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Penn State University Libraries


Cataloging and Metadata Services
126 Paterno Library
University Park, PA 16802-1808

Staff Directory

Phone: (814) 865-1755
Fax: (814) 863-7293

General Information


I. Scope and Breadth

Record Creation contains processing guidelines, cataloging procedures and policies for copy cataloging. The information in Record Creation applies to monograph copy cataloging for all languages.

General instructions given in Record Creation apply to complex processing (sets and conferences) and special processing such as on-demand reproductions. Specific guidelines, exceptions and special procedures are given in special processing routines.

Do not apply the field-by-field guidelines in Record Creation to Rare Book processing.

The term ORF (i.e. Order Request Form) is used in this document as a generic term referring to ORF, MOF, CRC, Yellow Slip, Approval Plan Slip, etc.

Other sources of information:

Bibliographic Processing Cataloging Rules

OCLC Bibliographic Formats & Standards


II. Workflow

  • Select materials, reviewing each item to ensure it does not belong to a specialized workflow.
  • Examine the Flier(s)/ORF or any accompanying printouts for special processing instructions.
  • Search databases for exact or near copy. Begin your search in The CAT. An external database to search is OCLC.
  • Apply Match Criteria when copy is found. Make sure to check for series.
  • Process the item according to the procedures outlined in this document.
  • Record statistics.

III. Cataloging Rules

Cataloging databases such as OCLC contain records created according to several different cataloging rules. Although our policy is to accept copy based on any rules (see B. Policy on Accepting Copy below), there are some specific instructions that will differ based on the rules reflected in the record. Therefore, it is important to know which rules were used in creating the record you are using.

The current code – RDA: Resource Description and Access – was implemented in 2013. Prior to 2013, cataloging was based on Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd edition (AACR2). Cataloging databases such as OCLC include a mix of records created according to RDA, AACR2, and even earlier rules, as well as “hybrid” records that include fields based on different rules.


A. Identifying the Rules Used in a Record

Records created according to RDA are identified by the presence of “|erda” in field 040. This subfield will usually appear after subfields |a and |b (if present) and before subfield |c. RDA records will have either code “i" or “c” in the “Desc” (i.e., Descriptive Cataloging Form) fixed field.

Records created according to AACR2 are identified by code “a” in the “Desc” fixed field. Records created according to earlier rules are identified by code “#” [blank] in the “Desc” fixed field. 


B. Policy on Accepting Copy

Penn State accepts copy based on any cataloging rules, so long as the record meets the criteria for a match or near match (see Detailed Instructions on Accepting Copy and Match Criteria). Differences resulting from changes in cataloging rules do not justify a new record.

Field-by-Field Guidelines provide instructions on accepting or modifying particular fields in copy. In general, these instructions apply to all records, no matter what rules they are based on. Occasionally, there will be separate instructions for modifying RDA copy and for modifying AACR2 copy. These instructions are clearly labelled. Many sections for particular fields also include examples illustrating the differences between RDA and AACR2 rules.

When the instructions below call for adding a field to a record or modifying an existing field in a record, consult the BP Cataloging Rules for specific instructions.

Note that there are a few differences in the fields used by RDA and AACR2. Two main differences are:

  1. RDA uses three fields – 336 (Content Type), 337 (Media Type), and 338 (Carrier Type) – to indicate the format of the material being described. AACR2 uses the General Material Designation – 245 subfield |h – a single term indicating the format. Note that these fields may also appear in AACR2 records.

  2. RDA uses field 264 for production, publication, distribution, manufacture and copyright information, where AACR2 uses field 260 for publication, distribution, etc., information. There are RDA records that use field 260, and some AACR2 records with field 264.

IV. Detailed Instructions on Accepting Copy

Definitions and brief processing notes are included for each type of copy: full, incomplete, near, and minimum level.

See Encoding Level definitions for more detailed descriptions of various levels of copy in each category.


A. Exact Match Copy

The information in the record accurately describes the item in hand. (See also Match Criteria and Field-by-Field Guidelines.)

  1. Full Copy

    RDA, AACR2 or Pre-AACR2 copy from a U.S. source with an LC classification and subject heading(s). Foreign copy with English subject headings and a usable call number may also be used. See Foreign Copy Policy. (NOTE: Subject headings are not required for literary works.)

    In addition to full level CAT and LC MARC records, consider the following full copy:

    LC CIP

    OCLC Enc lvl: [blank], 1, I, L, 4, sometimes 8 or M

    Foreign copy with subject headings in English and a usable 050/090

    Encoding Level definitions

    In general, accept copy as found. Do not update Pre-AACR2 records to conform to AACR2 standards, or AACR2 records to conform to RDA standards. Correct obvious errors (i.e., typos, incorrect indicators, etc.). Make referrals as necessary. Accept RDA records (field 040 will identify a record as RDA).

    Full Level CAT Record

    Added Location
    When the item is going to a new location, add the location and any local notes that apply to the new volume, such as accompanying material that is lacking. No further processing is necessary.

    Same Location: Duplicate/Replacement
    When the Flier/ORF and the record contain the same UP Home Location, check the Flier/ORF for the instruction, "OK to dup for [location]" or for replacement instructions. Add as a second copy if so instructed. Process replacements as per current replacement guidelines.

    If this information does not appear on the Flier/ORF, check with an Acquisitions staff member on the appropriate action to take.

    Duplicate locations for CCL items are added without question. Duplicate surrogates, however, must be investigated. When the Surrogate/CRC form does not include "Okay to duplicate," contact library staff at the campus in question for instruction.

    See also Handling of Duplicate Items.

  2. Incomplete Copy

    RDA, AACR2 or Pre-AACR2 copy lacking either LC classification or subject headings. See Foreign Copy Policy.

    Consider the following incomplete copy:

    OCLC Enc lvl: 2, sometimes 7, 8 or M, K


    Foreign copy: English subject headings present but lacking a call number

    See also Encoding Level definitions.

  3. Unacceptable Copy

    Copy which lacks both LC classification and subject headings.

    Consider the following unacceptable:

    LC MLC

    LC In Process (MIP)

    OCLC Enc lvl: 3, 5, sometimes 7 or K

    Continue to search for matching or near copy. If none is found, refer.

    CAT MLP and MLC

    Continue to search for copy. If none is found, refer.

    Foreign copy lacking a call number and subject headings in English (See Foreign Copy Policy).


B. Near Copy

Near copy describes a different version of the item in hand. In general, items with Near Copy only should be referred to an original cataloger.

The six categories of near copy are described below.

  1. Revised Editions

    The informational content has been revised, rewritten, updated, or changed in some manner.

    Item in hand: 2nd ed.

    Available copy: 1st ed.

  2. Editions Published by Different Publishers

    The publishers vary, but the informational content remains unchanged.

    The most common example of this is a simultaneous publication.

    Available copy: London, Gale Research International

    Item in hand: Detroit, Gale Research

  3. Reprint and Facsimile Editions

    Reprint and facsimile editions are made for out of print publications which have been copied and published by a reprint publisher. This category includes newly published items that are close reproductions of the original in terms of paper, binding, print, etc.

    Do not confuse with on-demand reproductions.

  4. Original and Translated Editions

    Copy is for an item in a different language from that of the item in hand.

  5. Editions Produced in Different Physical Forms

    The same informational content issued in different physical formats (e.g., microform version of paper copy).

  6. On-Demand Reproductions

    Items reproduced either commercially or non-commercially at the request of an individual or corporation. The original may be paper, microform, etc. Unlike an edition, these are not mass produced. Also see Reproductions.


C. Foreign Copy Policy (National Library Cataloging other than LC)

Accept foreign national copy (i.e., Canadian, UKM, Australian, New Zealand and other English language foreign MARC copy) when it is the only copy available and refer it for call numbers and/or subjects when they are missing, as usual. The original cataloger who assigns the call number and/or subjects has the option to do the authority work for the name headings or to let them be taken care of by the Authority Control vendor.

If a call number and subjects in English are present, foreign copy may be used without referring. Headings will be checked by the Authority Control vendor.

Note: ANY national library cataloging that has been updated by a member library (look for library identifier in 040 field) is accepted as copy if it meets other criteria.