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Cataloging Online Books: Born-Digital

To: Cataloging Staff
From: Matthew Beacom & Youn Noh
Date: (12/2006 issue date/ 10/01/2009 5:22 PM revision date)

Table of Contents

Introduction | Fixed Fields | Variable Fields | 050 - ISBN | 050 - Library of Congress Call Number | 24X - Title Area | 250 - Edition Area | 256 - Computer File Characteristics | 260 - Publication Area | 300 - Physical Description | 5XX - Notes | 856 - Electronic Location and Access | Access Points | 6XX - Subjects | 7XX - Added Entries | MFHD | IExportQ | Related Documents


This document [formerly Cataloging Online Books: Electronic Editions ] has been revised to be consistent with General Website Cataloging Policies & Procedures instituted Feb. 2008 & the PCC Guidelines for Provider-Neutral e-Monographs instituted in the fall of 2009.


SCOPE. Our documentation has separate cataloging guidelines provided for electronic resources depending upon (1) mode of access, (2) mode of issuance, and (3) availability of source copy. The primary focus of this document is on the cataloging of electronic monographic works accessed online when source copy is not available. This document applies if all of the following conditions are met:

  1. The resource is a remote access electronic resource.
  2. Accessability of the resource meets the conditions described in General Website Cataloging Policies & Procedures (items c. & f.) Regarding item f.: conditions are not met if the site requires the user to log on.
  3. The resource is issued as a monograph. It is not updated.
  4. The monograph is "born-digital," i.e, there is no corresponding resource known to be available in another format (e.g. print, microform, CD-ROM) and, consequently, there is no bibliographic record upon which to base cataloging of the online monograph

These guidelines may be used for original cataloging within the scope described above. The guidelines should not be applied to original cataloging based on a bibliographic record for a version in another format. The latter situation is covered in Cataloging Online Books: Copy Cataloging & Variant Format Cataloging.

Remote Access vs. Direct Access

Remote access electronic resources are accessed over a computer network such as the Internet. Direct access electronic resources have a physical carrier (AACR2 Appendix D, Glossary). See, for example, Census 2000, Summary File 1, available on DVD (a direct access electronic resource) and (a remote access electronic resource) online. A bibliographic record should be created for each format.* Guidelines for cataloging CDs, DVDs, and other direct access electronic resources are available.

Monographs vs. Integrating Resources

Some monographs in print format become integrating resources when issued online because they are continually or frequently updated and updates are integrated into the whole. Compare, for example, Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy (a monograph) and Wikipedia (an integrating resource). Guidelines for cataloging online integrating resources are available.

Born-Digital vs. Variant Format Cataloging

Based on the 2009 PCC guidelines, generally consider any online monograph with the same content as the print version* to be a candidate for variant format cataloging. Online monographs with no print version counterpart should be cataloged following the PCC guidelines for born-digital cataloging.

*Print version can include: physical printed books, microform, CD-ROM. The print version can pre-date release of the online book or be published simultaneously with the online version.

The Adventures of Don Juan would be cataloged as "born-digital," while Creep mechanics should be cataloged using the variant format guidelines.


For additional guidance, consult Provider Neutral E-Monograph MARC Record Guide and AACR2 Chapter 9 (Electronic Resources), in conjunction with the AACR2 chapter(s) appropriate for the type of material being cataloged. In all cases, consult AACR2 Chapter 1 for general descriptive rules.

Before proceeding with cataloging, enter the 856 field into the bibliographic record and test the URL provided by the selector. Verify that the URL meets condition 2. If it does not, contact the selector, acquisitions, or your supervisor as appropriate. Do not proceed with cataloging until condition 2 is met [the resource cannot require payment and the URL must be able to point directly to the title cited in 245]. Note that some sites will allow direct access only after you log on; this does not meet condition 2. Until the issues are resolved, the in-process record should be suppressed.

Sources of Information

For online resources, the chief source of information is the resource itself (AACR2 9.0B1). Prefer formally presented evidence from the home page, title screen, HTML header, etc. If no information is available from the resource itself, it is acceptable to use information from the publisher, creator, etc. Information issued by the publisher is one of the prescribed sources of information, so it does not need to be bracketed (AACR2 9.0B2).

Fixed Fields


Leader window in Voyager

Supply a value for Type of Record that reflects the predominant content of the resource. Online books should be coded a (Language material) even when they include search software and hyperlinks. Since online resources are considered published (AACR2 9.4B2), do not use codes for manuscript material. For example, an online dissertation is coded a (Language material) rather than t (Manuscript language material). Use the YUL default Encoding Level 4.

008 - General Description

008 window in Voyager

The value supplied for Type of Record in the leader triggers the type of 008. For online books, that type is Book.

Provide values for publication information, Form of Item, Language, Modified Record Code, and Cataloging Source. Obtain publication information as instructed in 260 - Publication Area. Form of Item should always be coded s (Electronic). Code other bytes appropriately.

007 - Physical Description

Create an 007 to describe the physical medium of the resource.


Click the 007 button, select the Computer File tab and click New. Specific Material Designation is always coded r (Remote). Under the 2009 PCC guidelines, coding of the other fields is not required ("No Attempt to Code"). Specialist units are free to add additional coding if desired.

006 - Additional Material Characteristics

Create an 006 to describe the format of the resource.

006 window in Voyager

Click the 006 button, select the Computer File tab, and click New. For online books, Type of File should be coded d (Document). Code other bytes appropriately.

Variable Fields

In the variable fields of the bibliographic record, follow the current established guidelines and procedures for monographic cataloging in all areas, with particular emphasis on the instructions below.

The examples are taken from existing records. Some fields have been modified. Only those fields relevant to the point being explained are included. Follow the link in the 856 field to examine the resource being described. The text <URL> is used in place of the URL that would appear in the record.

020 - ISBN

Record the ISBN for the online format in subfield a. Do not transcribe hyphens. For born-digital resources, there should only be an ISBN for the online resource by definition.

020     ‡a 0684314517
245 0 0 ‡a Encyclopedia of clothing and fashion ‡h [electronic resource] / ‡c Valerie Steele, editor in chief.
856 4 0 ‡y Online book ‡u URL




050 - Library of Congress Call Number

Supply an LC classification number for the item in subfield a. Do not add it to the MFHD. The call number will be reflected in the bibliographic record, but not in the OPAC. An item number (subfield b) is unnecessary.

050   4 ‡a T395.5.G7
100 1   ‡a Altick, Richard Daniel, ‡d 1915-
245 1 4 ‡a The shows of London ‡h [electronic resource] / ‡c Richard D. Altick.
856 4 0 ‡y Online book ‡u URL





24X - Title Area

Take title information from formally presented evidence (e.g., title page, table of contents page, home page, HTML header). If the information in these sources varies in degree of fullness, prefer the source that provides the most complete information. The source of title is always given in a note. See 500 - Source of Title Note.

Select the title that applies to the resource at the level selected for description, typically the page at the URL given in the 856 field.

Give the general material designation (GMD) electronic resource in subfield h, immediately after the title proper, i.e., following any alternative title or part number (subfield n) or name (subfield p) but preceding any parallel title(s) or other title information (subfield b) (AACR2 9.1C).

The GMD electronic resource is used for all formats of material accessed online, including images, audio, and video, as well as text (LCRI 1.1C).

245 0 0 ‡a Struggles in the promised land ‡h [electronic resource] : ‡b toward a history of Black-Jewish relations in the United States / ‡c edited by Jack Salzman & Cornel West.
856 4 0 ‡y Online book ‡u URL





245 0 4 ‡a The twelfth and last collection of papers. ‡n Vol. I, ‡p Relating to the present juncture of affairs in England and Scotland ... ‡h [electronic resource].
856 4 0 ‡y Online book ‡u URL





245 0 0 ‡a Psalterion ‡h [electronic resource] = ‡b Psalterium : juxta exemplar Alexandrinum.
856 4 0 ‡y Online book ‡u URL




Online resources frequently display more than one form of title. Create a 246 field for each variant title (AACR2 9.7B4, 21.30J2). Since the record is provider neutral, location of variant titles "may vary" depending on the provider. For that reason, providing a specific location on the site for the variant title is discouraged under the current guidelines: 246 3_ is sufficient. Variant titles that include the name of the provider should be ignored. If there is reason to believe the title is provider specific, code the first indicator 1 for a note and an added entry. Use the standard note recommended by PCC:
$i Available from some providers with title:


245 0 4 ‡a The Royal Historical Society bibliography ‡h [electronic resource].
246 3   ‡a Welcome to the RHS bibliography
246 3   ‡a RHS bibliography
856 4 0 ‡y Online book ‡u URL






In the example above, Welcome to the RHS bibliography appears in the HTML header and on the home page, so it is transcribed as an alternate title. The title proper is transcribed without introductory wording (AACR2 1.1B1). In the latter case, an added entry (first indicator 3) is sufficient. Since the publisher is an integral part of the publication's title, the variant forms should apply to all provider versions, so the PCC note is not used.


245 0 0 ‡a Access 2012 ‡h [electronic resource] : ‡b personal trainer.
246 1   ‡i Available from some providers with title: ‡a Access2012
260     ‡a Sebastopol, CA : ‡b O'Reilly, ‡c c2013.
856 4 0 ‡y Online book ‡u URL





In the (hypothetical) example above, the provider is Safari Tech Books Online. The publisher O'Reilly now publishes its titles only as e-books; the book is "born digital." On the right side of the window is a large icon with the message: Start reading Access2012 now! E-books licensed through Safari Tech have a standard configuration which includes entry of the title of the e-book on the Start icon of the e-book's opening window. It's reasonable to expect that this is a provider rather than a publisher quirk, so the provider-neutral note is evoked.

250 - Edition Area

Transcribe an edition statement, if the resource contains differences from other editions of the resource or is a named reissue of a resource. Take the presence of words such as edition, issue, version, release, and update as evidence that the statement is an edition statement (AACR2 9.2B2).


245 1 0 ‡a Oral history and postwar German-American relations ‡h [electronic resource] : ‡b resources in the United States / ‡c Robert P. Grathwol, Donita M. Moorhus, Douglas J. Wilson.
300     ‡a Hypertext version with additional resources / ‡b by Raimund Lammersdorf.
856 4 0 ‡y Online book ‡u URL






Do not treat an issue of a resource that incorporates minor changes (e.g., changes in look and feel or changes in navigation) or changes that apply to only part of a resource as a new edition (AACR2 9.2B4).

A new bibliographic record is required when a URL remains active but links to a different resource than that described in an existing record (LCRI 21.3B). The cataloger should create a new record, rather than modify the record for the resource previously at that location. If the resource previously at that location is not available at another URL, the record for it should be deleted.

260 - Publication Area

Consider all remote access electronic resources to be published (AACR2 9.4B2).

Explicit publication information may appear on the home page, table of contents page, or about page. Examples of phrases that are considered explicit statements of publication include created by, hosted by, etc. Give the name of the publisher in the 260 field, even if already given in the title area. In accordance with the PCC guidelines, do not include the names of any distributors, if different.

Online resources often include many pieces of intellectual content that have different copyright dates. If there is no publication date which applies to the resource as a whole and the resource has multiple copyright dates, transcribe only the latest copyright date (AACR2 9.4F4).

300 - Physical Description

This field always begins with "1 online resource." Provide in parentheses the extent of the item, if readily available, e.g., the number of pages of a PDF document (AACR2 9.5B3). Record illustrative material in $b. The practice of recording "PDF" in $b is no longer followed.

245 1 0 ‡a Inventory and assessment of databases relevant for social science research on terrorism ‡h [electronic resource] : ‡b a report / ‡c authors, Alice R. Buchalter, Glenn E. Curtis.
250     ‡a 1 online resource (21 p.) : ‡b ill.
856 4 0 ‡y Online book ‡u URL





490/830 Series Statement/Series Added Entry

If a series is provider specific, do not transcribe as a series statement or make a series added entry. Publisher series should be transcribed. In some cases, the publisher is also the provider; in that case, treat the publisher as a publisher rather than as a provider.

5XX - Notes

Give notes to

  • Provide information not contained in the body of the entry to justify an access point in the bibliographic record;
  • Provide other information related to the content of the resource;
  • Provide information about relationships to other resources.

Order of Notes

For original cataloging, follow the AACR2 prescribed order of notes.

500 - Source of Title Note

Always specify the source of title and the date on which the resource was viewed for description (AACR2 9.7B3, 9.7B22). Combine these in a single note.

Use the term home page for the first, opening, or entry page of a Web site consisting of multiple individual Web pages.


245 0 0 ‡a Encyclopedia of Chicago ‡h [electronic resource] / ‡c edited by James R. Grossman, Ann Durkin Keating, Janice L. Reiff ; cartographic editor, Michael P. Conzen.
500     ‡a Title from home page (viewed May 11, 2005).
856 4 0 ‡y Online book ‡u URL






Use the term table of contents page for a page that lists the contents of a resource.


245 1 0 ‡a Designing sociable robots ‡h [electronic resource] / ‡c Cynthia L. Breazeal.
500     ‡a Title from table of contents page (viewed Sept. 2, 2005).
856 4 0 ‡y Online book ‡u URL





Use the term HTML header for the content of the title tag in the HTML header (<head><title> ... <title><head>), which displays in the browser title bar.


245 0 2 ‡a A Yale book of numbers ‡h [electronic resource] : ‡b historical statistics of the college and university, 1976-2000 / ‡c edited by Beverly Waters.
500     ‡a Title from HTML header (viewed Aug. 10, 2006).
856 4 0 ‡y Online book ‡u URL





See Source of Title Note for Internet Resources for more information.

500/550 - Statements of Responsibility, Issuing Bodies, and Publishers Note

Under our local core guidelines, notes on statements of responsibility, issuing bodies, and publishers not recorded elsewhere in the description are not required. If notes are made, use the 550 field for information on issuing bodies; otherwise, use the 500 field. See 7XX - Added Entries for instructions on creating added entries for name headings.

245 0 0 ‡a Deaf people in Hitler's Europe ‡h [electronic resource] / ‡c Donna F. Ryan and John S. Schuchman, editors.
500     ‡a "Published in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum."
856 4 0 ‡y Online book ‡u URL





[516 - Type of Computer File Note]

Per the new PCC guidelines, generally do not make a Type of Computer File note unless the e-monograph has unusual properties.

530 - Other Formats Note

530 is used to record availability in other formats. In the born-digital scenario, 530 should not be necessary.

590 - Access Restrictions Note & Local Access Note

Do not make the local access note for resources that are open access.

For licensed resources, indicate restrictions on access in a 590 field.

Per the new PCC guidelines, 506 Access restricted by licensing agreement is no longer made. However, if instructed to make a restrictions on access note for non-licensing situations, enter the note in 506. In that case, do not export the record to OCLC. [This situation should be unusual.]


245 1 0 ‡a Designing sociable robots ‡h [electronic resource] / ‡c Cynthia L. Breazeal.
590     ‡a Access is available to the Yale community.
856 4 0 ‡y Online book ‡u URL






Per the PCC guidelines, the following notes formerly used in e-book cataloging are now obsolete:

500/540. Notes about the e-book provider(s).

506 [Access restricted by licensing agreement]

516 [Type of computer files, e.g. Images, text.]

530 Also available in print version.

533. Reproduction note.

538. Mode of access: World Wide Web.

540. Terms of use.

583. Action note.

856 - Electronic Location and Access

Create an 856 field to provide access to the resource. Code the first indicator 4 to specify that the access method is HTTP. Code the second indicator 0 (zero) to specify that the URL provides direct access to the resource described in the body of the record. Enter Online book in subfield y for the link text. In subfield u, copy and paste the URL as it appears on the screen. If the URL changes from session to session, copy the link location by moving the cursor above the link text, right-clicking on the mouse, and selecting copy link location. If the publisher provides a URL for bookmarking or linking, use that. After saving the record, switch to the OPAC and test the link.

245 1 0 ‡a Designing sociable robots ‡h [electronic resource] / ‡c Cynthia L. Breazeal.
856 4 0 ‡y Online book ‡u URL




Access Points

6XX - Subjects

Do not assign a heading for the form of a resource, e.g., Electronic information resources, as a topical subject heading unless the resource is about the form.

The use of the 655 field to bring out form aspects of electronic resources is obsolete.

Do not assign form subdivisions, e.g., --Electronic information resources, merely to indicate that a resource is online.

Do not assign the subdivision --Databases under subjects for remote access electronic resources that are essentially textual in nature, even if they are searchable (SCM H 1520). This restriction applies to online resources that have the structure of and present themselves as reference-type works, e.g., directories, bibliographies, catalogs, dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc.

7XX - Added Entries

Name Added Entries

Make an added entry for a prominently named corporate body, unless it functions solely as a publisher, distributor [provider], or manufacturer (AACR2 21.30E1 & PCC guidelines). See 500/550 - Statements of Responsibility, Issuing Bodies, and Publishers Note.


245 0 0 ‡a Deaf people in Hitler's Europe ‡h [electronic resource] / ‡c Donna F. Ryan and John S. Schuchman, editors.
260     ‡a Washington, D.C. : ‡b Gallaudet University Press, ‡c 2002.
500     ‡a Inspired by an international conference held June 21-24, 1998 in Washington, DC under the auspices of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the History and Government Dept. at Gallaudet University.
710 2   ‡a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
856 4 0 ‡y Online book ‡u URL








In the MFHD, create an 852 field with first indicator 8 and second indicator 0 (zero). Enter the location code yulint for Yale Internet Resource in subfield b. Do not provide a call number in subfield h; simply enter None. Add Online resource as a public note in subfield z.

852 8 0 ‡b yulint ‡h None ‡z Online resource


This template should be used for all online resources.


Upon completion of cataloging, close the holdings record. Export the bibliographic record to OCLC and MARS by clicking Send in the ExportQ window with the bibliographic record open.

If there special copyright restrictions on the e-version, do not export to OCLC. See 590 note field above.


Source of Title Note for Internet Resources [some of the best practices currently recorded here are no longer consistent with PCC practice, but the document is still useful for identifying parts of the web display when creating source of title proper notes and how to choose as the title proper.]

Fixed Field Coding in Records for Online Resources

Cataloging Online Books: Copy Cataloging and Variant Formats

Cataloging Online Integrating Resources

General Website Cataloging Policies & Procedures

Provider-Neutral E-Monograph MARC Record Guide

[TOC] | Cataloging at Yale | [Optional Link]

NOTE: Examples may require Arial MS Unicode font to be viewed correctly on web browser.
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Last updated: 01-Oct-2009 5:22 PM