For some time it has been the intent of the Cataloging Policy and Support Office (CPSO) to develop conceptual guidelines for the cataloging of electronic resources. In late 1996, stimulated by increased activities in the area of digitization, CPSO invited a small group of Library of Congress staff members to develop interim guidelines for cataloging electronic resources. The initial draft of the guidelines are now available for comment. The guidelines have been reviewed within LC by representatives of the units most directly concerned with cataloging electronic manifestations, particularly by the staff members from LC's special format divisions, who have been involved for some time with materials that LC is digitizing from its own collections. Additional consultations were held with Copyright Office staff, and changes were made to some of the terminology that had originally been proposed to accommodate the copyright perspective.
The purpose of the Draft Interim Guidelines (PDF: 48 p.; 714K) is to establish an interim set of guidelines to be used for cataloging electronic resources in the Library of Congress based on a common conceptual context and a common terminology. The intent of the guidelines is to apply to resources of divergent character produced under varying circumstances and managed by different entities, a set of conventions for bibliographic control that will enable generalized, standard practice to the extent judged practicable in a diverse, dynamic environment. The guidelines attempt to be more than just a "how to" manual. They also endeavor to engage the electronic world on a broader scale by providing the beginning of a conceptual framework for treating electronic resources. This framework is followed by the establishment and definition of concepts and terms appropriate to electronic resources in an attempt to ensure clear communication based on a common understanding. The guidelines then include:
- policies on when to use multiple records and when to use a single record;
- conventions developed especially for the single-record technique;
- directions for indicating the existence of other physical formats;
- directions related to electronic location;
- directions relating to collocating records and linking them;
- directions relating to identifying records related to specific projects.
The one obvious lacuna in the current document is the absence of guidelines relating to the treatment of Internet resources--particularly with respect to which ones should be represented in the catalog, under what circumstances, and in what detail. This is because the collection development guidelines for remotely accessed electronic resources are only now beginning to be formulated by staff designated for this purpose. Thus the issues related to cataloging these materials have not been fully confronted.
The Draft Interim Guidelines are structured and presented as a unit of the LC Descriptive Cataloging Manual, one of the official forms of documentation used to provide guidance to LC catalogers (the format may be unfamiliar to many outside of LC).