Collection-Level Cataloging (RDA)


            Occasionally it may be advantageous to catalog separately published items as a group, creating one catalog record for the entire collection rather than cataloging them individually. The decision to make such a collection level catalog record should reflect a request or consultation with a selector, motivated by the assumption that the items in question do not require individual cataloging. In general, items considered for collection level records will have the following characteristics:


1.      They will generally be obscure, possibly ephemeral materials not already owned by SUL. They will rarely exceed 75 pages in length. Examples of such items may be pamphlets, offprints, leaflets, broadsides, etc.


2.      They should reflect a resource interest in a subject, particularly an issuing agency, or a personal author (e.g., a collection on the subject of Africa, miscellaneous publications of the Ford Foundation, or a group of articles by Mircea Eliade).


3.      Occasionally, a bound volume of pamphlets, etc., may be accessioned in bulk acquisitions, e.g., the Mikov Collection, and it is expedient to process them as a unit. It is highly probable that such volumes will often meet the two criteria elaborated above.

A collection-level record may also be used to describe entities issued as collections, such as certain microform sets, aggregator databases, digital collections, or printouts of digital collections. For cataloging printouts of internet resources or a collection of internet resources downloaded onto CD-ROM, see Cataloging Printouts of Digital Materials. For cataloging bulk collections of ca. 500 or more volumes, see the policy document on Collections Processing.


If complete serial pieces are found in such collections of items, notify the Serials Access & Maintenance Unit in the Acquisitions Dept. Additionally, the inclusion of offprints in such collections should be evaluated against the SUL policy which proscribes cataloging offprints of articles that are contained in serial issues owned by the Library.


If the size of the collection is too large, it may be desirable to divide the items according to arbitrary criteria, such as date of publication, etc., and create two or more bibliographic records.


Characteristics of the Collection-Level Record


            SUL policy is to catalog collections at Encoding Level 4 (Enc_Lvl 4). Do not include field 042, as collection-level records will not be contributed as BIBCO records. At the discretion of a selector in exceptional circumstances, some collections may be processed at Encoding Level 3 (Enc_Lvl 3). Level 3--Print monographs guidelines may be consulted online. For more details on collection-level cataloging, consult Descriptive Cataloging Manual (DCM) C14.


Fixed Fields: Should be coded in the regular fashion. If any item in the collection justifies the use of a fixed field (e.g., ‘Cont: b’), the appropriate code is used. Particular fields to watch for are:


Enc_Lvl: Code as ‘4’ (for ‘core level’ cataloging) or ‘3’ (for ‘abbreviated level’) as appropriate.


Rec_Type (06 in the Leader): Code as ‘a’ (for ‘printed language material’).


Bib_Lvl (07 in the Leader): Code as ‘c’ (for ‘collection’).


Desc: Code as ‘i’ (for ‘ISBD punctuation included’).


Source: Code as ‘d’ (for ‘other’).

Ctry: Provide the code for the country (or state, province, etc.) if the items were published in a single country. If the items were published in more than one country, the code ‘vp’ is given. The code ‘xx’ is used if all the items are unpublished, or if the place of publication is unknown.

For Level 3: Same as above.

Dat_Tp: Supply the appropriate code. Options are: ‘i’ (inclusive dates of collection),and ‘k’ (range of years of bulk of collection).

For Level 3: Same as above.

Date1/Date2: Include either a single date or use the earliest and latest dates in a range as appropriate.

For Level 3: Same as above.

Lang: Use the appropriate code for the language or the primary language of the collection.

For Level 3: Same as above.


Note: these captions are the ones used in Symphony; they are similar to the ones used in   



Variable Fields:


  040: Add $b eng and $e rda.


  050: (LC classification number. Set the second indicator to ‘4’) The LC classification number assigned should reflect the general subject area of a collection  and will reflect the subject hierarchy if subject headings are present. Generally class items by one author in the general number for the author’s specialty (e.g., class a collection of articles by Max Planck in general physics). Class a collection of items issued by a corporate body that are about that corporate body in the ‘societies’ number for the subject area that represents the scope of the body’s activities if such a number is provided for in the schedules. Otherwise, class in a general number for the discipline or according to the subject hierarchy. Cutter according to conventional practice. Do not add date to the call number.

For Level 3: Same as above.


1XX: Make personal or corporate main entry if appropriate (i.e., a collection of items by one author, or items issued by a corporate body per RDA and LC-PCC PS Formulate access points not found in the NAF according to RDA and the LC-PCC PSs, and contribute them to the NAF. Use appropriate relationship designators from RDA Appendix I.

For Level 3: No NACO.


245: The title will either be one devised by the cataloger or the binder’s title. Follow the usual conventions in regard to tracing and indicators.

A)    Cataloger-devised title (RDA This type of title will be the most common. The title should be formulated to represent the largest common theme in the group of publications, as well as the nature of the resource (e.g., Collection of pamphlets on molusca). No 500 note is needed to justify the title.

B)    Binder’s title: A title supplied by the cataloger may be preferred if the binder’s title is not sufficiently descriptive. If the binder’s title is used and is not sufficiently clear, add a 500 note describing the contents. Note: if the binder’s title is not used as the title proper, it should be included in field 246 (see below).

For Level 3: Same as above.


246: Include variant forms of title by which a collection may be known. Such variants might include a binder’s title (e.g., 246 1# |iBinder’s title:|aTitle).

For Level 3: Same as above.


264: All elements of the imprint area may be included if appropriate. Normally, due to the fact that the items in a collection are published in multiple locales, only subfield c will be used. Leave the first indicator blank and code the second indicator '1' for published materials. For other situations, consult the MARC 21 format for bibliographic data. Give the date of publication or the range of dates as appropriate. These are the dates to be entered into the Date1 and Date2 fields.

For Level 3: Same as above.


300: For extent of item, give the number of pieces in the collection, using the appropriate carrier type (RDA If items are bound together (i.e., they were purchased already bound or were bound prior to cataloging), give the number of volumes followed by the number of items in parentheses (e.g., 3 volumes (183 items)).

Use the normal ‘illustrations’ designation procedure. Data regarding other physical details may be given according to the appropriate chapters of RDA, etc., if considered important.

Dimensions:  Height is noted as a range from the smallest to the largest piece (e.g., 19-25 cm). If the items are bound together, give the dimension of the bound volumes. If the items are not bound together, give the height as a range from the smallest to the largest piece (e.g., 19-25 cm). Method of designation should be decided on a case-by-case basis.

For Level 3: Only provide subfield a (extent of item).


336: For RDA content type from Add $2 rdacontent.


337: For RDA media type from Add $2 rdamedia.


338: For RDA carrier type from Add $2 rdacarrier.


5XX: Use as necessary to note scope, contents, provenance, restrictions and access, etc. For example, it might be desirable to make a note describing the nature of the collection when the title does not adequately describe the content of the collection and the subject headings are broad.

For Level 3: Same as above.


505: Code the first indicator as ‘0’ for complete contents or ‘2’ for partial contents as appropriate. List each item in the collection in the 505.

FORMAT: List the titles in bound volumes in the order of the binding. For unbound collections, list the items in chronological order, with a bracketed number preceding each title. Elements may include title, statement of responsibility, edition, and the date of publication (e.g., [4] The study of Venus (1833) – [5]…). If no publication date is available from the piece, follow RDA 1.9.2 in formulating a date, i.e. give a probable date with a question mark, etc. Use the titles on the pieces; for instructions regarding fullness of transcription, see LC-PCC PS Do not transcribe statement of responsibility if all titles are by one author.

For Level 3: Transcribe titles and statements of responsibility only.


6XX: Subject analysis is intended to be broad, reflecting the nature of the collection. Apply subject headings as appropriate, but if more that three subject headings might be called for to bring out different facets of the collection, prefer a broader, more inclusive, single subject heading.

For Level 3: Use subject keywords in field 653. These keywords should reflect the subject nature of the entire collection.


7XX: Make added entries as appropriate to cover primary relationships associated with the collection as a whole (e.g., a collection of works by the same two authors would result in a 1XX entry for one author and a 7XX added entry for the other). Any access points not in the NAF should be submitted through NACO. Use appropriate relationship designators from RDA Appendix I.  

For Level 3: Same as above, except that unestablished headings will not be established in the NAF.



End Processing


Use ‘F’ or ‘FF” in the call number to indicate folio, as with books, if the largest item in the collection meets the criteria. Do not use ‘T’ to indicate tiny size, since items will either be bound or placed in a box measuring more that 15 cm. See the policy document on Call numbers--Size designation.


Created: Oct. 12, 1988

John Mustain and Willy Cromwell, Stanford University

Updated: June 13, 2003

RJR, MDU, Stanford University

Last updated: Feb. 26, 2013

RJR, MDU, Stanford University



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