Guidelines for Subject Analysis of Audiovisual Materials

These guidelines, intended for the use of librarians and administrators responsible for providing access to library materials, give direction for the subject analysis of audiovisual (hereafter abbreviated as AV) materials. For the purposes of this document, the term "AV" covers a wide variety of materials: e.g., moving image materials, kits, art works, realia, and some sound recordings. It excludes music sound recordings and scores, as well as computer software.

General Principles

Major considerations in providing subject access to library materials include the following:

  1. Uniform and consistent subject treatment for all materials in the library's collection, including AV materials, promotes ease of use and ready access to a broad range of resources.
  2. Adequate subject access is essential for all materials in the library's collection, and particularly for AV materials, which are not easily browsed.
  3. Adherence to standard subject analysis practice (both vocabulary and principles of application), for all library materials, including AV materials, is desirable in order to promote cooperative agreements and resource sharing.
  4. Classification should be extended to AV materials whether or not the library physically integrates such materials on the shelf. The assignment of classification numbers to AV materials provides for their integration in bibliographies, facilitates automated retrieval, allows for greater flexibility in physical arrangement, and encourages consistency in cataloging.

Striving toward adequate and consistent subject analysis of AV materials in a process like that for other items in the library's collection will both promote economy and efficiency in the cataloging workflow and keep AV materials in the mainstream of bibliographic control and information retrieval systems. We recommend that cataloging organizations implement the above general principles and adopt all of the following principles of application.

Principles of Application

  1. Topical headings should be applied to AV materials in the same way they are applied to print material.
  2. When appropriate, there should be subject access to both the implicit and the explicit topic. For example, a political cartoon may have pictures of an elephant and a donkey, as well as being about politics.
  3. Non-topical headings, such as genre (e.g., WESTERN FILMS), form (e.g., COMMERCIALS), and technique (e.g., ANIMATION), should be assigned as appropriate.
  4. When appropriate, provide subject access to the individual parts as well as to the whole for multipart items (e.g., items in a kit or set, films or tapes which include several works, collections of graphic materials).
  5. Because of certain characteristics common to AV materials, such as currency and specificity, standard subject authority files may lackappropriate terms. In such cases, the following options are available:
    1. follow established procedures for proposing new terms and/or scope notes for existing terms to agencies responsible for standard subject heading authority lists,
    2. create an appropriate term for local use,
    3. use the most appropriate existing term.