National Transportation Library
Headquarters Cataloging Policy

Cataloging policy

The DOT Library’s cataloging policy is to catalog everything acquired by the collection development committee for addition to the technical collection and only selective materials for the law collection.  Selectors are expected to exercise judgment in acquiring ephemeral materials.  The Cataloging Section may on occasion ask a selector to confirm his/her desire to add an item to the collections.
As appropriate, cataloging may take the form of a single record describing a group of items having something in common: a serial or series title, a common provenance, or a common subject. Given the resources required to create separate records, the Chief Cataloger may on occasion strongly recommend that such collective cataloging treatment be done to particular items.  Appropriate material -- material that is ephemeral or of narrow interest or intended for limited retention that might be placed in a "vertical file" or material intended for specific administrative use -- may be forwarded to Public Services without cataloging, at the request of the selector.

Material that will not be cataloged
It is the DOT Library's policy not to catalog parts of single items: chapters of books, articles from journals (either photocopies or off prints), issues of a serial that do not have their own distinctive titles, or articles clipped from newspapers. This policy is sometimes waived in the case of material in rare books, archives or other special collections when the material was acquired specifically to support the mission of an individual mode or office.  [It is the Library’s policy to acquire for its collections only legitimate authorized copies of materials.  Photocopies of material covered by copyright must be accompanied by an indication that permission to make the copy has been obtained.  These policies apply to material received as gifts, as well as to material ordered by selectors. ]

Bibliographic Policy

Bibliographic description
Original cataloging created at DOT Library follows the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, 2nd edition, (AACR2) as interpreted by the Library of Congress. The 1988 revision of the 2nd edition (amended in 1993) is currently being followed.  Records in Q series cataloged before January 1988 reflect the cataloging rules in effect at the time.  The Cataloging Section does not update these earlier bibliographic descriptions unless recataloging the entire record for some other reason.
Most records in Q series are created from records created by catalogers outside of the DOT Library (in other words copy cataloging from OCLC.)  Since these records are supposed to follow the cataloging rules in effect at the time they were created, cataloging staff do not verify these records beyond seeing that they match the item in hand and are essentially complete.   It is the Library’s policy that the database contains only one bibliographic description of a given bibliographic item.

Name headings
The Dot Library follows the AACR2 as implemented by the Library of Congress in determining the form under which each name is entered in the database.  The Library depends on the Library of Congress Authority File.  Because headings are not verified when as they are downloaded to Q series, consistency of entry depends on following Library of Congress authority. The Library will not use headings that conflict with decisions made by the Library of Congress.
The Library of Congress Authority File is dynamic, and headings do change. The Cataloging Section does try update obsolete or conflicting headings when they come to our attention. 

Subject headings
The DOT Library uses the Library of Congress Subject Headings list and follows LC practice.  The library also uses terms from the Transportation Research Thesaurus, when appropriate.  There are times when the TRT terms are actually more specific to the subject of the items being cataloged.  As with name headings, subject terminology also changes over time, the Cataloging Section makes an effort to update subject headings.

Call numbers
The DOT Library uses the Library of Congress classification schedules, and follows LC practice for the most part.  There are some variations, particularly in the surface transportation areas.   The Library’s policy is to accept the LC call number on all OCLC downloaded records.  Exceptions are made when a series or annual must retain the local derived call number.   The Chief Cataloger on a case-by-case basis makes other exceptions.

Policies regarding types of material

Computer files
Computer files regardless of the format are cataloged according to AACR2 rules and the MARC guidelines.

Government documents
Selected government documents are cataloged and classified according to LC and added to Q series. However, all depository items are checked into the piece-level with a program developed by another depository library and freely available to all.

Internet Resources
Items accessed remotely through the Internet are cataloged if the Library is paying for access and/or if a license agreement is required.  Items available free of charge and not requiring a license agreement may be cataloged by special request.  If an item is available in two or more formats, such as in print, or on a CD-ROM, the Internet version is usually cataloged separately, or it may simply be noted on the record for the other format.  These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis through consultation between the Chief Cataloger and the selector.

Loose-leaf publications
A loose-leaf publication is generally cataloged as an open entry monograph because the basic information is revised and replaced rather than added to. There are some exceptions to this when the title is judged to be a serial, such as when the intention of the publication is to add to the original information rather than revise certain data.  Two examples of serial loose leafs are when the title is issued periodically and the text consists of numbered or dated issues to be filed chronologically in binders; and, when the title is issued periodically with a basic volume covering a particular period plus pages to be interfiled into that basic volume, such as 1989 plus pages; 1990, plus pages.

Microforms are not routinely cataloged. Exceptions are made when it makes sense to catalog the information contained on the microform.  For the most part, however, microforms are shelved chronologically or by locally assigned numbers rather than by LC call numbers.

Monographic series
Monographic series are items published with both distinctive, individual titles, and a series title that is the same on each issue. These publications may be cataloged as individual items with series added entries (i.e., analyzed) or cataloged as serials under the series title, or both. If the series is analyzed, the individual items may be classified separately or classified together under the same call number.
Please note that past practice has resulted in some monographic series being cataloged exclusively as serials when cataloging for the individual items (analysis) may be desirable.  No systematic attempt is being made to analyze these series retrospectively, but the Cataloging Section will try to accommodate selectors' requests for treatment change on a case-by-case basis as special projects.

Non-book materials
Non-book materials include sound recordings, audio-visual materials such as slides, films and video recordings, and computer files.  All of these materials are fully cataloged and classified in LC.

Periodicals and Newspapers
A periodical is a continuing publication issued twice a year or more frequently. Newspapers are a type of periodical.   Periodicals are entered into the Q series serials module for tracking purposes only; they do not receive a call number.

A serial is a continuing publication issued once a year or less frequently.
Serials, generally speaking, include non-monographic items issued under the same title, with consecutive numbering or dates, and are intended to be published indefinitely—e.g., annual reports, society transactions, and yearbooks. Serials also include titles issued in frequent editions, such as directories or handbooks. All serial titles are cataloged and classified.

Recataloging is most often the result of a change in the treatment of a bibliographic item (e.g., a monograph becomes a serial) and may be initiated by the Chief Cataloger or at the request of the Public Services staff.  The Public Services staff will be notified by the Cataloging Section that there has been a change in the cataloging of a title (e.g., monograph to serial; recataloging done to resolve duplicate call numbers).

Because of cost factors (manpower and supplies), reclassification is kept to a minimum. Corrections are made when an improper classification is found to have been used and may be initiated by the Cataloging Section.
Cataloging uses the LC classification schedules.  If there is more than one appropriate classification number for an item, the Cataloging Section will use the one most likely to keep similar materials together.  The selector may request and alternate classification, which will then be discussed with the Chief Cataloger.
The Cataloging Section will edit records to reflect the transfer of materials from one holdings location to another.  This is primarily done when materials are moved from Reference to the Circulating collection.  Cataloging requires prior notice for large-scale transfers, which require considerable staff time so that the transfers can be handled as a project.

The Cataloging Section routinely edits bibliographic records to reflect withdrawn holdings, or deletes entire bibliographic records to reflect withdrawals of last copies of titles from the Library.  Cataloging requires prior notice of large-scale withdrawal projects so that staff time can be allotted.