Sunday, March 14, 2010

OCLC online guide

I was once asked by a library student, how much did I rely on the Anglo-American Cataloging rules in cataloging? Very rarely was my answer. Among my colleagues, there might be some who rely extensively on this guide, but, perhaps in part because I am in copy cataloging, I don't have much need for it. From my perspective, it is like a dictionary or a grammar book.

What I rely on instead is the OCLC online guide. When I first started cataloging here in 1999, I relied on a large looseleaf binder of materials put out by OCLC, but now, I find the same information by right clicking on a particular field, and then taken to that section of the OCLC website. Of course, OCLC operates within the context of the Anglo-American rules, but does so within the MARC format; the MARC format being numbered fields. Some of the Anglo-American cataloging rules might seem almost inexplicable, if minor, for example why a space before and after the colon separating the title from the subtitle of a book? In any case it is important to follow the exact format, particularly since the catalogued items are created in the form of digital records, which must then be integrated with all the other digital records of the library system.

I find the online OCLC guide to be very helpful and easier to consult than the hardcopy version I once relied upon.

Correction: the OCLC guide is actually titled Bibliographic Formats and Standards. Thank you to Dodie Gaudet.


  1. Hi Stephen:

    I noticed you haven't posted in many weeks. I'm glad that you're back.

    I think the OCLC guide you refered to is Bibliographic Formats and Standards, commonly known among catalogers as Bib Formats and Standards or BF&S. Most catalogers would probably have to think for a few minutes if you used the term "OCLC guide" before making the leap to BF&S.

    Hope I'm not being too picky.

  2. Thanks, no, not too picky. I appreciate that. Is the online guide also BF&S?