Separate Record Cataloging Policy

At the request of the Federal Depository Library community, the Government Publishing Office, Library Services & Content Services, Library Technical Information Services (LTIS) staff has formulated a policy for creating separate records for every manifestation of a document. This policy follows an internal review of the current approach of single record cataloging. Below is LTIS’ proposed policy for metadata creation for individual formats.


In the 1980s, GPO began adding distribution notes for microfiche versions to records for the print publications. The first GPO procedures for cataloging electronic resources were developed in the early 1990’s, and focused on resources available from the Federal Bulletin Board (FBB). The FBB resources were cataloged separately from the tangible versions of those publications.  In 1995 CONSER adopted the single record approach, which is described in the CONSER Cataloging Manual module 31. GPO began applying this approach in the same year, and developed the first set of comprehensive instructions for cataloging electronic resources, Preliminary Instructions on Recording Access Information for Remotely Accessible Files. These instructions were designed to minimize the amount of time devoted to cataloging remote electronic resources because of their transitory nature, and called for the inclusion of 530 and 538 notes in the tangible record.

With GPO’s adoption of the FDSys, and its need to meet the requirements of FDSys for individual records, as well as GPO’s adoption of an integrated library system (ILS) with which GPO could finally record comprehensive holdings, GPO found a greater use for the separate records.


Depository libraries have the option of adding print holdings to their electronic resources records when desired, or creating single records on their own by adding GPO’s electronic metadata to their monograph records. Serials will retain the information about the electronic form of document in the tangible document’s record just as it looked under the single record policy, but a separate electronic record will also be created for the CGP. GPO must catalog serials this way to be in compliance with CONSER policy. Monograph records, however, will remain distinctly separate for format. A monograph record for a paper document will only contain information about the paper document.

All cataloging records will include the note “Also available in [other formats]". For example,

  • 500    Also available in microfiche and PDF.
  • 500    Also available in paper and microfiche.
  • 500    Also available in paper and HTML.

Records that GPO links to will be modified by the addition of the linking field (776) only if GPO is not distributing that document to depositories. That is, if GPO has not sent a paper document out to the FDLs, GPO will not add the 086 or the 856 to that paper record. The 776 link will be added to both the paper and the electronic record for the electronic version in order to alert users of the bibliographic record that another format is available; since GPO is not distributing the tangible format, however, other links will not be added. Any format that GPO does distribute to the FDLs will be cataloged with all of GPO’s information, i.e., the 086, the 074, etc.

GPO will not create separate records for microfiche if microfiche is used to distribute three issues or less of a document that is otherwise distributed in tangible format. In the case of a “fill” microfiche distribution, a note about the microfiche distribution for those issues will be added to the tangible document.

When GPO is cataloging electronic resources that have older cataloging copy available in OCLC and were coded type M (appropriate at that time, but no longer valid), GPO must change those type codes. In those cases, GPO is notifying OCLC and requesting that the type code be modified. If a library is requesting that an electronic resource item be cataloged, cataloging of those items may occasionally take more time to complete if that request needs to be made.

This policy will not be applied to documents already cataloged; we will not take links out of a monograph that was cataloged for both electronic and tangible formats in a single record. However, retrospective cataloging of documents will follow the new policy standard.

The policy is effective as of October 1, 2008.