This paper presents an evaluation of the ways in which three different groups of readers (recordkeepers, teachers and secondary school students) categorise documents. This is used to show how they understand documents, documentary forms and genre. Drawing on a card sorting activity conducted around a set of cards of documents related to The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, the paper discusses the significance of familiar categories as cultural markers (closely linked to particular rhetorical genres). It considers the impact of domain knowledge on the process of sorting and naming of categories, and compares the approaches taken by participants with those of library catalogues. It finds that there is no single, consistent approach to categorising the cards, with different literary genres, rhetorical genres, reasons for using, format, accessibility, and form all affecting the final categories each participant developed.

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