Yes, this is exactly the sort of thing our media catalogers regularly complain about to me.  Ghost plays is not an appropriate heading to include on a record for a film.  In 2019 we made a SACO proposal to try to resolve one of these kinds of problems that was not approved:

June 2019 Summary of Decisions:

Dystopian plays

This proposal was made to remove the UFs Dystopias—Drama and Dystopias—Juvenile drama from the established heading. The references follow a well-established pattern in LCSH.  The proposal included a cataloger’s note opining that the UFs needed to be removed so that Dystopias—Drama could be assigned to a television program. The genre/form term Dystopian television programs was created for this purpose and should be assigned to the work being cataloged. The proposal was not approved.

It's the same situation that you note about ghost plays.  The cataloger wanted to assign Dystopias--Drama to a DVD for a television program.  That flips to Dystopian plays, which is not appropriate.  Therefore, subject access for fictional moving image works that are about dystopias is lost.  The subject serves a different purpose from the genre/form heading and is faceted and indexed differently in most discovery systems. 

There's also a lot of inconsistency that could be confusing to clients.  For example, as someone noted, you can subdivide some sports by $v Fiction, but not others.  LCSH has Baseball stories, Basketball stories, Boxing stories, Cricket stories, Figure skating stories, Fishing stories, Football stories, Golf stories, Hockey stories, Hunting stories, Soccer stories, and Tennis stories, so you cannot subdivide any of those sports by $v Fiction or $v Juvenile fiction. But you may use these form subdivisions with other sports like Gymnastics, Karate, Swimming, Track and field, and Volleyball.  One way around the problem is to assign class of persons headings subdivided by literary form (e.g., Baseball players--Fiction).  That will work for sports, but won't always be appropriate, as you could have a baseball story that isn't about baseball players or other baseball personnel.   But as we saw with the case of lawyers, it won't work for legal fiction.  There's also a lot of inconsistency in UF references as to whether there is a variant from a class of persons.  Legal fiction has UF Lawyers--Fiction, but Medical fiction does not have a UF Physicians--Fiction or UF Medical personnel--Fiction.  Others have pointed out that a literary work that may have ghosts or a Christmas setting might not be considered a ghost or Christmas story, especially if that content is not the primary aspect of the fiction.  The cataloger might still want to bring out that aspect if it accounts for 20% or more of the work (per the SHM).

Ultimately, I think when LC implements LCGFT for literature they may be more inclined to deal with these kinds of structural problems in LCSH, although I'm surprised it hasn't been raised by their catalogers of moving image materials (but maybe they don't do much subject analysis of fiction films).  I understand why headings like Baseball stories and Dystopian plays are needed, since there are bibliographies and works of criticism about them, but the UFs in the records are very problematic and hopefully some day will be removed.  At such time I would hope that a scope note would be added to the headings that says that they may only be used as topical headings with appropriate subdivisions like $v Bibliography or $x History and criticism.  I do think that LC subject specialists would be in agreement that we need to get away from assigning form/genre headings from LCSH in field 650 unless the heading is truly the subject of the resource.  Put subjects in 650 and genre/form in 655.  If we do that, Baseball $v Fiction should be perfectly ok in 655, with Baseball stories from LCSH and/or Sports fiction from LCGFT in 655.

Adam Schiff
Principal Cataloger
University of Washington Libraries

From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Eduardo Fojo <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2020 2:50 PM
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: "Christmas stories" and similar subject headings
I'd like to be able to apply "Ghosts |v Drama" when cataloging DVDs/Blu-rays of films like "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" instead of having it default to "Ghost plays." The latter makes it hard to distinguish between movies and, well, plays as well as between plays about/featuring ghosts and works about plays about/featuring ghosts. If this flummoxes catalogers, I can imagine how patrons and non-cataloger librarians and library staff trying to help patrons find these materials must feel.

Eduardo Fojo
Media Cataloger Librarian, FIU Library
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Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2020 5:34 PM
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Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] "Christmas stories" and similar subject headings

Note: This message originated from outside the FIU Faculty/Staff email system.

I would LOVE to be able to apply Christmas Stories to a work *about* the specific genre of Christmas stories and Christmas—fiction to a novel where Christmas features prominently.




From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Adam L Schiff
Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2020 5:29 PM
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Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] "Christmas stories" and similar subject headings


Actually, LC policy would be to add the form heading for a collection of stories in a 650 field in addition to the 655.


650 _0  Baseball stories.

655 _7  Sports stories. $2 lcgft


The drama headings are even more problematic, because we use $v Drama for both plays and moving image works.  So if you try to assign


650 _0  Lawyers $v Drama


it gets turned into


650 _0  Legal drama.


But Legal drama is a term restricted to plays, so for a film you can't have a 650 at all with the concept.


I have suggested to LC in the past that they delete the UF references so that a cataloger could assign Lawyers $v Fiction or Lawyers $v Drama to an individual work and then add the appropriate LCGFT term in 655: Legal fiction (Literature), Legal drama (Literature), or Legal films or Legal television programs, but they have not wanted to make such a change.  And it would still leave the headings Legal fiction and Legal drama in LCSH to be used for works ABOUT those genres.  That might also be difficult for catalogers to apply, however, and could result in people including both Legal fiction and Lawyers--Fiction to a record.  Which might not be too terrible really.


Adam Schiff

Principal Cataloger

University of Washington Libraries

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Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2020 12:53 PM
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Subject: Re: "Christmas stories" and similar subject headings


H 1790 section 4 does put fairly strict limits on SH for individual works of fiction. (Only used for biographical and historical fiction, basically.) The “Special provisions” at the end of H 1790 still refer to GSAFD headings, so IMO the section needs updating.


But per H 1790 section 4, you still only use very specific 650s. So “650 Deer hunting – Fiction” is ok, but “Hunting—Fiction” is too general. 655s are generally fine. If I understand H 1790.


Mike Monaco (he/him)

Coordinator, Cataloging Services

261B Bierce Library

The University of Akron

Akron, Ohio 44325-1712

Office: 330-972-2446

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ORCID: 0000-0001-7244-5154


From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Wilson, Pete
Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2020 2:50 PM
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Subject: [PCCLIST] "Christmas stories" and similar subject headings


CAUTION: This email originated from outside of The University of Akron.



There are certain LCSH headings like “Christmas stories” and “Hunting stories” which have long worried me a bit.


These headings have the cross references “Christmas – Fiction” and “Hunting – Fiction.”  If you want to use a subject heading to say that a work is fiction about Christmas, you’re led through the cross reference to the 150 “Christmas stories.”  That’s used instead of the topic + form combination “Christmas – Fiction.”


Yet “Christmas stories” looks very like a form/genre heading.  And there’s already a perfectly good LCGFT heading, “Christmas fiction.”  So do you abandon your 650, instead using only a 655, “Christmas fiction?”


My guess is no.  Why should we not have a 650 to say that what we’re cataloging is about Christmas?  We routinely give topical headings, subdivided  by form, to works of fiction, and “Christmas stories” is the authority-mandated substitute here for the topical heading “Christmas” subdivided by form “fiction.”  I’m thinking that “Christmas stories” is perfectly acceptable as a 650 for a novel about Christmas.  (Not just for a collection of Christmas stories.  The novel would get the heading “Christmas – Fiction” were that not unacceptable, so it gets “Christmas stories.”)


Does this sound correct?


Pete Wilson

Vanderbilt University