J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, AB(Magna cum laude), MA, MA(CLT), MSLS
Director Special Libraries Cataloguing, Inc., Victoria, British Columbia
Published Cataloging & Classification Quarterly Vol. 29(4) 2000
In October of 1999 there was a discussion on Autocat (an e-list for
cataloguers) of the advantages and disadvantages of classifying Internet
resources catalogued locally, which grew to include a discussion of
cataloguing electronic resources generally.
This article reviews the background of applying bibliographic description
techniques to electronic resources, and summarizes the Autocat discussion.
While some librarians see classification as primarily a method of assigning
a shelf location for a physical item, many others see classification as a
valid subject approach for all the materials in the collection, or
available to the library's patrons through the library catalogue.
KEYWORDS: Classification, Cataloguing, Electronic resources, Internet,
Bibliographic Description Techniques Applied to Nonbook Materials
For over a century librarians have been developing a method for
describing books in libraries. There is a clear line of development from
Italian born Anthony Panizzi, chief librarian of the British Museum from
1856, to the development of the ISBD (International Standard Bibliographic
Description) by IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations),
and its adoption in Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, second edition,
For most of that period, library collections consisted primarily of
books. When, as a Canadian representative to the Steering Committee of the
IFLA Section on Cataloguing, I first suggested the need for an ISBD for
nonbook materials (just after the adoption of the ISBD for monographs),
several European librarians indicated that a nonbook ISBD would be of
little utility, since library collections contained so few nonbook items.
Today, some library collections are more than one third nonbook it has been
reported on Autocat, an electronic discussion list presided over so ably by
co-list owner Judith Hopkins.
A few of us can remember when microforms first began to form an
important part of our collections. More can remember when sound and video
recordings become common in libraries. Most can remember when CD-ROMs were
first commonly acquired by their libraries. Now many libraries are
beginning to include remote electronic resources in their catalogues.
With the advent of OPACs (online public access catalogues), not only are
new functions available (learning whether a book is on loan, placing a
reserve), but through an active url (universal resource locator, an
Internet address), the catalogue terminal may be used as a reading device
for Internet resources.
The practices used to describe book materials transferred without too
much difficulty to most of these new formats. The introduction of the
general material designation (gmd) following title proper (with "text"
being optional for the traditional book) made it clear what was being
described. The inclusion of new ISBD areas in MARC (machine readable
cataloguing) has been more problematic. The single ISBD area for media
specific information between edition and imprint has been given multiple
MARC field tags, so that numbers between 250 (edition) and 260 (imprint)
will soon be exhausted as nonbook forms proliferate. Ignoring the fact
that many systems can only display notes in MARC tag order, the assigning
of MARC field tags to new types of notes, many of them associated with
nonbook materials, is being done with no attempt to follow prescribed note
order (unlike the original MARC tags which adhered to unit card, later
ISBD, order). The standard description began to break down even more with
the inclusion of Internet resources. With no physical item actually in the
library, the collation (MARC field 300) was omitted. The fact that the
special material designation (smd) as part of the collation was important
to more narrowly define the gmd was ignored. The opportunity to further
define "[computer file]" as "remote Internet database", or "website", or
some other specific designation was not taken, leaving many patrons
confused about what was being described.
In North America it has been the general practice to classify books, and
then to add to that classification number (sometimes including a subject
Cutter) a main entry Cutter or work mark which creates a unique identifier
for the work, the result being known as the call number. Initially a year
was added to distinguish later editions, but subsequently most libraries
using LCC (Library of Congress Classification) began adding a year to all
monographic call numbers, as libraries using NLM (National Library of
Medicine Classification) had done earlier. (Many smaller libraries using
DDC - Dewey Decimal Classification - add letter workmarks rather than
Cutters, and do not have unique call numbers.) The term "call number"
dates from the time when patrons noted the number from the catalogue,
presented it at a circulation desk, and the book was fetched for them. Now
that most libraries have their stacks open to the public, patrons will
often note only one or more classification number from the catalogue, and
in fact use a classed approach to finding material by consulting the
shelves. This always had the limitation of their not finding material in
special collections such as reference, or in circulation. Now it has the
added disadvantage of patrons not finding nonbook materials usually shelved
separately, and particularly remote Internet resources. (No one seems to
have suggested the old solution of a block of wood on the shelf with a
Practice has varied in whether material not being shelved with books is
assigned a call number and "shelflisted", that is, being fitted into the
classed file of the collection. The terms "classification number" (a
subject number, sometimes including a subject Cutter, assigned from a
schedule), and "call number" (the classification number plus Cutter or
work mark and usually year), are often wrongly used interchangeably. This
has led to "call number searching" being used when actually "classed
searching" is meant, even in OPAC index names.
Libraries have reported in Autocat discussion that only from 1% to 3% of
their OPAC searches are classed searches. Libraries have not done
extensive instruction in classed searching, nor created easily browsable
indexed classed files with an appropriately labeled search key. They have
tended not to see shelf browsing as classed searching, nor to be concerned
with the materials not found using that method.
Autocat Discussion of Classifying Internet Resources: Pro
In October of 1999 there occurred a discussion of the classification and
cataloguing of Internet resources on Autocat. There was a fairly clear
division between those who saw classification as call number assignment,
and felt no need of it for material not physically present in the
collection, and those who saw classification as a means of subject
organization. The latter saw classification as important for all library
materials, placing material in a systematic array, with mammals from
Aardvarks to Zebras together, as opposed to being scattered alphabetically.
The gauntlet was thrown down by Julie Moore Crowley of Stetson
University School of Law, October 14th, 1999.*
"At Stetson Law, I currently treat Internet titles accordingly:
" MARC 090: LC Call no.
" Location: Internet
"I must admit that I am surprised by all of the responses saying that they
are dropping the classification of Internet records. If the Internet
records are not classified, then the patron/librarians will never run
across those titles in a browse by call number. This completely
compromises that avenue of access!"
Some quickly responded in support of Julie's position (we tend to use
first names on Autocat).
Gene Kinnaly, a cataloguer at LC (Library of Congress) reported on LC
practice (in a message identified as not an official statement of LC).
(Gene, along with Aaron Kuperman, law cataloguer, have both helped give a
human face to LC though such frank and informative messages on Autocat.)
"LC practice is to assign an LC classification number to the
Internet resources we catalog. We don't shelflist Internet
resources, since we don't have a physical item sitting in our
collections under that call number. I think complete call
numbers - classification number and 'book' number - for Internet
resources are confusing for that very reason.
"But I think classification is useful. Now that we have a system
(LC ILS) in which records can be retrieved, sorted, and displayed
by call number, all our records which have at least a
classification number are included in that display.
"By assigning classification numbers to materials accessible via
your online catalog but not physically housed in your stacks
(Internet resources), and if your OPAC allows browsing by call
number, then the patron can 'browse' not only the materials you
have in your collection but also those Internet resources on the
same or closely-related subject. Since this same patron can
access the Internet resource through the link provided in the bib
record, having this record show up in a call number search is a
method by which we can provide greater access to information."
Tim Knight, Systems Cataloguer, Great Library. The Law Society of Upper
Canada, also drew a parallel between shelf browsing and classed searching.
"Do library users associate a 'Call number' search with browsing the
shelves? As librarians we naturally make this connection. One library
site I saw recently (can't remember which) actually labeled their Call
number search something like 'Browse the Shelves'. Perhaps helping users
make this connection would raise searches above the 1.5% cited earlier and
encourage users to browse at the terminal rather than running off to the
"Classification browsing in the online catalogue is also the only way that
users can bring together all of the various formats now available in our
libraries, i.e. books, CD-ROMs, CDs, cassette tapes, video tapes, etc.
Because these formats are usually placed in different locations in the
library browsing them all on the shelf at once is not physically possible.
How often do users miss relevant information in other formats because they
only browse in one location?
"So now add in Internet resources. Yes, these are not physically in the
library, but they are considered important enough that we want to alert
users and provide access to them. The OPAC offers the ability to browse
all of these resources along with our physically available material
together on 'virtual' shelves if you will. Should we not collocate these
resources, relevant to our particular user group, along with the other
materials we have to offer in our library and facilitate discovery of
relevant information in all formats?"
John Riemer, Assistant Head of Cataloging, University of Georgia
Libraries, also spoke in favour of classifying Internet resources (as
forwarded to Autocat from CORC-L by Judith).
"I see a number reasons classification is/can be of value in records for
Several posted in favour of the integrating effect of classification on
the collection. Responding to a comment by Genevieve Clemens, cataloguing
Librarian, U.S. Naval Academy, Gene said further:
"Classification is discipline-based, while subject headings are topic-
based. In a title like Journal of Personality, specificity in subject
heading assignment would theoretically result in the single heading
'Personality$vPeriodicals'. There would not be any keyword 'psychology' in
the subject heading(s) to search against.
"If people like to browse a list of electronic resources,
alphabetically arranged either by title or by LCSH string from within the
records, it may be too overwhelming to give them everything the library
has. If the records contained LC classification numbers beginning 'BF ...'
we could isolate the subset of resources falling into the discipline of
psychology and present them with that more manageable alphabetical list.
"If OPAC users learn to 'online shelflist browse' at the terminal, they can
discover in a single setting resources that reside in a variety of physical
locations: regular stacks, special collections like reference, one or more
oversize sequences, those in circulation and those that aren't, those in
both open & closed stacks locations, etc. Further, if we think of
classification as a subject indexing language instead of a mere location
device, users can discover the electronic resources that fall into the same
areas as the physical objects with the same classification assignments."
"I wonder if our users won't discover classification number
searches as the virtual equivalent of browsing the shelves, as
they get used to finding information on the Internet."
"Exactly. If your OPAC allows patrons to browse by call number
and display the results arranged in call number order, then you
DO, in essence, have a 'virtual shelflist', a list of
bibliographic records arranged in the order in which the
corresponding materials are shelved in your collection. Take it
one step further, and begin your call number search not with a
complete call number but with a classification number, and you
pull in all those bib records to which you assigned a
classification number and not a complete call number. In this
way, you could have a virtual shelflist which reflects print AND
nonprint resources which your library physically possesses and
those Internet resources to which your library provides access.
"In addition to our regular book cataloging with complete LC call
numbers, LC currently assigns classification numbers to Internet
resources, tangible computer files, and many microforms (and
there may be other formats as well). So in the LC ILS, an OPAC
call number search of PE1625 (a general search for English
dictionaries), retrieves a hit list of 678 records. The first
five records show the classification number only; the rest have
complete LC call numbers. Four of the first five are tangible
computer files (computer disks or CD-ROMs) and the fifth is an
"Does this distinction matter to the patron? Maybe. But, all of
these materials, whether physically housed within the Library or
not, are available to the patron. When the patron points to
one of the records on the hit list and says 'I want to see that
one', it shouldn't matter what format the material is in (and if
it's an Internet resource, hopefully access is just a click
Tina Gunther, Cataloging Technician, Biola University Library, spoke of
the importance of classed retrieval, granted the small percentage of
"Call number searches may be a small percentage of online searches,
but I see a lot of patrons getting classification numbers from their
searches in other indexes. Once they know what part of the stacks they
want, they head off to browse the shelves to choose material from what is
available in that area."
A search by that classed number in a classed index would obviously then
produce much more material than a trip to the shelves.
David Moody, Cataloging Librarian, University of Detroit Mercy, added:
"I've been thinking about that 1.5% for classification number searches.
That's not insignificant. That's 15 out of every 1000 searches--and how
long does it take for your library to do 1000 searches?
"More importantly, these are likely to be quality searches
for known information. How many subject/title/author searches are just
stabs in the dark, and have to be repeated several times before they are
'right'? But a patron looking for a classification number probably knows
exactly what they are looking for--or else they wouldn't try the search in
the first place!"
Autocat Discussion of Classifying Internet Resources: Con
Daniel CannCasciato, Head of Cataloging, Central Washington University
Library, pointed out the small use currently made of class searching, a
fact already alluded to in posts quoted above.
"In our most recent statistical summary, from the online catalog, of 14,687
searches, 186 were call number searches. That's 1.27 % of the searches.
AND, of those a number were actually subject searches somehow entered into
a classification number search. 20 more were from a class assignment that
required students to use the classification search. (Somewhat ironically,
they were doing an accession number search.) The actual total is closer to
120. So, while classification is an avenue to finding materials, it
doesn't seem to be one that is a well beaten path, at least online. For
physical items in open stacks, (where the patron does browse, unknowingly
and without much guidance, by classification number), then it is very much
used. So, for those of us who do not classify certain materials, there is
a basic reason for it. Yes, in the long run it could prove to have been
narrow sighted. On the other hand, I have a much easier time supporting the
decision to participate in SACO and NACO than I do to classify materials that are
physically not present in the library."
Those who defended their decision to not classify Internet resources
spoke primarily of the time, effort, and cost, and of the confusion caused
library users by the fact that the material could not be found on the shelf
by that number. One who stated that position cogently, even though she
does class Internet resources, was Angela Murphy-Walters, Catalog
Librarian, Sherrod Library, East Tennessee State University.
"Although we do the kind of call number checking that Julie supports, and
have made the decision to classify Internet resources cataloged in our
database, I disagree that choosing not to classify these materials would
undermine a catalog or compromise call number
searching to a significant degree. As Julie wrote,
Classification is an avenue to finding materials, and it is an
avenue that is being corrupted if you do not classify every type
of material in the collection.
"but Internet resources are not in the collection. To many patrons, the
classification number is simply a means of finding an item on the shelf.
Seeing a call number associated with an Internet resource could cause a lot
of people to head for the stacks, and others to be simply confused. Yes,
there are ways around this. But if, in fact, call number searching is only
about 1.5% of the total number of searches done in our catalogs, and since
all the wonderful things that come from finding a call number and browsing
the nearby shelves for related materials won't happen when a patron clicks
on a URL, I understand that the time and effort involved in classifying
Internet resources could be hard to justify."
In another post Angela noted:
"... in many smaller libraries, including many school and
special libraries, there are not enough resources to accomplish
everything. .. . In those circumstances, taking the time to classify
resources that are not to be found on the shelves may not be worth the
Pam Deemer, Assistant Law Librarian, Cataloging Services, Hugh F.
MacMillan Law Library, Emory University, made practical points:
"I would say neither subject heading access nor classification alone will
provide complete access to titles on a subject. Both must be used and
combined because of different ways people perceive 'aboutness' and assign
subjects and classification. As far as online resources are concerned,
whether to classify or not depends on staffing, budget, patron demands and
expectations, source of cataloging, and systems. Another very hard thing
to buck is tradition. ... Triage is the name of the game when it comes to
assigning classification, especially retroactively and with very small
staff. How predecessors decided to handle classification of certain
collections causes problems for the current librarians. If a decision was
made to use acquisition numbers for videos, microforms, and audiotapes
because they were not collections to
be browsed, the current cataloger may be faced with the choice of
retrospectively classifying things or doing current cataloging.
"Then there is the factor of long-time patrons being used to certain
situations, such as serials shelved in alphabetical order. If they are
influential users, such as one's law professors, change is very hard to
Gordon Pew, Cataloger, U.S. Court of Appeals Library, 1st Circuit,
reported that his library does not even catalogue Internet resources, and
would not class them even if including them in its catalogue.
"I'm jumping in to say that my library does not catalog material
that is only available online -- primarily because of Court
concerns about Internet security: we don't want to encourage
accessing online resources through Court PCs. However, if I were
cataloging these materials, I would not classify them in the
same way I do physical materials. As other posters have noted, it
is misleading to the patron to assign a call number to something
that can't be found on a shelf. I would favor giving online
resources a location code (such as INTERNET or ONLINE) and maybe
even using the URL as a kind of classification number (after all,
it is a locating device). But to classify the online version of
the U.S. Government Manual in JK421 would be incorrect, IM(NS)HO.
It isn't on the shelf with other JK421 materials. However, the
use of the same subject headings, as well as collocation by title
in the catalog, will make the library user aware that it can be
used as a library resource."
Some have even abandoned "shelflisting" as advocated by Julie, i.e.
adjusting the Cutter to achieve alphabetic order within class number, for
all library materials. Don Spicehandler, Head of Technical Services,
School of Visual Arts, NYC, reported:
"Currently we do -not- do any 'proactive' shelflisting, even for
shelved items, unless we know that the incoming item is an added copy,
added volume, etc. In most cases, we accept call numbers blindly, and this
is whether the copy is LC or not. The catalogers do look at class numbers
quickly, just to make sure they are close to what they are 'supposed' to
be. Cursorily. And so our shelf order is far from perfect. Just like us.
Real shelflisting is simply not an option for many smaller libraries, those
with one professional cataloger who's on a zillion committees and has the
same number of responsibilities beyond cataloging. This is sad but true
and I assume, not that uncommon."
Autocat Discussion of Classification of Internet Resources: Other
Some pointed out uses of classification for Internet resources
other than subject searching. Among them Jenna L. Oliver, Cataloging,
Renton Technical Library, The Boeing Company.
"Well Julie, I do not think that classifying internet materials is a waste
of time. Aside from the fact that if someone (patron or librarian)
searches by call number they might well miss some material (and faculty and
grad students do use the call number searches for browsing!!) - because we
didn't classify it....
"Classification is often used as a collection development tool!! And in my
experience, it has been a very valuable tool. I fought hard in my former
(university) library (like a dog with a bone) to keep class numbers on
online resources - whether Internet, CD, what-have-you. While some said it
was a 'waste of time', others saw the value of keeping the records
consistent and tracking the material, if only for collection development
purposes. (Today's free online resource is tomorrow's for-profit
John, quoted earlier, also points to other uses for class numbers in
records for Internet resources.
"When accreditation is done on campus, I often get asked if there is any
way to determine the number of library books and serials the students and
faculty have access to in a given discipline. Given the expense of
acquiring and the effort to organize electronic resources, it is quite
helpful to classify them, such that a report can be run to determine how
many OPAC records have class numbers falling into the desired ranges from
Manuel Urrizola, Serials Cataloguing Librarian, University of
California, Irvine, described the collection development benefit:
"One should not overlook the collection development value of
classifying electronic resources (many of which costs thousands of
dollars). Many of the collection development software programs I am
familiar with use classification as a means of evaluating one's
collection. I can understand not Cuttering, but I think electronic
resources should be given a base call number (which can be suppressed from
the public but still bring up records on a call number search)."
Mark Braden, Catalog/System Librarian, Occidental College Library, made
the basic distinction between classification and call number, drawing
attention to our lapse in calling the classed search a call number one.
"1) Classification. I consider it important to include a Class number ...
2) Call Numbers. Now, for the way that most Innopacs are configured, the
only search by Classification is the Call Number search. In my mind,
Classification is not Call Number. If you have a separate index for the
Classification Number in a bib record, that's a good thing. If you can
only display and search Class Numbers by the CALL NUMBER index, then that's
bad--call numbers are the location of the piece in your collection (on the
shelves). As many have said, there is no 'shelf location' for Internet
Perhaps the most definitive post summarizing comment so far, and
stating other values of classing Internet resources, was made by Charles
Pennell, Head Catalogue Department, North Carolina University Libraries
(formerly of Memorial University Library).
"I agree with most of what I have seen here concerning classification of
Internet resources. It IS true that assigning class numbers to these
materials WILL cause some undergraduates to wander aimlessly in the stacks
and that patrons do not rely heavily on call number browses in the OPAC,
preferring to restrict this practice to the stacks. On the other hand,
this may be another of those self-fulfilling prophecies, as at least North
American librarians have conditioned patrons to think of call numbers
primarily as parking places and to restrict assignment of a resource to a
single class number. In a large academic library, you need only look at
the QA76.5 or E98-99 areas to see how unbrowsable this practice within the
LC classification has
become. ILS (integrated library system) vendors respond to our
unidimensional use of classification by giving us poor call number
search capabilities. Our DRA system still cannot browse call numbers
backwards and can only go forwards within the range provided by the call
number requested. If you enter QA76, then you can't see QA75 or QA77. No
wonder only 1.5% of OPAC searches are by call number!
"Obviously, there are plenty of reasons for increasing classification
access to our growing collections. If your library provides any type of
new receipt notification service to faculty and students based on
classification number profiles, anything (Internet stuff, SuDocs,
unclassified microform, unclassified periodicals, etc.) not classified is
going to be left out. If you are analyzing holdings in a discipline for an
accreditation review or a proposal to establish a new academic program,
unclassified items are going to be left out. Continuing to assign only
single class numbers where more than one may be justified also affects how
patrons will use the OPAC for subject access, how vendors will develop
their OPACs, and how libraries will harvest resources for management use
and publicizing recent acquisitions. This is certainly an area where we
could use OPACs to overcome some of the
limitations which are forced upon us by our need to physically park
materials in one place only.
"NC State is wrestling with the classification of electronic, microform and
other non-LC classed materials, not because we want to change how we shelve
(or not shelve, as the case may be) these materials, but because we want to
provide automated SDI-type services for patrons who want to know what is
available in their area(s). Our MyLibrary service
uses call numbers to provide customized new
material notification and lists of available reference resources. We have
partially extended this to electronic journals and databases, but since
these are not classified here we have had to add discipline information to
MARC 699 fields. To more fully realize this service we would like to add
classification numbers, but would not like this to display to the public
(the wander aimlessly factor). We are looking for other places where class
numbers might be embedded for class browsing without affecting public
display. We could, for example, point the indexes to the 050, (055, 060,
082--add your favorite here) 090, although these have never been controlled
here (we have not edited
or removed call numbers from other libraries while cataloging). Since we
are a MARC holdings site, we could embed this info in the MFHD and solve
the problem of control, except there are no classification fields (05x-09x)
provided for in that format, only the local call number in 85x-86x. The
85x and 86x display in our OPAC, which would be counter-productive. So, I
think that there is interest out here for increasing classification access
to our collections, for adding the ability to assign multiple classes to a
single work even if it IS only parked in one of the classes, and for
developing an underdeveloped part of the OPAC and management report
structures of ILS. Perhaps Internet resources will prove the impetus for
Let us hope Charley is correct. The former Catss defined 089 for
classed catalogue numbers, and it was carried over into MARCit as a locally
defined field. OCLC has so defined 699. MARC21 still ignores this very
Single or Separate Records for Internet Resources?
Julie also raised the question of single or separate records for
"I am equally dumfounded at the number of responding catalogers who
are lumping the paper and the Internet records together on the paper
record. It is confusing to have a 300 tag that looks like paper -- with the
volumes and/or pagination, cm., etc., but it is actually a computer file on
the Internet. This is blatant disregard for AACR2R98: 'If an item is
available in different formats . . . give the physical description of the
format in hand. Optionally, make a note describing other formats in which
it is available.' Forgive me if I have misinterpreted, but I take this
option to mean that it is merely a note to give the user more information.
This is not giving the catalogers a rule that it is OK to lump all of these
different formats onto one record. What is the difference between that and
taking a video, a sound cassette, and several differing paper editions of a
title and lumping them all onto one record?! I realize that every library
has its own quirky policies. (We have our own, too!) However, I am
saddened to see such disregard for such basic principles as classification
and cataloging different editions/formats."
In a further post, Julie added that another problem with combining print
and electronic resourses in one record was determining whether they were in
fact the same edition with the same content.
"For instance, one electronic journal might include all the 'works' in the
original which are substantial articles but omit the 'works' which are
letters to the editors, etc. Another might include elaborate graphics or
video or other extensions of the articles which it would not be feasible to
include with the print edition.
"A semi-related question I have worried over is the best means to relate a
print serial which has ceased to the web site (not a true serial but an on-
going entity none-the less) which succeeds it."
My answer to Julie's last question above was that full format
integration should allow the use of 780/785 (supercedes and
succeeding notes and entries) to link records for print serials which
become websites with the succeeding website. As remarked earlier, and as
Julie agrees, having holdings united for serials is an advantage for
keeping all formats (print, microform, electronic) of a serial in one
record. The use of a 530 (additional physical forms available note) in the
record for each format would obviate this advantage for monographs.
Gail A. Spears, Catalog Librarian, College of Law Library, Georgia State
University, responded to Julie's post by posing some questions, but not
"One record or separate is the question when it comes to cataloging
internet resources. That is the sixty four thousand [dollar] question
these days. Yes, we know what the various agencies have called for in the
way of national standards. But wait, what about local standards? Don't
they count for something also? I sure hope so. We might be able to follow
the general intent and outline of national standards, but we also have to
think of our users. Ok, some (librarians) think that one record for the
various formats for one title leads to confusion. Others say that separate
records are the way it should be, especially if there is some variation in
either of the formats of the title. Ok, so we all have our opinions. But
what about the user? Is it really confusing to view one record which has
multiple formats or does it make it simpler for the user to fetch? Do we
think users really want to scroll down a screen or two to make sure that
he/she has not overlooked the title they might wish to access regardless of
format? These are just a few of the simplest questions that might run
through my mind."
Mark also expressed his reaction to the question of whether Internet
resources should be added to the print record for the same work, or should
have their own records.
"Separate Records. Having read the excerpt from the CONSER Manual, I feel
as though there is some conflict. Microforms often have the exact same
content as the paper format of the newspaper. However, we commonly build a
separate record for the microform version. Why, now, do we change practice
and consider electronic format (Internet resource) something which doesn't
merit a separate record, if the content is the same? I'm disappointed with
the outcome of that CONSER discussion.
"But, I must admit that I disagree with other CONSER decisions
about Internet resources, especially serials. And, even esteemed
colleagues such as the University of California have apparently
decided to place electronic on one record with the print."
Erica R. Powell, Director, Technical Services, Calder Memorial Library,
University of Miami School of Medicine, also posted in opposition to the
single record for multiple formats. She does not agree with Adam Schiff
(see below) on the probable development of rules in this area.
"In our library, I catalog an Internet resource just like any other
item. My background has always been in the cataloging of nonprint
materials. ... In the Interim guidelines for the Internet, the policy
states that if you use 1 record then you must combine all the information
in that one record. Therefore, you should have two 300s, two 362s, etc. I
know that our patrons would find this very confusing and I suspect that
down the road, the rules will state that you must use individual records."
While we have read little in the literature about the work record
concept since the Toronto meeting, that seems to be what is sought in
combining text and computer file in one record. Patrons are certainly
served by having all holdings of a serial combined, but other advantages of
combining formats in a single record seem to have other solutions, such as
a note in each format record recording the existence of the other, as
Mary Ann Van Cura, Associate Director of Technical Services, Thomas M.
Cooley Law School Library, quotes with approval the CONSER suggestions:
"The cataloging of Internet resources has been a challenge. CONSER
established a working group to recommend treatment of electronic resources.
They have prepared some recommendations, which some of you may find useful.
Although the recommendations have not yet been approved, they are
practical, and will be considered for adoption by CONSER libraries down-
the-road. Note: They may appear to contradict a long-held practice of
creating separate records for different physical formats. In a time of
limited staffing resources, they seem to have proposed a middle ground.
See what you think!
"The full text of the working group recommendations, 'Single or
Separate Records: What's Appropriate and When' is available at this web
"This excerpt provides the proposed criteria for cataloging
electronic titles on a single record versus on a separate record:
"For serials that do warrant cataloging, define the characteristics of
those that could be appropriately described on a single record (for
libraries which have opted to use this approach) and the characteristics of
those that would best be handled by separate records. Again, consider the
subject, scope and purpose of the site, its similarity to the original
"A. When to use a single record
A single record is recommended in any of the following situations:
Equivalent content. The content of the paper and electronic
versions are the same but the titles differ. The content is
equivalent but the presentation differs (e.g., articles are added to an
issue by the publisher as soon as they are ready, rather than
releasing complete issue.) The titles of the print and electronic
versions change simultaneously. GPO single-record copy is available.
"B. When to use a separate record
A separate record is recommended in any of the following situations:
Resource exists only in electronic form. Content of electronic resource
differs significantly from print resource. Resource undergoes a change in
format, usually from print to electronic. Resource is a database or web
site whose content is equivalent to more than one print source (e.g., Web
of Science). Resource is a database or web site whose content includes
significant new material beyond existing print sources. The original text
cannot be definitively identified."
This CONSER proposal has firm supporters. Mary Grenci, Serials Catalog
Librarian, Knight Library, University of Oregon, stated:
"Unfortunately (in my opinion) we do not put multiple formats on one record
here at the University of Oregon. The one exception is for titles received
in both remote electronic and paper formats. In this one case, we note the
existence of the electronic version on the record for the paper. The only
reason we are doing this is because CONSER has given a semi-official 'okay'
to the practice, I argued strongly for it, and when I asked public service
staff what they thought they agreed that it was preferable to separate
records (I showed them examples of each).
" ... I can say that I don't think it's all that important if patrons don't
look at the notes in the bibliographic record that explain the various
formats held. As long as they can tell from the holdings screen what vols.
are held and where they are, then that's what really matters. For our
purposes (as librarians, and in particular for collection development
purposes) it is important to have the notes and to be able to easily tell
what we own in each format. It would be helpful for patrons to know this
too, so they would know if they have the proper equipment and such, but
they usually don't much care.
"I guess what I'm saying is that what really matters is whether or not
patrons know where to go to get something. This information can be in the
bibliographic record, or it can be somewhere else--it doesn't matter, as
long as the patron sees it. Using separate records means that in most cases
the patron will not see all of this information because they simply won't
Adam L. Schiff, Principal Cataloger, University of Washington Libraries,
whole heartily supports the single record concepts, and predicts that rules
will change in that direction, in contrast to Erica.
"We have adopted the one-record approach for monographs as well as for
serials when we own a tangible version of something and there is also a
one-to-one equivalence in its remote electronic version. (Yes, we can
debate what one-to-one equivalence is, but we generally follow LC's
guidelines about this as spelled out in their Draft Interim Guidelines for
Cataloging Electronic Resources, (). I also like the
University of California's Task Force on Electronic Resources report on
cataloging of electronic resources
(). Among its
recommendations is to 'use a single record approach whenever the electronic
resource would serve as a suitable substitute for most users.' We only use
a one-record approach (LC calls this a delineation) if and only if we also
own a tangible (print, microform, CD-ROM, etc.) version of the electronic
resource. If we don't own the tangible version, then we do a separate
record for just the remote electronic version. Our policies for doing a
single record require that we add an 007 for the electronic version, a 530
note, an 856, and a 740 added title entry if the title of the electronic is
different from the title of the version described in the 245. In some
cases we modify our local bib. records and in other cases we upgrade a
record on OCLC. Some
examples of single records for monographs in OCLC: #40415131 A
reading group toolbox for the works of Russell Banks, #38246248
International directory of art libraries, #40108464 Estimating
historical snag density in dry forests east of the Cascade Range,
#20380090 Catalog of the Diptera of the Australasian and Oceanian
regions, #10577390 Species profiles : life histories and
environmentalrequirements of coastal fishes and invertebrates (Pacific
Northwest). Chinook salmon, #10579955 Habitat suitability index models.
Clapper rail, #39029134 Volcanoes / by Robert I. Tilling. 1998., #34333394
Philosophy in cyberspace.
"It is all well and good to say that we should do separate records for all
electronic resources, but the facts are that users probably prefer to
retrieve one record for a resource rather than multiple records for
multiple manifestations. Web-based online catalogs can do a very nice job
of handling single-records for these things. As an example, search our
catalog for the titles listed above
() to see how this works in one
particular catalog. Very few libraries have the staffing to do original or
copy cataloging for all the electronic resources that we would like to
include in our catalogs, particularly if most of the work has already been
done when the tangible resource was cataloged.
"Finally, although it is correct that AACR2R currently does not
sanction the creation one bibliographic record to represent multiple
manifestations of the same work, this is likely to change. CC:DA (ALA's
Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access) is on record as favoring a
rewriting of the rules so that they would permit using one record for
multiple manifestations and it is likely that rule revisions will
eventually get proposed and passed to this end."
It seems evident that until North American Librarians create indexed,
browsable, classed files, and educate patrons in their use, the effort to
assign class numbers to materials not requiring a call number for shelf
placement will not appeal to some cataloguers. If it is wished to assign
multiple class numbers and suppress them from public view as Charley
suggests, than a MARC field for that purpose in needed in both MARC21 and
in local systems. The two tags which have been so used are 089 and 699.
In the meantime, it will primarily be those libraries who have other
uses for class numbers (such as collection development, bibliography
production, and SDI services) which will assign classification numbers to
The present examples of single records for text and electronic resources
are not composite records. Even with the addition of an 007 (physical
description fixed fields) for the electronic resource, they are records for
the print or other tangible form, with the electronic version noted. To be
a combined record, there would have to be a compound gmd, e.g., "[text &
computer file]", a second 300 with an smd such as "website", and a
differing title for the computer file in 246 with identifying $i
information. The 530 (additional physical forms available note) and 740
(added entry for related or analytical title) imply that the computer file
is a related work, which in fact it is. One could equally well add the 530
and 740 to each of the separate records for the differing formats.
Considerable further development is required to have a "work" record
covering two or more manifestations. As has been suggested, there seems
little reason to single out Internet resources for single record treatment
with print versions, while other physical formats receive separate records.
* In all cases only portions of posts are quoted to help reduce
redundancy among posts. Only internal omissions are indicated. The posts
have also been passed through spell check. U.S. Congress persons may
remove misstatements from the Congressional Record, but we Autocat
posters' bloopers are there for all to see in the Autocat archives, which
may be searched for the full texts of the quoted posts.
The archives may be searched on the WWW. Go directly to the following