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Electronic Serials Resources Field-by-Field Processing Guidelines

Penn State has decided provisionally to use AACR2 and MARC to catalog electronic resources in The Cat. Electronic resources are covered by Chapters 9 (Electronic Resources) and 12 (Continuing Resources) of AACR2, both of which are in a state of being revised. These guidelines follow as closely as possible the spirit of the rules as currently formulated. See also Glossary of Terms.

Field-by-Field Guidelines


Chief Source of Information

The chief source of information for electronic resources is the resource itself. Practically speaking, apply the following guidelines:

  1. Prefer the homepage as the chief source of information.
  2. In the absence of an easily distinguishable homepage, prefer the page with the most complete information about the resource.
  3. As needed to describe the item, consider also any metadata supplied in the tags of the HTML source code of the homepage. (For titles, consider also the title in the Title field of the HTML source code.)
  4. If there is a conflict between the information in these sources, prefer the textual material on the homepage itself to any information imbedded in the HTML source code.
  5. In seeking information lacking from the homepage, source code, and metadata, follow only those links that appear directly on the homepage; i.e., do only a 'first-level' search of the resource to find additional information. For reasons of efficiency, extensive investigation of lower or upper levels of the resource is discouraged.


For the nonce, use "computer file 2" (cf2) or "computer file serial 2" (cfs2) as the forms for remotely accessible electronic resources. (In the future, it is likely that form used will be dependent on the form of the item [e.g., serial] rather than on its electronic nature.)


Call Number

Do not classify electronic resources; instead, use the free form call number Electronic journal or Electronic resource and location Online. (In the future, it is possible that a more extensive list of free format call numbers will be established, e.g. Electronic map; PSU may also decide to opt for LC classification if it is deemed of sufficient usefulness to justify the added cataloging time involved.)

Example: Electronic resource


Record ISSNs as they appear on the electronic version. If the ISSN used for the electronic version is the same as that used for the print, record it in a |y.

Example: 022 |y1040-8021

Note: When adding electronic "holdings" to an existent record for the print version, if each version has its own ISSN, record them in separate 022s:

Example: 022 1040-3020
022 1621-5343


Transcribe as main entries only those persons or corporate bodies who can reasonably be said to be chiefly responsible for the intellectual (as opposed to the visual or technological) content of the resource. In deciding whether a person or corporate body merits main entry, apply the guidelines given in Chapter 21 of AACR2 (see below). Be aware that in the Web environment, there are a number of persons and entities normally associated with an item (webmaster, site designer, Internet Service Provider, etc.) that usually do not merit treatment as main (or even added) entries. In general, do not give added entries for webmasters, site designers, or Internet Service Providers unless there is compelling evidence that these persons or entities are bear significant responsibility for the intellectual content of the resource.

Enter a work emanating from one or more corporate bodies under the heading for the appropriate corporate body (see 21.4B, 21.5B) if it falls into one or more of the following categories:

  1. those of an administrative nature dealing with the corporate body itself
    or, its internal policies, procedures, finances, and/or operations
    or, its officers, staff, and/or membership (e.g., directories)
    or, its resources (e.g., catalogues, inventories)
  2. some legal, governmental, and religious works of the following types:
    • laws (see 21.31)
    • decrees of the chief executive that have the force of law (see 21.31)
    • administrative regulations (see 21.32)
    • constitutions (see 21.33)
    • court rules (see 21.34)
    • treaties, etc. (see 21.35)
    • court decisions (see 21.36)
    • legislative hearings
    • religious laws (e.g., canon law)
    • liturgical works (see 21.39)
  3. those that record the collective thought of the body (e.g., reports of commissions, committees, etc.; official statements of position on external policies)
  4. those that report the collective activity of a conference (e.g., proceedings, collected papers), of an expedition (e.g., results of exploration, investigation), or of an event (e.g., an exhibition, fair, festival) falling within the definition of a corporate body (see 21.1B1), provided that the conference, expedition, or event is prominently named (see 0.8) in the item being catalogued
  5. those that result from the collective activity of a performing group as a whole where the responsibility of the group goes beyond that of mere performance, execution, etc. Publications resulting from such activity include sound recordings, films, videorecordings, and written records of performances. (For corporate bodies that function solely as performers on sound recordings, see 21.23.)
  6. cartographic materials emanating from a corporate body other than a body that is merely responsible for their publication or distribution.

In case of doubt about whether a work falls into one or more of these categories, treat it as if it does not.



If the title used in the 245 is the same as that of another publication (often a different format edition), use a uniform title to distinguish between them. Construct the uniform title using the guidelines outlined in the Conser Cataloging Manual, Part I, Module 5 and in LCRI 25.5B.

Example: 130 Vanity Fair (New York, N.Y. : Online)


In transcribing the title, follow the guidelines for chief source of information given above. Select the title that figures most prominently in the resource; failing this, select the title that is used most consistently in the resource. If there is more than one title, add a 246 field for each distinctive variant. Always give the source of the title proper in a note. (For definitions of terms used in source of title notes for Internet resources, see the glossary.)

Title on homepage: Penn State University Department of Women's Studies Homepage Title in META tag of resource: PSU Women's Studies Home Page In Record: 245 00 |aPenn State University Department of Women's Studies homepage 246 1  |iTitle from META tag:|aPSU Women's Studies home page 500    Title from Web page (viewed on May 29, 1999)

When the title for the resource changes and the former title is no longer formally presented anywhere on the site, record the current title in the 245 and use the 246 (rather than 780) to record the previous title.

Example: 245 00 Associations unlimited
246 1  |iFormerly known as:|aEncyclopedia of associations online


Transcribe edition statements as found on the item. Edition statements for remote access electronic resources are relatively rare. Treat statements indicating regular revision or frequent updating (e.g., Rev. ed. issued every 6 months) as frequency rather than edition statements. Give this information in a note (see AACR2, proposed revisions 12.7B1).



Do not routinely add 256 fields; instead, record type and extent of items in a note only when such information is deemed relevant (e.g. a 20MB image file whose size will affect download times).



The concept of publisher is more problematic for electronic resources than it is for print items. A publisher may be personal or institutional in nature. An institutional name should be transcribed in the 260 field when an organizational affiliation is stated or strongly implied on the main page of the resource. In this case, the publisher is the primary entity that has provided the technology for making the resource available, and with which the resource's author may have some organizational affiliation. For resources in which an explicit publisher statement is lacking, or where there is no clear affiliation between the author and an organization, consider the author of the resource (i.e., the person or corporate entity given in the 1XX field) to be the publisher of the resource. In other words, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, consider electronic resources to be self-published. Do not transcribe names of commercial Internet Service Providers (such as AOL, Earthlink, or Mindspring) as publishers except in the unlikely event that the resource being cataloged is about the ISP or is otherwise related to the ISP in terms of content. In cases in which the publisher is an organization (e.g., a professional association or society), the organization's name may optionally be given access in a 7XX field. Again, apply rules in Chapter 21 of AACR2 for determining access points.

260|a: Give the place of publication if it is present on the resource (cf. AACR2 1.4C for instructions). Use S.l. as needed.

260|b: Give the name of the publisher as listed on the resource, keeping in mind the guidelines above.

260|c: In serials cataloging, the 260|c is used to record the year in which a work is made available to the public. Unless there is clear evidence on the site indicating when it first became available, omit the 260|c.



Do not give a physical description for electronic resources that are available only by remote access.



Record the frequency of updates to an integrating resource unless it is unknown. Also record changes in frequency.

  • 310 Monthly
  • 310 Updated quarterly
  • 310 Continuously updated


Use the 362 to record coverage of full text issues only; do not include issues for which there are only tables of contents and/or abstracts. Use the formatted style of 362 only when certain that earlier issues will not be made available at a later time.

Example: 362 0 Vol. 1, no. 1 (Mar. 1991)-

Use an unformatted 362 when holdings are incomplete (and therefore subject to change).

Example: 362 1 Coverage as of Dec. 22, 1998: Vol. 11, no. 1 (1997)-

Generally speaking, transcribe collective titles as series only when the resource itself implies the title is considered a series by the author or publisher; or when there is information from other sources (LCAF, OCLC) that implies same; or when a precedent has been set in the Cat for treated items bearing that title as belonging to a series. In all other cases, add the collective title in a 730 or 740 field as an added title entry.

  • 730 0 English emblem book project
  • not 440 0 English emblem book project


Use the date the site was viewed to describe the source of cataloging. Include the source of the title in the same note.

Example: 500 Description based on site as viewed on: May 9, 1999; title from home page.

Make additional notes, as deemed relevant, for subtitles, statements of responsibility, edition-like and publishing history statements, information on the type and extent of the resource or other information not recorded elsewhere. (cf. CCM and AACR2, chapter 12 for further instructions.)

500 "The official journal of the American Mathematics Society."
500 Available as part of: NewsLibrary.
500 Image files are 20 MB each.


Use 520 to provide a summary of the resource. If available, use information provided on the site, in the publisher's online catalog, or a description that the selector wrote for the Fast Track. If none of these can be found, try to formulate a succinct summary of the resource's contents.


Summary Note
Tag Ind. Contents
520    Includes bibliographies, biographical materials, critical studies of Nabokov's Russian and American works, image files, a listing of Nabokov's lepidopterological discoveries, and more.


If information is readily available and considered relevant, formulate an audience note, especially for juvenile materials.

Example: 521 For children ages 7-14.


When adding electronic "holdings" to an existent record for the print version of a resource, include one of the following, depending on whether the online version reproduces all or only portions of the print version. (When only portions of a print resource are available online, or when the online version includes materials not included in the print version, use judgment in deciding when to add holdings to an existent record for the print resource and when to create a new record for the online version.) Include access restrictions if necessary.

Restricted access, all issues available:
Tag Ind. Contents
Restricted access, some issues available:
Tag Ind. Contents
Restricted access, issues available from two or more sites:
Tag Ind. Contents
or if coverage is distinctly different (note: 550 not necessary in this case):
Tag Ind. Contents
All issues freely available online:
Tag Ind. Contents
530    Also available online:
Selections freely available online:
Tag Ind. Contents
530    Some issues also available online:
530    Current issues also available online:
530    Selected statistics available via the BJS web site:

When adding holdings to an existent record for a print edition, also add, in addition to the 530 field, a 550, 710 (for the organization named in the 550), and a 740, if the title of the online edition differs from the title of the print edition. See the guidelines for each of these fields below for more information.



Because the 856 does not display in the telnet version of LIAS, use the 538 field to record the URL of the resource being cataloged. Note that this duplicates the URL as found in the 856 field, with a few exceptions relating to special characters (see guidelines for the 856 field below). This practice can be discontinued once the migration to Unicorn is complete.

System Details Note
Tag Ind. Contents
538    Internet address:

A separate 538 field can be used to record system requirements for remotely accessible resources when these requirements are unusual or may be of special interest to the user. Use judgment in applying this rule. Example:

System Details Note
Tag Ind. Contents
538    Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader for viewing of PDF files and Micromedia Flash for viewing animations.


Give the languages and/or scripts of the resource unless this is apparent from the rest of the description. Include encoding information when relevant.


Language Note
Tag Ind. Contents
546    In Russian, KOI-8 or Win1251 encoding.


When adding electronic "holdings" to an existent record for the print version of a resource, include a 550 with the name of the organization that has made the digital version available. If the organization is simply a commercial publisher, do not include a 550.


Issuing Body of Digital Version
Tag Ind. Contents
550    Digitized and made available by Penn State University Libraries.
710 2# Pennsylvania State University.|bLibraries.


Record access restrictions in a 590.

Example: 590 Available to authorized PSU users.


When adding electronic "holdings" to an existent record for the print version of a resource, add a 710 for the name of the corporate body given in field 550. See guidelines for 550 above.)


Corporate Name Added Entry for Issuing Body
Tag Ind. Contents
550    Digitized and made available by Penn State University Libraries.
710 2# Pennsylvania State University.|bLibraries.


When analyzing titles within a cataloged resource, use a 730 to collate the analytic titles.

Record for aggregator:
Tag Ind. Contents
245 00 NewsLibrary.


Record for analytic:
Tag Ind. Contents
245 00 Lancaster Newspapers, Inc.
500   Available as part of: NewsLibrary.
730   NewsLibrary.


Use in conjunction with 530 to describe and provide access for other format editions.


Additional Physical Form Entry
Tag Ind. Contents
530    Online searchable database version of the print publication.
776 1# |tEncyclopedia of associations.


If a major change occurs in the title of an electronic serial (see CCM guidelines for definition of title change), make a new entry for each title, unless the earlier title is no longer formally presented on any source (in this case, use 246 to record earlier title).

When the corresponding print edition undergoes a title change, but the online version doesn't, add two 776s to the record for the online version.

Example: Print titles: Wichita eagle-beacon (1981-1989) and Wichita eagle (1989-) Online title: Wichita eagle (1984-)
Additional Physical Form Entries Indicating a Title Change
Tag Ind. Contents
130    Wichita eagle (Online)
245 00 Wichita eagle.
362 1# Coverage as of Dec. 6, 2000: 1984-
530    Online version of the print publication: Wichita eagle, earlier called: Wichita eagle-beacon.
776 1# |tWichita eagle-beacon,|g-Sept. 2, 1989
776 1# |tWichita eagle,|gSept. 3, 1989-

If we acquire the print edition after we have cataloged the online edition (and it is appropriate to add electronic holdings to the record for print), delete the record for the online ed. and add the electronic holdings to the record for the print ed.

When adding electronic holdings to extant record(s) for print version and title changes occur, add links and notes to all records for print titles that have corresponding issues available online.



Include the URL for the resource being cataloged. (Use indicators 40 when cataloging the resource itself and indicators 41 when adding electronic holdings to a record for the print version of the resource.)

Electronic Location/Access
Tag Ind. Contents
856 |zAddress for accessing the journal using authorization number and password through OCLC FirstSearch Electronic Collections Online. Subscription to online journal required for access to abstracts and full text
  • If 856 with indicator 7 is found on copy, change the indicators to 40 and delete the $2. (To delete $2, you have to put a space between '856' and '2' in the command line: 856 2/d/ ).
  • Watch for _ (underscore) and ~ (tilde) in URLs. These characters are not valid in USMARC: _ (underscore) must be changed to: %5F in the 856; ~ (tilde) must be changed to: %7E in the 856. However, DO use the characters _ and ~ (not the MARC special characters %5F, %7E) in the 530/538. The 856 has been programmed to read the special characters %5F and %7E as _ and ~, but the 530/538 fields have not.