Genre headings for finding aids in the library catalog

We recently had an Archon problem. Due to some compatibility issues with a PHP update (I understand there is an update in the works) finding aids created or edited after a certain date no longer displayed container lists. Staff could still see them by going into the administrator side of things, but they wouldn’t display in the public view.

This was a problem (that we’ve since fixed by migrating to a local platform) and patrons could still see the rest of the information, but it made me worry about what might happen to our ability to display finding aids to the public if Archon ever went down hard. Since we create MARC records for our finding aids anyway, I asked our cataloging unit to add a genre term for “finding aids” to the MARC records in our OPAC.

The Library of Congress Genre/Form terms includes “finding aids” as an official term. By adding this to our MARC finding aid records using a 655 _ 7 Finding aids $2 lcgft field we tied our finding aids together with a controlled vocabulary term.

We can’t do a search by just a genre heading, but by using Rayfield (the name of the archives) as a keyword (it shows up in the preferred citation field in every finding aid record) and the genre term finding aids we could create a pretty simple canned search for all of our finding aids (that only returned the finding aids) in the catalog.

For anyone who wants to see it, the search is:…

A more thorough explanation of the LCGFT can be found here:

And the complete list of forms here:…/publications/FreeLCGFT/freelcgft.html

under the Genre/Form Terms (PDF, 77 pages, 492 KB)link (warning, PDF):

It’s not an Earth-shattering idea, but I thought it was handy and seemed worth mentioning. Your mileage may also vary depending on how your OPAC and/or display is set up. We had a little less than a hundred finding aids to add the genre term to, and I was able to provide a list of OCLC numbers, so we just did it by hand. If you have a lot of catalog records you might want to look into a more automated way to go about this though.

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