IFLA Genre/Form Working Group


Genre/form terms describe what something “is”, rather than what it is “about “. The latter has been the traditional emphasis of the IFLA Subject Analysis and Access Section, but since genre/form terms also provide relevant information relating to the resource, the issue was discussed on several occasions. Finally,  the proposal for establishing a working group was presented in 2013, in Singapore, and a group was formally established in 2014. Over the years, the Genre/Form Working Group became a joint working group of the IFLA Subject Analysis and Access Section and the Cataloguing Section.

Genre/form terms can assist the user “by providing access points for the forms and genres of expressions” (Frequently Asked Questions about Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials (LCGFT), rev. June 6, 2011; question 15). Still, genre/form plays a minor role, insofar as it appears at all, in the IFLA Library Reference Model, the Statement of International Cataloguing Principles (ICP), and RDA (Resource Description & Access). However, as our global survey confirmed, these terms are already used to different degrees, in several cataloguing traditions, such as the German, Swedish, and Anglo-American. 

The primary goal of this working group is to monitor and provide information about usage, developments and projects relating to genre/form worldwide and to promote and facilitate the knowledge about genre/form among the professional community.  

Minutes of meetings


Projects and Publications

Compilation of references and vocabularies related to Genre/Form [2018-]. Ongoing project

Beginning in 2018, this compilation aims to be a continuing bibliography of basic references (journal articles, presentations, manuals) on Genre/Form, in any language, related to any aspect of the G/F world: general overviews, methodological approaches, projects descriptions. The compilation also includes G/F related vocabularies, thesauri, and lists, online or physical, in any language, related to genre/form aspects, to be used as authoritative sources or reference sources to build other vocabularies, general or specialized in scope.

The compilation was initially assembled by section members, but it’s now open to the wider community. Suggestions for additions to the compilation can be made via the forms below.

Bibliographic references compilation

Resources and Vocabularies

Resources and vocabularies suggestions form

Bibliographic references suggestions form

Genre/form use in national libraries: a global survey [2017]. Closed project

From February to April 2017 a general survey was conducted to explore the use of Genre/form description in national libraries worldwide. The survey’s stated aim was “to examine and analyse cataloguing practices concerning genre/form terms and the use of genre/form vocabularies in national libraries worldwide”. The survey also examined the differences and the similarities of its application across libraries, as well as the perceived benefits and the hurdles.

The survey consisted of 87 questions, divided up into various sections, according to the different degree of G/F use. It received responses from 77 countries.


  • Ana Stevanovic, Co-chair
    National Library of Serbia
  • Ricardo Santos, Co-chair
    National Library of Spain
    Liaison from IFLA Cataloguing Standing Committee
  • Marie Balikova
    National Library of the Czech Republic
  • Harriet Aagaard
    National Library of Sweden
  • Jean Maury
    Bibliothèque nationale de France
  • Rehab Ouf
    Bibliotheca Alexandrina
  • George Prager
    New York University Law School 
  • Viktoria Lundborg
    National Library of Sweden
  • Jeff Barton
    Princeton University Library
  • Brenna Bychowski
    Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University
  • Iris O'Brien 
    British Library
  • Kamil Pawlicki
    National Library of Poland
  • Brisa Pozzi de Sousa
    Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO)
  • Richard Sapon White
    Oregon State University Libraries
  • Duncan Stewart
    University of Iowa Libraries
  • Jennifer Wright
    Bibliographic Data Services Limited, United Kingdom 
    Liaison from IFLA Cataloguing Standing Committee         

Subject Analysis and Access, Indexing, genres, forms

Last update: 28 May 2021