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Cataloging Online Books: Electronic Editions--DRAFT revision

To: Cataloging Staff
From: Matthew Beacom & Youn Noh
Date: (12/2006 issue date/ 02/27/2008 10:10 AM 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 | Item Record | ExportQ | Related Documents


This document has been revised to be consistent with Yale Core guidelines and General Website Cataloging Policies & Procedures instituted Feb. 2008.


Separate cataloging guidelines are provided for electronic resources depending upon (1) mode of access, (2) mode of issuance, and (3) edition. The primary focus of this document is on online books. 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 resource is cataloged as an electronic edition, not a reproduction.

These guidelines may be used for original cataloging and for updating copy. (Updating copy: if a paragraph is labelled Copy Cataloging Policy, the implied scenario is that the cataloger is using member cataloging copy for the reproduction.)

IMPORTANT. Before proceeding with cataloging, test the URL provided by the selector. Verify that the URL meets condition 2. If you are upgrading less than full cataloging from OCLC, and there is already an 856 URL, do not use the URL in the OCLC record for testing; always use the URL provided by the selector. In some cases, the site may have set cookies on your computer that may cause misleading results when you test. Use the browser function to clear cookies for the site and test a second time.

For now, if a test of the URL does not result in a direct connection to the resource you intend to catalog, contact the selector, acquisitions, or your supervisor as appropriate. Do not proceed with cataloging until condition 2 is met. Note that some sites will allow direct access only after you log on; this does not meet condition 2.

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.

*(which hasn't been done for the online version so far of Census 2000 Summary File 1)

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 Britannica Online (an integrating resource). Guidelines for cataloging online integrating resources are available.

Electronic Edition vs. Reproduction Style Cataloging

In this document, electronic edition means an online book that is "born digital" or an online book that is a new edition of a print publication. An online book may always be cataloged as an electronic edition.

If an online book is a reproduction of another format in which the title page and the pagination of the original are preserved and copy for the source is available, the cataloger has the option to catalog the book as a reproduction.

The Adventures of Don Juan would be cataloged as an electronic edition, while Advanced Signal Processing Handbook may be cataloged as a reproduction or an electronic edition. Guidelines for cataloging online books as reproductions are available.

For electronic editions, some data elements, especially those related to content, may be derived from bibliographic records for other formats or editions.


For additional guidance, consult 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.

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 Voyager e-book core

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 Encoding Level 4, the default from Feb. 2008.

Copy Cataloging Policy: If member cataloging copy for the electronic edition is available, accept the leader coding as given in the cataloging copy. The Type of Record and Bibliographic Level codes should not be updated. When searching, prefer a record with the codes used in current cataloging, all things being equal.

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.

007 window in Voyager

Click the 007 button, select the Computer File tab and click New. Specific Material Designation is always coded r (Remote). Dimension is always coded n (Not applicable). Code other bytes appropriately. Image Bit Depth, File Format, Quality Assurance Target(s), Antecedent/Source, Level of Compression, and Reformatting Quality may be coded u (Unknown) with no further investigation unless information is readily available.

Copy Cataloging Policy: Always create an 007 for c (Computer file) if not found on cataloging copy.

006 - Additional Material Characteristics

Create an 006 to describe the format of the resource. <under review; continue to create for now>

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.

Copy Cataloging Policy: Always create an 006 for m (Computer file) if not found on cataloging copy. <not required for Core level cataloging, but still under review at Yale; continue to add 006 for now>

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. In some cases, 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. If the item bears more than one ISBN, give the one for the online format only (AACR2 1.8B2, option not applied). If the same ISBN is used for the online format and another format, supply the ISBN in subfield a if important for access, e.g., if it appears in the URL for the resource.

020     ‡a 0684314517
245 0 0 ‡a Encyclopedia of clothing and fashion ‡h [electronic resource] / ‡c Valerie Steele, editor in chief.
856 4 0 ‡3 Online book ‡u URL




In the example above, the print ISBN appears on the item but is not transcribed.

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 ‡3 Online book ‡u URL





Copy Cataloging Policy: Leave the item number if found on cataloging copy.

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 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 ‡3 Online book ‡u URL





245 0 0 ‡a Psalterion ‡h [electronic resource] = ‡b Psalterium : juxta exemplar Alexandrinum.
856 4 0 ‡3 Online book ‡u URL




Copy Cataloging Policy: The GMD computer file may appear in records created before 2001. Leave the GMD as found on cataloging copy. The GMD will be updated, if necessary, when the record is processed by MARS.

Online resources frequently display more than one form of title. Per the Yale Core guidelines,

  • Create a 246 field for any variant title (AACR2 9.7B4, 21.30J2) that may be useful for access (use judgment)
  • Code the first indicator 3; leave the second indicator blank for all variant title notes since the source of the variant is no longer required per Yale Core guidelines.
  • If the title displayed on the home page differs from the title in the HTML header, whichever one is not selected as title proper for the 245 field should generally be included in a 246 field.
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 ‡3 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. It is also transcribed without introductory wording (AACR2 1.1B1).

See Source of Titles for Internet Resources/2. Titles for Internet Resources: Primary Rules and Concepts for more information.

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.
250     ‡a Hypertext version / ‡b by Raimund Lammersdorf.
856 4 0 ‡3 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.

256 - Computer File Characteristics

This field is obsolete.

Copy Cataloging Policy: Leave if found on cataloging copy.

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. Give the name of the distributor, if different (LCRI 1.4D4).

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

Field 300 is not required in core level cataloging.

Copy Cataloging Copy: Accept the physical description as found on cataloging copy.

5XX - Notes

Under Yale Core guidelines, notes are now required only in these instances:

  • To provide the source of the title proper
  • To provide the source for the edition statement if it differs from the source of the title proper
  • To provide information about accompanying material if it is a separate online file, or a physical document

When creating original records derived from variant edition records, delete notes that do not apply to the online format. Retain notes if they also apply to the online version even if the note is not required for core level.

Order of Notes

Follow the order of notes as given here. For original cataloging, if there are situations not covered by the documentation, follow the AACR2 prescribed order of notes. It is a local decision to place the 538 note first; the decision is not technically in conflict with AACR2. When creating original records derived from variant edition records, add or modify notes in the most expeditious manner. Do not expend time and effort in rearranging notes to fit a certain style or convention.

538 - System Requirements Note

Always specify the mode of access (AACR2 9.7B1c). Do not make notes about the make or the model of the computer, the amount of memory, or the operating system required. Do not make notes about software requirements or peripherals unless they are uncommon.

245 0 4 ‡a The Collins world atlas gazetteer ‡h [electronic resource].
538     ‡a Mode of access: World Wide Web.
856 4 0 ‡3 Online book ‡u URL




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 ‡3 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 ‡3 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 1 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 ‡3 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

Not required per Core guidelines.

516 - Type of Computer File Note

Not required per Core guidelines.

530 - Other Formats Note

Not required per Core guidelines.

Copy Cataloging Policy: Delete any 530 fields for other formats found on cataloging copy if the resource is not available at Yale in the format(s) specified.

506/590 - Access Restrictions Note & Local Access Note

For licensed resources, indicate restrictions on access in a 506 field and the availability of local access in a 590 field.


245 1 0 ‡a Designing sociable robots ‡h [electronic resource] / ‡c Cynthia L. Breazeal.
506     ‡a Access restricted by licensing agreement.
590     ‡a Access is available to the Yale community.
856 4 0 ‡3 Online book ‡u URL







Do not make these notes for resources that are open access.

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 3 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, primarily to verify that the URL was transcribed accurately, since you should have checked the link before beginning to catalog. However, if the link does not work, or if it does not take you directly to the resource to be described in the bibliographic record (for example, the link sends you to a website portal or requires a log in by the user), or if the resource requires payment before the user can access it, do not proceed with cataloging until the issues are resolved. Until the problem is resolved, suppress the record from the OPAC.

245 1 0 ‡a Designing sociable robots ‡h [electronic resource] / ‡c Cynthia L. Breazeal.
856 4 0 ‡3 Online book ‡u URL



Access Points

When creating original records derived from variant edition records, check subject (6XX), name (1XX/7XX), title (7XX), and series (4XX/830) headings against the authority file for currency and accuracy.

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.

Copy Cataloging Policy: Delete any 655 fields found on cataloging copy that are for electronic formats or local headings.

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, or manufacturer (AACR2 21.30E1). Per Core guidelines, a note is not required to justify the added entry. 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.
710 2   ‡a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
856 4 0 ‡3 Online book ‡u URL





Title Added Entries and Linking Entries

Create an additional physical form entry for an item available in another format if important for access, e.g., if the title is a common word or if the print and online formats have different titles. Code the first indicator 0 to display a note. Do not create an additional 530 note. Code the second indicator 8 to suppress generation of a display constant. Instead provide explanatory text in subfield i as shown. Provide control numbers from the records for the other format(s) in separate occurrences of subfield w.


245 0 4 ‡a The Oxford companion to medicine ‡h [electronic resource] / ‡c edited by Stephen Lock, John Last, and George M. Dunea ; emeritus editors, John Walton, Paul B. Beeson, Jeremiah A. Barondess.
776 0 8 ‡i Also available in print as: ‡t The Oxford illustrated companion to medicine ‡w (DNLM)101091891 ‡w (LC)NPN2257
856 4 0 ‡3 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.

Item Record

Do not create an item record for the resource .


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. Records cataloged directly on OCLC are not part of the ExportQ workflow.


Source of Title Note for Internet Resources

Fixed Field Coding in Records for Online Resources

Cataloging Online Books (Reproductions)

Cataloging Online Integrating Resources

General Website Cataloging Policies & Procedures

[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: 27-Feb-2008 10:10 AM