ETL505 Reading a book like a cataloguer…

Source: wikipedia

Source: wikipedia

Learning how to catalogue a resource and create a bibliographic record requires a different approach to books. It’s not about reading for pleasure but instead it is about achieving a familiarity with books in order to locate the information needed and get to know the book as an information resource – whether fiction or non-fiction – so that the required elements that form the bibliographic record can be assembled efficiently.

As a cataloguer, it takes training to recognise elements and assemble them together quickly. Books have certain characteristics that are brought together to create a cataloguing record, and this takes practice. Approaching a book in this way helps the process to happen quickly and the key pieces of information are gathered together. The advantage of reading a book in such a way is that you can quickly determine what the book is about and can pass this information on to library users (Phillips, 1990).

There are many rules to learn associated with this process – even more for school libraries. Cataloguing for schools incorporates knowledge of RDA as well as the guidelines and rules developed by the Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS). These rules dictate where certain information is sourced, how that information is represented, punctuation and capitalisation requirements, subject headings and other access points etc. There is a controlled vocabulary to support this process and achieve a cataloguing standard that assists users. SCIS provides authority files and subject headings to assist library users to navigate their way efficiently to particular resources.

There is much to learn in order to maximise the potential of the library management system and help borrowers to find resources quickly. They too have much to learn.


Phillips, E. (1990) Documentation made easy. [online] Available at:

Understanding RDA



RDA Chapter 2 (with Chapter 1)

Look at the physical book.




2 Look at the physical book again

RDA Chapter 3.

Look at the physical book again. n.b. for a book, carrier type is volume; extent is number of pages; font size is a separate piece of data so gets a separate element in RDA





3 Consider the book access and acquisition

RDA Chapter 4.

Consider the book in terms of acquisition and access. e.g. contact information includes address or website of publisher





Summary so far – with example:


Note: when RDA uses “transcribe” vs “record” there are requirements in place for how the text is to be presented. This is standard across the elements.

Next: moving away from the physical item and into the work and expression.





4 Consider the content

RDA Chapter 6 (with Chapter 5).

Consider the content of the book. Some GMD information is included here.

Now… Chapter 6 deals with the Authorised Access Point for the work. Instructions for main entry are found at the end of Chapter 6.

Authorised access point

Authorised Access Point – a unifying heading that helps identify that specific work. Note the order of the name, the punctuation and the birth – death year information.



5 Consider the content again



RDA Chapter 7 (with Chapter 5).







RDA Chapters 9, 10 and 11 (with Chapter 8).





Entities by authorised access points

7 Show primary relationships



RDA Chapter 17

General Guidelines on Recording Primary Relationships. n.b. some primary relationships have to be inferred ;(




8 Show relationships between


RDA Chapters 19, 20, 21 and 22 (with Chapter 18)

RDA Relationship Elements

Top level relationships:

RDA asks for more information about the relationship between the work and the people.




Top level elements

Example of mapping RDA roles:

Note in example that composer is also a singer so is listed in the different roles… RDA maps all these relationships out.





Mapping RDA roles

9 Show relationships between



RDA Chapters 25, 26, 27 and 28 (with Chapter 24)

includes series part because this is about the relationship between this book and others in the series




Example of what the record might look like built on RDA



RDA gathers all the information together – it does not dictate what that information will look like in a specific record in a catalogue. Here is an example






Sructured expressions example

Structured descriptions example

Unstructured descriptions example









Unstructured descriptions example

10 Show relationships between



RDA Chapters 30, 31 and 32 (with Chapter 29)






Example related persons

N.B. Chapters 12-16 are place holder chapters with some information filled in. e.g. formatting geographic names












Summary of the 10 steps


Brenndorfer, T. (2012) RDA in 10 easy steps. [online]. Available at


Understanding FRBR

frbr2-25hru1h-300x180FRBR is a conceptual model to explain the bibliographic universe – it’s a way to understand the relationship between books (and other types of resources). It was a recommendation of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), in 1998, to restructure catalog databases to reflect the conceptual structure of information resources.

FRBR is a way to look at the data in bibliographic records, and it’s based on an established technique for modelling databases. The structure of RDA(Resource Description and Access) is built on the FRBR model.

FRBR asks basic questions:

  • what are the different things – the essential, separate entities – we are trying to describe in catalogues?
  • how are those different things related?

Work > the main intellectual and creative content > authorFRBR3

Expression > people who help to realise the work > editor, translator, performer

Manifestation > the publication and distribution of physical things > publisher – specific published run of a specific edition of a work

Item > owner of copy – each item/copy in our holdings, can be talked about separately from the manifestations.

Once FRBR separates out all these entities, relationships between those entities, and other entities that are responsible for them, can become easier to see. FRBR does not dictate how to encode this or display this information, it just says that these relationships exist.

User tasks:Usertasks

FRBR language:FRBR language


Brenndorfer, T. (2012) RDA in 10 easy steps. [online]. Available at

Lorenz, A. (2012) FRBR simplified. [online]. Available at