following categories of headings may be appropriate for an individual work of fiction: form/genre, character, setting, topic. These headings should be assigned only as they come readily to mind after a superficial review of the work being cataloged.


3. Form and genre headings.

a. Source of headings. Select an appropriate heading or headings from the Guidelines on Subject Access to Individual Works of Fiction, Drama, Etc., for example, Love stories; Science fiction. If an appropriate genre heading is not available from the Guidelines, an unqualified genre heading may be selected from LCSH. Generally assign no more than one or two genre headings, expressing only the primary genre(s) of the work.


b. Specificity. Apply the same principle of specificity used in non-literary cataloging, e.g. Arthurian romances, not Romances; War stories, not Historical fiction. Do not assign broad headings such as Fiction or Short stories. Do not include adjectival qualifiers or subdivisions that show the language of the work or that reflect the characteristics of the author, such as nationality, religion, sex, ethnic background.


c. MARC21 content designation and input conventions. Form/genre headings for individual works use the MARC tag 655, not 650. The second indicator contains the valueand the source of the heading is given in subfield $2 (either gsafd or lcsh). When assigned, these headings are input following other LC subject headings and following any AC juvenile subject headings.

d. Updating of form/genre headings. LC will maintain the currency of form/genre headings for which the source is LCSH. Headings from the Guidelines will be assigned from the most current edition available at the time of cataloging, but will not be updated if changes are made in later editions.


4. Character(s)

a. Individual characters. If the work prominently features a real person, a legendary character, or other major character not created by the author of the work, assign a subject heading for the name of the character with appropriate subdivision such as –Fiction or –Juvenile fiction. If the primary character is a fictitious character created by the author, assign a subject heading only if the character appears in three or more works. For instructions on proposing subject headings for fictitious characters see H 1610.


b. Classes of persons. A heading may also be assigned for the class of persons to which the primary character belongs if that class of persons is established and is likely to be sought by the typical public library user, for example, women detectives. Generally follow the same principles that are used for selecting class-of-persons headings for individual biographies.


5. Setting. Assign a subject heading for a place, event, or time period that is featured prominently in an individual work. Since almost all fictitious works have a specific place and time, assign these headings only if the place or time is significant. Generally do not assign headings for a time period that is contemporaneous to the period in which the work was written, for example, do not express the 19th-century setting of a work that was written in the 19th century. Generally do not assign a heading for the country in which the work is set when that country corresponds to the country in which the author lives. Assign a subject for an imaginary place or organization only if the place appears in three or more works. The place of the work may also be included as a subdivision of a topical heading, in accordance with normal subject cataloging practice, either in addition to a separate heading for place or as a substitute for a separate heading.


6. Topical access. Assign headings for specific topics that are the focal point of an individual literary work. Assign headings only for topics that have been made explicit by the author or publisher, such as those topics that are mentioned in the title, series, introductory matter, dustjacket, or other prominent location. The purpose of the topical heading is to provide access for those topics that distinguish the work from most other works. Do not assign headings for vague and general topics, such as fate, evil, belief, psychology, interpersonal relations, emotions, social customs, or community life. The same principle of specificity should be applied as is used in non-literary cataloging. Do not assign both a broader and more specific heading to the same work; assign only the most specific heading that is appropriate. Normally no more than one or two topical headings should be assigned. Many works will have no topical heading.

7. Examples.

Title:   Yankee warrior : the story of a Civil War hero from Maine.

600 10 $a Morrill, Walter Goodale, $d 1840-1935 $v Fiction.

651 #0 $a United States $x History $y Civil War, 1861-1865 $v Fiction.

655 #7 $a Biographical fiction. $2 gsafd

655 #7 $a War stories. $2 gsafd


Title:   The red horseman.

650 #0 $a Grafton, Jake (Fictitious character) $v Fiction.

650 #0 $a Nuclear weapons plants $v Fiction.

650 #0 $a Terrorism $v Fiction.

651 #0 $a Russia (Federation) $v Fiction.

655 #7 $a Spy stories. $2 gsafd


Title:   Pinocchio in Venice.

650 #0 $a Pinocchio (Fictitious character) $v Fiction.

651 #0 $a Venice (Italy) $v Fiction.


Title:   The helpful ghost.

655 #7 $a Love stories. $2 gsafd

655 #7 $a Ghost stories. $2 gsafd


Title:   First degree love : a novel of euthanasia.

650 #0 $a Euthanasia $v Fiction.

651 #0 $a Kentucky $v Fiction.

655 #7 $a Medical novels. $2 gsafd


Title:   The French Consul.

650 #0 $a Consuls $z China $v Fiction.

651 #0 $a China $x History $y Warlord period, 1916-1928 $v Fiction.

655 #7 $a Historical fiction. $2 gsafd

655 #7 $a Political fiction. $2 lcsh


Title:   The story of Rolf and the Viking bow.

651 #0 $a Iceland $x History $y To 1262 $v Juvenile fiction.

651 #0 $a Iceland $x History $y To 1262 $v Fiction.

650 #0 $a Vikings $v Fiction.

650 #1 $a Adventure and adventurers $v Fiction.

650 #1 $a Middle Ages $v Fiction.

655 #7 $a Historical fiction. $2 gsafd



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