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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

Cataloging Policies

General Cataloging Policy

The Pennsylvania State University Libraries' general cataloging policy is to catalog everything acquired by the selectors for addition to the Libraries' collections. Selectors are expected to exercise judgement in acquiring ephemeral materials. Cataloging Services may on occasion ask a selector to confirm his/her desire to add an item to the collections.

As appropriate, cataloging may take the form of a single record describing a group of items having something in common: a serial or series title, a common provenance, or a common subject. Given the resources required to create separate records, Cataloging Services may on occasion strongly recommend to a selector that such collective cataloging treatment be done.

Appropriate material -- material that is ephemeral or of narrow interest or intended for limited retention that might be placed in a "vertical file" or material intended for specific administrative use -- may be forwarded to the location on receipt without cataloging, at the request of the selector.

Material that will not be cataloged

For most collections, it is the Libraries' policy not to catalog parts of single items: chapters of books, articles from journals (either photocopies or offprints), issues of a serial that do not have their own distinctive titles, or articles clipped from newspapers. This policy is sometimes waived in the case of material in rare books, archives or other special collections when the material was acquired specifically because of the chapter, article, etc.

It is the Libraries' policy to acquire for its collections only legitimate authorized copies of materials. Photocopies of material covered by copyright must be accompanied by an indication that permission to make the copy has been obtained.

These policies apply to material received as gifts, as well as to material ordered by selectors.


Bibliographic Policy

Bibliographic description | Name headings | Subject headings | Call numbers

Bibliographic description

Since January 1981, original cataloging created at Penn State has followed the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, 2nd edition, (AACR2) as interpreted by the Library of Congress. The 1988 revision of the 2nd edition (amended in 1993) is currently being followed. The few variations adopted by PSU are available from Cataloging Services on request.

Records in The CAT (the Penn State database) cataloged before January 1981 reflect the cataloging rules in effect at the time. Cataloging Services does not update these earlier bibliographic descriptions unless recataloging the entire record for some other reason.

Most records in The CAT are created from records created by catalogers outside of Penn State. While these records are supposed to follow the cataloging rules in effect at the time they were created, Penn State staff do not verify these records beyond seeing that they match the item in hand and are essentially complete.

It is the Libraries' policy that the database contain only one bibliographic description of a given bibliographic item, regardless of the number of library locations holding the item. One effect of this policy is to erase the variations that used to exist on the card catalog records for the same item in various locations. For this reason, comparison of old catalog cards with the corresponding online record may reveal some variations, particularly for the campus libraries whose holdings have been appended to existing PSU bibliographic records. This is especially true for serial records.

Name headings

Since January 1981, Penn State has followed the AACR2 as implemented by the Library of Congress in determining the form under which each name is entered in the database. Penn State depends on the Library of Congress Authority File. Because headings on most records are not verified when they are added to The CAT, consistency of entry depends on following Library of Congress authority. The Libraries will not use headings that conflict with decisions made by the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress Authority File is dynamic, and headings do change. Although the Libraries do not verify all headings added to The CAT and update changed headings, we do update obsolete or conflicting headings when they come to our attention. Conflicting headings may be reported using the OOPS command.

Subject headings

PSU uses the Library of Congress Subject Headings list and follows LC practice. As with name headings, subject terminology also changes over time. The Libraries make a particular effort to update subject headings.

Call numbers

Penn State uses the Library of Congress classification schedules, and follows LC practice for the most part. There are some variations, particularly in the use of the literature schedules. In addition, PSU will vary from LC in order to maintain local precedents.

It is the Libraries' policy to allow varying call numbers for the same item housed in different locations, but not in the same location. Each campus library and each University Park branch library located outside of Pattee Library is considered a separate location.

The campus library call number for non-book material, classified in LC, and representing an item which is a reproduction of an original-e.g., hardcopy reproduced in a micro-format, or a sound disc reproduced locally (i.e., not commercially) in cassette-will include the physical format as the last line of the call number.

For example:




Exception: Serial microform titles generally use free format call numbers specifying format of material:

Call number: Microfilm
Call number: Microfiche
Class scheme: ASIS

Policies Regarding Types of Material

Computer files

It is PSU policy on the use of computer files for each campus location and UP to be responsible for making a backup copy of the computer file for use and to retain the original disk(s) as an archival copy.

Government documents

Government documents are routinely cataloged and classified in LC for the CCL locations. Some UP branch libraries also classify with LC; however, most U.S. depository documents at UP are classified and shelved by SuDocs numbers and assigned a special documents collection location code. Since 1986, currently received depository documents are being cataloged in The CAT.

Internet Resources

Items accessed remotely through the Internet are cataloged if the Libraries is paying for access and/or if a license agreement is required. Items available free of charge and not requiring a license agreement may be cataloged by special request. If an item is available in two or more formats, such as in print, or on a CD-ROM, the Internet version may be cataloged separately or may simply be noted on the record for the other format. These decisions are made on a case by case basis through consultation between the selector and the cataloger.

Loose-leaf publications

A loose-leaf publication is generally cataloged as an open entry monograph because the basic information is intended to be revised and replaced rather than added to. There are some exceptions to this when the title is judged to be a serial, such as when the intention of the publication is to add to the original information rather than revise certain data. Two examples of serial looseleafs are when the title is issued periodically and the text consists of numbered or dated issues to be filed chronologically in binders; and, when the title is issued periodically with a basic volume covering a particular period plus pages to be interfiled into that basic volume, such as 1989 plus pages; 1990, plus pages.


Maps are routinely cataloged and classified in LC for both CCL libraries and UP.


Microforms are routinely cataloged and classified in LC for the campus libraries. In the case of microform reproductions, the bibliographic description for the microform is added to the record for the original item. Microforms are also cataloged for UP but, for the most part, are shelved by locally assigned numbers rather than by LC call numbers.

Monographic series

Monographic series are items published with both distinctive, individual titles, and a series title that is the same on each issue. These publications may be cataloged as individual items with series added entries (i.e., analyzed) or cataloged as serials under the series title, or both. If the series is analyzed, the individual items may be classified separately or classified together under the same call number.

Some monographic series have been cataloged as serials for one location and as individual items for another location. However, cataloging policy states that a series must be treated the same way within a single location. An exception to this policy is made for duplicate copies of items within a series that has been cataloged as a serial. In this case the selector may request that the duplicate issue be cataloged individually.

Please note that past practice has resulted in some monographic series being cataloged exclusively as serials when cataloging for the individual items (analysis) may be desirable. No systematic attempt is being made to analyze these series retrospectively, but Cataloging Services will try to accommodate selectors' requests for treatment change on a case by case basis as special projects.

Non-book materials

Non-book materials include sound recordings, audio-visual materials such as slides, films and videorecordings, and computer files. All of these materials for campus libraries are fully cataloged and classified in LC. At UP, sound recordings are assigned accession number call numbers, some computer files and CD-ROMS are given free-format call numbers, while other non-book materials are classified in LC. Materials cataloged in LIAS for Audio-Visual Services are assigned free-format call numbers established by Audio-Visual Services.

Periodicals and Newspapers

A periodical is a continuing publication issued twice a year or more frequently. A newspaper is a type of periodical.

Treatment of periodical and newspaper titles varies. At UP, periodicals retained permanently are cataloged and assigned LC classification numbers; newspapers and periodicals not retained permanently are cataloged but not classified; and, periodicals and newspapers held in microform format are cataloged and classified with special UP microform collection classifications. CCL locations generally do not have periodical/newspaper titles classified except on request. The microform format generally uses free format call numbers such as Microform or Microfiche.


A serial is a continuing publication issued once a year or less frequently.

Serials, generally speaking, include non-monographic items issued under the same title, with consecutive numbering or dates, and are intended to be published indefinitely-e.g., annual reports, society transactions, yearbooks. Serials also include titles issued in frequent editions, such as directories or handbooks. All serial titles are cataloged and classified for both UP and CCL locations unless requested otherwise. CCL volumes are itemized with holdings and barcodes in the 090|c and holdings are listed in the 090|s to display to the public.


Maintenance Policies

Related links: CCL Manual | Maintenance Forms (including Call Number, Location Change, Label Request, and Withdrawal Forms and Maintenance Flier) | Oops Function | Withdrawal Procedure Database maintenance is done routinely. Most corrections and some updates are initiated by all system users via the online Maintenance Forms or the OOPS function. In addition, UP locations also make use of the Maintenance Flier while the CCL Label Request form is used by CCL locations.

CCL Label Requests

Cataloging provides, upon request from campus libraries, spine labels for added volumes and replacement labels for cataloged titles. The CCL Label Request form should NOT be used for uncataloged new titles requiring surrogate processing.

The CCL Label Request form also acts as notification of a change in holdings, in some instances, necessitating an update in a bibliographic record's holdings statement in The CAT. For this reason, CCL Label Requests require specific information beyond the request for labels alone.


Recataloging is most often the result of a change in the treatment of a bibliographic item (e.g., a monograph becomes a serial) and may be initiated by Cataloging Services or at the request of holding locations. CCL locations should use the Call Number Maintenance Form while UP locations should use the Maintenance Flier when initiating a request.

When a change is initiated at University Park, holding locations will be notified by Cataloging that there has been a change in the cataloging of a title (e.g., monograph to serial; recataloging done to resolve duplicate call numbers). UP items in need of recataloging will be recalled if re-marking is necessary; CCL locations will receive new labels for recatalogued items when the call number has been changed.


Because of cost factors, reclassification is kept to a minimum. Corrections are made when an improper classification is found to have been used and may be initiated by Cataloging Services or holding locations. CCL locations should use the Call Number Maintenance Form while UP locations should use the Maintenance Flier when initiating a request.

UP items found to be in need of reclassification by Cataloging will be recalled for remarking; CCL locations will receive new labels for reclassified items.

Cataloging uses the LC classification schedules. If there is more than one appropriate classification number for an item, Cataloging Services will use the one most likely to keep similar materials together, or the one requested by the holding location, when possible.


Cataloging Services routinely edits records on behalf of holding locations to reflect the transfer of materials from one library location to another. Most holding locations also have staff trained to edit records to reflect transfers of monographic items, but should only do so if no re-marking of items is required or if they can generate their own labels. If the holding or receiving location does not edit the records of transfer items, it is important that Cataloging be notified of the transfers so that the database can be kept accurate and current.

UP locations may notify Cataloging of transfers via the Location Change/Transfer Request Form if no re-marking is required, or send the transfer items to Cataloging with a Maintenance Flier if re-marking is required. CCL locations may notify Cataloging of transfers via the Location Change/Transfer Request Form, as well. Cataloging requires prior notice for large-scale transfers which require considerable staff time so that the transfers can be handled as a project.


Cataloging Services routinely edits bibliographic records on behalf of holding locations to reflect withdrawn items. Most holding locations also have staff trained to edit records for simple monographic withdrawals. Cataloging Services should be notified of ALL last copy withdrawals even though staff trained to perform maintenance activities may go ahead and change the Home Locations to WITHDRAWN and dispose of the items themselves. Statistics are no longer necessary. Notification of last copy withdrawals is necessary so that OCLC holdings deletions can be completed.

UP and CCL locations may notify Cataloging of last copy withdrawals via one of the online Withdrawal Request Forms. Optionally, locations may send either shelflist cards or a list of withdrawn titles. Cataloging requires prior notice of large-scale withdrawal projects so that staff time can be allotted.

It is not necessary to notify Cataloging of a withdrawal if it is not a last copy (the only remaining copy/volume of a title in the entire Libraries system). Libraries staff trained to do so may edit Home Locations to WITHDRAWN.

See the current Withdrawal Procedure.