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Cataloging Toolbox for U.S. Federal Government Information

RDA: Resource Description and Access

RDA: Resource Description and Access is the cataloging standard followed by GPO, Library of Congress, and the Program for Cooperative Cataloging, first implemented in 2013. It is a subscription resource published by the American Library Association via the RDA Toolkit..

  • RDA Toolkit is "package of data elements, guidelines, and instructions for creating library and cultural heritage resource metadata that are well-formed according to international models for user-focused linked data applications." 
  • RDA Steering Committee publishes RDA and oversees new developments and the content of RDA.
  • The North American RDA Committee (NARDAC) is the entity responsible for representing the North American region (Bermuda, Canada, Greenland, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and the United States of America) on the RDA Steering Committee. NARDAC members are appointed by the American Library Association, the Canadian Committee on Cataloguing, and the Library of Congress.
  • RDA Board oversees RDA content and policies and the work of the RDA Steering Committee. RDA is  joint venture between the American Library Association, Canadian Federation of Library Associations and Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. 

Library of Congress

Library of Congress (LC) Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Directorate provides access to many standards for bibliographic description, subject analysis and classification and links to its catalog and authority file.

  • LC develops and hosts many useful sources and standards for cataloging, including manuals and policies created for their own catalogers which are an excellent resource for the public.
  • LC hosts the PCC and MARC Standards websites.

Library of Congress, Program for Cooperative Cataloging Policy Statements (LC-PCC PS) are provided free online.

Catalogers Desktop is a subscription resource for global cataloging tools, standards, guides, and searchable discussion boards.

Web Dewey is a subscription resource for the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) System. Links to free online resources hosted by OCLC Dewey Services, which works in collaboration with the Library of Congress on updates and maintenance of the classification.

GPO Cataloging Standards

The GPO Cataloging Guidelines published by the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) is regularly updated. This page provides a List of all the cataloging standards GPO follows when creating metadata.

  • GPO is a participant of the Program for Cooperative Programming (PCC) and creates cataloging records and metadata at the highest U.S. national standards.

Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC)

Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) PCC is a cooperative cataloging venture wherein members contribute bibliographic records and related data under a common set of standards and conventions using the bibliographic utilities. PCC members like the Government Publishing Office (GPO) contribute high quality records and subject proposals conforming to approved standards. The four PCC programs are:

  • BIBCO - Monograph records. Includes standards such as the BIBCO Standard Record.
  • CONSER - Continuing resource records. Provides the CONSER Cataloging Manual.
  • NACO - Name authority records. Provides FAQs for authority work. Links to the LC Descriptive Cataloging Manual DCM Z1 and LC Guidelines Supplement to MARC 21 Format for Authorities Data.
  • SACO - Subject authority records​. Provides approved LC subject and classification lists and editorial summaries. Also provides the SACO Participants' Manual and an excellent reference resource list for subject heading proposals.


OCLC Bibliographic Formats and Standards is a MARC 21 guide for catalogers or users of MARC 21 bibliographic records in OCLC Connexion.It provides many examples of MARC fields and subfields, explanation, and inputting standards for OCLC member libraries. Use this standard with MARC 21 standards.

Directory of OCLC Libraries - find an OCLC participating library or its symbol. Also search for part of a name, city, etc. and sort results or limit them to only OCLC members. Some federal agency symbols:

  • GPO - U.S. Government Publishing Office
  • DLC - Library of Congress
  • GIS - U.S. Geological Survey National Office

Librarian's Toolbox, OCLC

OCLC WorldCat is a suite of services and databases, also called a bibliographic utility. The catalog interface is called OCLC Connexion. OCLC is a tool used by GPO and most libraries. 

OCLC Connexion Documentation provides support, help, and training documents.  Find out how specific indexes are configured to improve searching in WorldCat!

MARC Standards

Understanding MARC -- these brief descriptions and tutorials are appropriate for non-catalogers.

MARC Standards are published by the Library of Congress Network Development and MARC Standards Office. Includes standards for MARC concise format records for bibliographicauthorityholdingsclassification, and community information, with a link to translations. The following guide provides an overview: Understanding MARC Bibliographic: Machine-Readable Cataloging.

MARC Code Lists

MARC specifications, documentation and development tools are also available.


International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD)

International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD) is maintained with updates by the IFLA Universal Bibliographic Control and International MARC Programme. Designed to be compliant with the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR), the ISBD consolidated edition merges the texts of the seven specialized ISBDs (for books, maps, serials, sound recordings, computer files and other electronic resources, etc.) into one.

Authority Standards

  • Library of Congress Authorities, provides a public interface for searching the national authority file (authority records) for names, subjects, and titles. Displays MARC authority records, but also may be used by the general public to distinguish Authorized Headings from References (form not used.' For example, it's very helpful for distinguishing best search terms for subjects such as World War II.
  • Library of Congress Linked Data Service provides interactive and machine access to commonly used ontologies, controlled vocabularies, and other lists for bibliographic description. The public display of authorized headings and references categorize vocabularies with easy-to-understand labels.
  • U.S. Geological Survey ORCID website provides a good description of this identifier used by many federal agencies and libraries..

IFLA Conceptual Models for the Bibliographic Universe

Conceptual Models

  • IFLA Library Reference Model (LRM) has been adopted as the fundamental conceptual model for the beta RDA cataloging standard. 
  • IFLA Bibliographic Conceptual Models -- Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) and Functional Requirements for Authority Data (FRAD) were fundamental conceptual models in the development of RDA, first released in 2013., Other models include Functional Requirements of Subject Authority Data  (FRSAD) and Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records – Object Oriented (FRBRoo)


ANSI/NISO Standards

ANSI/NISO Standards are American National Standards developed by the National Information Standards Organization.