Policy on Classification of Feature Film Video Recordings


Feature film videos and musical film videos were often originally produced as motion pictures. Some films are screen adaptations of literary works, novels, plays, librettos and popular fiction, while some are screenplays written for the motion picture industry. Like printed literary works, feature films are also critically reviewed, in both print and nonprint medium.

Standard Policy

Most of the print materials in the collection which discuss the motion picture industry by topic or genre have been correctly classified in PN1995, particularly 1995.9. However, to classify feature films in PN1995.9 with a genre or subject Cutter would be in conflict with this standard that has effectively and historically been used for print materials.


    1. PN1995 Use to classify print/nonprint materials which are general/special including criticism, aesthetics, etc. about motion pictures.

    2. PN1995.2 - PN1995.5 Use to classify print/nonprint materials which are about motion pictures in relation to other disciplines: history, the arts, literature, ethics, etc.

    3. PN1995.6 Use to classify print/nonprint materials which address censorship in motion pictures.

    4. PN1995.7 Use to classify print/nonprint materials which are about or represent examples of pictures and sound. Use for early 20th century talking films.

    5. PN1995.75 Use for print/nonprint materials about silent films; use for the 19th or 20th century silent feature film itself, as well.

    6. PN1995.9.A1 A-Z Use for print/nonprint materials about motion pictures and special topics, nonfiction works on genre in film as well as ethnic and social groups, social topics, fictional characters, geographic locals, etc.
      1. For the first Cutter number assignment, see Cutter list under PN1995.9. If a topic is missing from the LC list and has no Cutter number, see a librarian for a Cutter assignment.
      2. The second Cutter number is for the main entry. See the LC cuttering table and check the OPAC shelflist for filing information.

If feature films were created primarily for entertainment purposes and are the product of a play written for the screen, classify under Drama, motion pictures PN1997. Also include all musical films (i.e., Singing in the Rain) and biographical feature films (i.e., Bird Man from Alcatraz). If the content of a video was originally released as a motion picture, add a 500 note with a date if known.

Example:   500     Originally release as a motion picutre in 1990. 


PN1997.A1 A-Z     Use for film collections such as a collection of short features by one or more directors and not based on an original creative literary work. Assign the second Cutter by main entry, A-Z.

PN1997.A2-Z8     Use for individual motion pictures and assign the first Cutter number for title A2-Z8.

Example:   PN1997.N47 for The Net

    An extension to the first Cutter is assigned if the film or work is a criticism/critique of the original work/motion picture. The root Cutter for title is the same, then extend with the number 3 for a criticism. Then assign a second Cutter for the author of the critical work.

    Example:   PN1997.N473 R34 for a critique of The Net by Rex Reed

    NOTE:  If the original film has a foreign title and is known, cutter by original title, not the translated title.

PN1997.5     Use for children's videos (cartoons, sing-alongs, Sesame Street, etc.), animation, and computer animation. All animation classed here should be the art form itself, not "how to" videos or videos about animation techniques.

PN1997.85     Use for film adaptations of original works of fiction such as works of literature or creative works of fiction such as short stories, novels, poetry, and plays (for example, works by Tennesse Williams or John Grisham). A 500 note will state the work upon which the film is based.

The two exceptions are juvenile works and works by William Shakespeare.

    Film adaptions of Shakespeare's works are classed by the individual work from PR Schedule.     PR28xx .A23 A-Z (for director) Date

    Example: A video adaption of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Baz Luhrmann is classed PR2831 .A23 L84 1997

    Adaptions of children's books are classed by the author/title of the original work in the PZ section.
    For example: An animated adaption of A Bridge to Terabithia is classed PZ7.P273 Br YEAR

    Adaptations of children's books by a single author with a single title are classed as PZ7.
    First cutter by author
    Second cutter by first significant word

    For example:  The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
    PZ7.V266 Po 1988

    Adaptations for children's titles by a single author with multiple titles are classed as PZ7.
    First cutter by author
    Second cutter by first title

    For example: The Adventures of Curious George by A.H. Rey
    PZ7.R33 Cur 2008

    Adaptations of collected children's titles by multiple authors for multiple works are classed as PZ5.
    First cutter by title main entry
    No secondary cutter

    For example: Good Night Gorilla...and more bedtime stories
    PZ5 .G66 2002



Other Versions

When an item fits more than one category (e.g., an animated adaptation of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman), the following hierarchy determines the classification. Use the class scheme for the first descriptor that applies:


    Children's film (class in PZ by author/title of original work)
    Silent film
    Feature For example: A silent film, titled Odyssey, based on Homer's The Odyssey is classed as a silent film. PN1995.75.O39 YEAR BUT

    Dangerous Minds based on LouAnne Johnson's My Posse Don't Do Homework is classed as an adaptation. PN1997.85.D36 YEAR




LCSH for Film Genre

Currently, subject analysis is not performed on literary works of art in print. Therefore, no subject analysis is recommended for works in feature films. Topical subject headings for biographical or historical films are acceptable. Use LCSH terms for all works. Assignment of genre subject headings should be considered if they are clearly documented in the summary notes. The following LCSH genre terms are appropriate to include in OPAC records for videorecordings:


    Animated films Motion pictures, [nationality]
    Biographical films Musical films
    Computer animation Musicals
    Documentary films Newsreels
    Feature films Operas
    Film adaptations Short films
    Films for the hearing impaired Silent films
    Foreign films |z Country of origin Video recordings for the hearing impaired
    Motion picture serials

This is a basic working list; a more comprehensive list can be found in LCSH under Motion pictures, NT (narrower terms).

Sometimes highly popular film series have their own terms in LCSH, such as: Star Wars films LCSH terms can also be found for films about a particular popular character or type of character, such as:

James Bond films
Sherlock Holmes films
Vampire films

Documentary films and nonfiction accounts of people, places, or events are classified by subject area to reflect the topic.


Bib Services AcquisitionsCatalogingAuthority Control Serials