Library of Congress

Program for Cooperative Cataloging

The Library of Congress > Cataloging, Acquisitions > PCC > BIBCO > BIBCO Core Record Standards

The BIBCO core level record standard is provided for reference, but has been retired as a standard for PCC BIBCO records. 

In 2010, the BIBCO program replaced its “full” and “core” record standards by the single encoding level:  BIBCO Standard Record (BSR).  The BSR for Textual monographs was implemented on January 1, 2010, and BSRs for other types of materials were implemented October 1, 2010.

Records created under the full and core standards carried encoding levels “blank” for full and “4” for core.  BIBCO records in OCLC that were created under the earlier standards will continue to carry these encoding levels.  The encoding level “4” is still valid in OCLC.

All BSR records carry the encoding level “blank.”


1. Background

The Core Record Standard for Books was defined in 1994 by a Task Group appointed by the Cooperative Cataloging Council, now known as the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC). The Task Group was charged to develop cost-effective bibliographic standards that would be acceptable to a wide range of libraries. The PCC has endorsed the core record standard as one facet of its strategy to facilitate a national cooperative cataloging program that can help provide "faster, better, cheaper" cataloging.

Each of the subsequent Core Record Standards was developed by Task Groups of specialists in the cataloging of non-book format and non-Roman alphabet materials. In 2002, the PCC Standing Committee on Standards completed an extensive project to review the original core record standards and to harmonize their contents, language, and presentation style. Differences in requirements among the various cores were retained when deemed appropriate. The Core Record Standard for Cartographic Materials was developed while this core standard harmonization effort was in process.

2. Benefits

The core record standard specifies a minimum set of data elements below which the PCC has agreed program records will not go. However, the standard itself can be used by any library, BIBCO participant or not. Records which lack this minimum set of MARC fields (BIBCO or not), cannot be considered to be core records and should not be labeled as such.

The core record standard was designed specifically to be used within the context of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging's national cataloging program (BIBCO) and to support the goals of the program to provide cost-effective cataloging that meets commonly accepted standards. Core records created within the BIBCO program have two benefits over minimal-level records.:

  • Authority Control:

    Headings on all BIBCO core records are supported by national level authority records except for some not-yet-established series that can be used in core records. All BIBCO participants are also participants in NACO and SACO. Consequently, BIBCO core records can be accepted without having to establish headings.

  • Bibco Training:
    BIBCO records are created by catalogers who have received BIBCO training. This training emphasizes the use of cataloger judgment when working with the core record standard. One of the goals of BIBCO training is to help catalogers develop the judgment to determine when and how to use the core record standards.

As a consequence of these guarantees, BIBCO core records should prove beneficial to all libraries, whether or not they are BIBCO participants. Since they are easily recognizable and very predictable in terms of content, BIBCO core records can make the organization of copy-cataloging workflow easier and lessen the need for authority work

3. Application

Each core record standard includes a list of fields required if the record is to be labelled a core record. There is no guarantee that the mere presence of all of the required fields will produce a high-quality record. For core records to be high quality records, they will need to be created by properly trained catalogers exercising good judgment. Whenever a cataloger judges that a field that is not required by the core record standard is nonetheless clearly necessary to create a useful record, include that field in the bibliographic record.

Of course, one of the goals in the development of the core record standards was to enable libraries to produce more records faster and cheaper. Thus, it would be wise to use the following rule of thumb: when in doubt about the usefulness of adding a non-core field in a core record, leave it out. When using existing program records for copy-cataloging, one should use the opposite rule of thumb: when in doubt about the usefulness of a non-core field present in a core record, leave it in.

4. Identification

The MARC 21Format for Bibliographic Data defines an encoding level (Leader/17) value of "4" for core records. PCC BIBCO core records can be recognized by the presence of an encoding level of "4" to indicate core and the presence of "pcc" in field 042 to indicate that the record was created by a BIBCO library. Although non-BIBCO libraries can use the core level standard and the corresponding encoding level of "4", only records created by BIBCO libraries will include an 042 value of "pcc." The Library of Congress uses the value "pcc" to indicate that records in a CIP state (encoding level "8") issued by the Library have been done at core level. When one of these records is updated based on the published item, the encoding level is changed to "4".

5. Books and Rare Books

The overall intent of the Core Record Standard for Books is also considered appropriate for rare books except for a few differences called for in Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Books (DCRB). These differences are noted in the footnotes.

As its name indicates, the Core Record Standard for Rare Books (DCRB) is to be applied to books whose dates range from 1500-1800. This explicitly excludes books printed before 1500 (incunabula), which should be cataloged as fully as appropriate. Alternatively, this does not exclude books printed after 1800, which may be cataloged according to the principles of DCRB, in keeping with the practices of the owning institution. Catalog records for books that reflect the DCRB Core standard must contain the designation "dcrb" in subfield $e of field 040.

For rare books, the commitment, on the cataloger's part, is to render bibliographic details of the book as accurately as possible insofar as they are presented by the specimen in hand; also, to ensure that they are scrupulously stated, according to the provisions of DCRB. The strength of DCRB is that it provides for "expanded coverage" of books deserving such treatment; by inversion, it is possible to use those provisions for expansion as guidelines for trimming. By omitting most notes (except for those deemed essential for clarity or clarification or to aid in identification and/or retrieval) and by taking the options given in DCRB to abbreviate descriptive areas or by not taking the options to expand the same areas, an effective, DCRB-oriented core record can be created. For a summary of options read the DCRB list of optional rules.

6. Electronic Resources

MARC 21 coding conventions for electronic resources call for treating computer software (including programs, games, fonts), numeric data, computer-oriented multimedia and online systems or services as computer files (Leader/06 code 'm'). Other classes of electronic resources are coded for their most significant aspect (for example, language material, graphic, cartographic material, sound, music, moving image). Follow the requirements of the core record standard for the appropriate material type. In addition, include the following fields from the Core Record Standard for Electronic Resources, if applicable: 007, 245$h, 300, 538, 500: Source of Title Proper, 856. Add any other data element that may be required by a local system or a bibliographic utility.

7. Collections

The Core Record Standard for Collections provides guidelines for collection-level cataloging, a mode of cataloging designed to accommodate materials treated collectively, i.e., materials treated as a group rather than cataloged individually. Such groupings consist of materials exemplifying characteristics from various perspectives: that of provenance/collector; that of category or type of material; that of the format or carrier in which the material is presented; that of the mode of issuing (monograph/serial).

The emphasis in this standard is upon collection-level treatment, particularly as a means of providing access to materials that may not otherwise be represented in the bibliographic spectrum at all. This does not preclude, however, individual items from being cataloged individually. That is a judgment to be made by the cataloging agency, as is also the judgment whether to relate individually cataloged items to the collective entity, and if so, the technique to use in stating that relationship.

A collection-level record will almost always describe a made-up collection. Consequently, its utility is not for record sharing but for identifying and providing access to resources. The data elements listed in the Core Record Standard for Collections may be used to describe and provide access to materials treated as collections for purposes of bibliographic control. In the judgment of the cataloger or the cataloging institution: 1) the individual items do not merit full cataloging treatment; 2) there is a need to provide expedient/timely access to the material, or 3) access to the items can be appropriately managed through supplementary means such as finding aids. Material controlled through collection level cataloging should exhibit some identifiable, collective organizing principle, exemplified by, but not limited to, the following:

  • off-prints of articles by one author;
  • reports, etc., issued by a specific corporate body;
  • materials created by an individual or corporate body;
  • materials collected by an individual or corporate body;
  • materials that exhibit a common theme/subject or type.

If a collection consists solely of materials whose carriers or mode of issuing calls for special description to convey the means of access or characteristics specific to that type of material, include any data elements from the appropriate BIBCO or CONSER core record standard, if one exists, judged useful in describing the material. (Some examples are electronic resources, audio-visual material such as sound recordings, videocassettes, material that is serial in nature.) By the same token, this optional provision may be applied to a mixed collection if that collection contains instances of such materials.

A collection-level record may also be used to describe entities issued as collections, such as certain microform sets or aggregator databases.

8. Cartographic Materials

This standard is intended to be applied to all cartographic materials of a monographic nature, including but not limited to sheet maps, map series, atlases, globes, CD-ROMs, and remote-accessed cartographic items. The materials to be cataloged fall under the scope of Chapter 3 in AACR2. Note that this also includes historical or rare maps and atlases as well as contemporary titles. For map serials see Section 4.7, Core Record for Cartographic Materials in CONSER Record Requirements for Full, Core, and Minimal Level Records.

9. Guidelines for Multiple Character Sets [Superseded by Guidelines for Creating Bibliographic Records in Multiple Character sets April 28, 2010 (PDF, 576 KB)

Program records are encoded in a basic complement of character sets referred to in these guidelines as the "Latin base" (ASCII, ANSEL, Greek characters alpha, beta, gamma, MARC 21 subscript, MARC 21 superscript). These supplementary guidelines provide for including additional data in non-Latin form encoded in other character sets designated for use in MARC 21 records. Such records consist of data encoded in multiple character sets.

The decision to include data in non-Latin form is purely local; there is no PCC requirement to include such data in a catalog record. Catalogers adding data in non-Latin form to records are encouraged to consider the future use and international implications of their records and to include as much of the original script data as necessary to facilitate the identification and location of this often scarce material and its component parts.

In all cases PCC libraries must include in Latin form all of the data elements as specified in the core standard for the type of material being cataloged. Although the decision to include data in non-Latin form in any PCC record is strictly optional, when that option is exercised, it must be done so according to these supplementary guidelines, i.e., BIBCO core records created for monographic materials must simultaneously conform to both the relevant core record standard(s) and these guidelines. The standard for multiple character sets applicable to serials is found in the CONSER documentation.

The PCC Standing Committee on Standards is aware of the problems associated with the romanization of headings and the current developments underway as of this writing to allow for non-Latin equivalent references in authority records. The romanized form of a heading will be the established form and therefore must be used in core records and must be in current AACR2 form using ALA/LC romanization rules. Whether the non-Latin equivalents of headings are added as references to the authority record or not, they may be supplied in bibliographic records. National level authority records must be used and/or created to support the romanized form of the established headings. National level authority records created by NACO libraries are currently able to support references in non-Latin form as of July 2008.

When supplying a non-Roman heading which contains a personal, corporate, or geographic name (either by itself, or in combination with a title or a subject subdivision) input it as a field linked to the Roman equivalent. Geographic subject headings may be input as paired fields. Translations of subject headings MAY be input but must be done so in a manner that clearly indicates they are non-standard (uncontrolled index terms (field 653) or identified as "source not specified" (6XX with second indicator "4")).

MA = Mandatory if applicable

Non-Roman Form

245: Title Statement MA (1)
246: Varying form of Title MA
250: Edition Statement MA
260: Publication, Distribution, etc. (Imprint) MA
4XX: Series Statements/Headings (35)
505: Formatted Contents Note (2)  

  1. Abridgement of the title proper or other title information is according to the cataloging rules. In any such abridgement, that of the non-roman data must parallel that of the roman data.
  2. Give contents according to the specifications of the appropriate PCC monographic core record standard. Contents for multipart items with separate titles may, by exception, be given in non-Roman form only.

10. Structure

The core record standards consist of two parts: a chart showing various elements and their requirements and a list of explanatory footnotes. As part of the core record standard harmonization process, the PCC SCS prepared a chart comparing all of the standards. It was felt that presenting such a chart as part of the core record standards documentation would help PCC catalogers easily see the similarities and differences among the various cores. It was also deemed to be a good training tool. There is a single set of footnotes whose numbering refers to the combined chart. Note that in many cases the same footnote applies to more than one of the core record standards.

In addition to the combined chart, each core record standard is presented separately. This is to aid catalogers who are concerned primarily with a single material type. Note, however, that the combined list of footnotes and their numbering is to be used with each individual core record standard as well as with the combined chart.

11. Changes

Some of the core record standards originally contained introductory statements (Rare Books, Monographic Computer Files, now Electronic Resources, Collections, and Cartographic Materials). These statements have been edited, as necessary, and are now presented as sections of the general introduction.

The Supplementary Core Record Standard for Multiple Character Sets is no longer presented as an individual core record standard. Instead, it has been incorporated as guidelines into the general introduction as section nine.