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OCLC Guidelines for Electronic Resources Robert Bremer 07 Apr 1998 14:53 UTC

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Changes in the definition of Type of Record (Leader/06) announced in
USMARC Update no. 3 have resulted in considerably different treatment of
many electronic resources.  In February 1998, OCLC issued "Cataloging
Electronic Resources:  OCLC-MARC Coding Guidelines" (also available on
the OCLC Web site at
es).  In response to requests for more information, OCLC is now issuing
the following "OCLC Guidelines on the Choice of Type and BLvl for
Electronic Resources" (also available at  This latter document,
which advises users on how to catalog and code records for electronic
resources and how to deal with existing records, includes references to
other relevant Library of Congress and CONSER documents for further
guidance.  Nancy B. Olson's "Cataloging Internet Resources:  A Manual
and Practical Guide," 2nd edition, is still available in electronic form
at You may also request a
print copy of the Olson manual at no charge from OCLC by sending an
e-mail request to  Include the title of the work, your
name, and your complete mailing address.


OCLC Guidelines on the Choice of Type and BLvl for Electronic Resources
By Jay Weitz


To guide users in applying the "Cataloging Electronic Resources:
OCLC-MARC Coding Guidelines"
ces), OCLC is issuing these supplemental general guidelines about coding
Electronic Resources.  Please recognize that the cataloging of these
materials is still very much in flux and will need further adjustment in
the future, both as problems with current practices become apparent and
as the resources themselves continue to evolve.

Some of the information in this document is based on following

*       Cataloging Internet Resources : A Manual and Practical Guide,
Second Edition / Nancy B. Olson, editor.

*       CONSER Cataloging Manual : Module 31 : Remote Access Computer
File Serials / By Melissa Beck.

*       Draft Interim Guidelines for Cataloging Electronic Resources /
Library of Congress.

*       Guidelines for Distinguishing Cartographic Materials on Computer
File Carriers From Other Materials on Computer File Carriers / Library
of Congress.

*       ISBD(ER) : International standard bibliographic description for
electronic resources / recommended by the ISBD(CF) Review Group.
(Munchen : K.G. Saur, 1997).

Each of these documents should continue to be primary sources for
guidance in the cataloging of electronic resources.  The recommendations
made here are meant to be extensions of these documents, not
replacements for them.

Choice of Type of Record and Type of File Codes

The definition of Type Code "m" for Computer File has been greatly
narrowed.  Code "m" is now used only for the following classes of
electronic resources:
*       computer software (including programs, games, fonts)
*       numeric data
*       computer-oriented multimedia
*       online systems or services
For these classes of materials, if there is a significant aspect that
causes it to fall into another Leader/06 ("Type of Record") category,
code for that significant aspect (e.g., vector data that is cartographic
is not coded as numeric but as cartographic).  Other classes of
electronic resources are coded for their most significant aspect (e.g.,
language material, graphic, cartographic material, sound, music, moving
image).  In case of doubt or if the most significant aspect cannot be
determined, consider the item a computer file.

In keeping with this current definition of Type code "m," OCLC is
recommending the following choices of Type Code and 006/008 "Type of
Computer File" values for the following categories of electronic
resources.  This hierarchical list is based on the list of file
designations in the "Cataloging Internet Resources" manual.  Included
below are resources accessible directly, such as on CD-ROMs or computer
disks, and remotely, such as from Web sites and online files.

The following resources could be monographs or serials.  The decision to
code as monograph or serial is a decision made separately from the Type
Code decision.  See the next section for guidance.  Note that for
electronic serials where type is not "a" or "m", two 006 fields will be
necessary, one for computer files and one for serials.

Computer data
Computer numeric data (Type: m,  File: a)
Computer census data (Type: m, File: a)
                Computer survey data (Type: m, File: a)
Computer text data (Type: a, 006/File: d or e)
                                Computer bibliographic database  (Type:
a, 006/File: e)
                                Computer journal(s) (e.g., journals
containing textual information) (Type: a, 006/File: d)
                                Computer newsletter(s) (e.g.,
newsletters containing textual information) (Type: a, 006/File: d)
                                Computer document(s) (e.g., other
textual material)  (Type: a, 006/File: d)
Computer image data (Type: g or k, 006/File: c)
                Computer representational data (Type: e, f, g, k, c, or
d, 006/File: c)
Computer map(s) data (Type: e or f, 006/File: c)
                                Computer music data (e.g., musical
notation or scanned images of a musical score) (Type: c or d, 006/File:
Computer sound data (e.g., MIDI files) (Type: i or j, 006/File: h)
Computer font data (Type: m, File: f)

Computer program(s) (Type: m)
Computer utility program(s) (Type: m, File: b)
Computer application program(s) (Type: m)
Computer CAD program(s) (Type: m, File: b)
Computer database program(s) (Type: m, File: b)
Computer spreadsheet program(s) (Type: m, File: b)
                                Computer word processor program(s)
(Type: m, File: b)
                                Computer desktop publishing program(s)
(Type: m, File: b)
Computer game(s) (Type: m, File: g)
Computer system program(s) (Type: m, File: b)
                                Computer operating system program(s)
(Type: m, File: b)
                                Computer programming language(s) (Type:
m, File: b)
Computer retrieval program(s) (Type: m, File: b)

Computer data and program(s)
                Computer data and program(s) (e.g., several types of
data and the software to process the data-- unable to determine
predominance) (Type: m, File: m)
Computer interactive multimedia (Type: m, File: i)
                Computer online service(s) (e.g., bulletin boards,
discussion groups/lists) (Type: m, File: j)

In records for electronic resources where the Type Code is not "m," OCLC
mandates including the field 006 for the electronic aspect so that the
"COM" search qualifier will continue to retrieve these materials.
According to LC's "Draft Interim Guidelines for Cataloging Electronic
Resources," the computer file 007 is mandatory in any record
representing an item whose carrier is a computer file.  Please follow
the separate "Cataloging Electronic Resources: OCLC-MARC Coding
Guidelines" for further details about the inclusion of fields 007 and

The General Material Designation (GMD) "[computer file]" will continue
to be used for items that are coded as Type "m."  Also use the GMD
"[computer file]" for all records that would include the computer file
006 according to the OCLC guidelines, regardless of the Type Code.

Remember that these guidelines affect mainly the choice of certain fixed
field elements, particularly the Type of Record and Type of File codes.
The descriptive rules in AACR2R Chapter 9 for cataloging electronic
resources continue to apply, as do most other MARC coding decisions.  A
remotely accessed computer file would continue to have no physical
description (300) field.  The physical description for a tangible
electronic resource would continue to describe that physical computer
file.  If other aspects of the file are deemed to be bibliographically
significant, they may be included in the File Characteristics Area (256)
or in a file characteristics or physical description note, as

Monograph or Serial

Apply the current AACR2 definitions of monograph and serial to
electronic resources.  Treat as serials (Bibliographic Level: s (or b))
only those indeterminate works issued in separate, designated parts.
The parts may constitute an issue, or in some cases, an individual

Applying the current AACR2R definitions may result in different
manifestations receiving different cataloging treatment.  For example, a
manifestation in print form, such as an annual directory, is cataloged
as a serial whereas it is cataloged as a monograph when the directory
takes on the form of an electronic file that is continuously updated.
This practice may change, but for the present LC and CONSER adhere to
current definitions, and OCLC recommends its users do the same.
Remotely accessed electronic resources of a dynamic nature that are
currently excluded from serial treatment are:
*       Databases (including directories, A&I services, etc.)
*       Electronic discussion groups (e.g., SERIALST)
*       Electronic discussion group digests (e.g., AUTOCAT digest)
*       Gopher servers (e.g., LC-MARVEL)
*       Online public access catalogs (e.g., OCLC, RLIN)
*       Online services (e.g., America Online)
*       Web sites (e.g., the CONSER home page)
These electronic resources should be treated as monographs.

For further guidance on coding serials see:  Use of fixed fields and
Leader codes in CONSER records / Library of Congress.

Dealing With Existing Records

Please report to OCLC any needed Type and/or BLvl code changes, as well
as any other changes to existing WorldCat records, either by phone,
paper, or electronically, as appropriate (see "Bibliographic Formats and
Standards," 2nd ed., p. 63-72 in paper form or electronically).  OCLC would
prefer that you not add duplicate records in these instances.  WorldCat
Database Enrichment currently allows Full Mode users and above to add
field 006 and/or 007 to most records through lock and replace (see
"Cataloging User Guide," 2nd ed., chapter 6 and OCLC Technical Bulletin
no. 212, p. 33 or

OCLC recognizes that the conversion of existing records for electronic
resources is a significant issue for many groups within the OCLC
membership.  Unfortunately at this time, with limited resources and with
many other important projects underway, such a conversion does not
currently have a schedule.  It is not known when this situation will

1998 March 23

Jay Weitz
Consulting Database Specialist
OCLC Online Computer Library Center
MC 141
6565 Frantz Road
Dublin, Ohio  43017-3395

Phone:  614-764-6156
Fax:    614-718-7195