GPO Cataloging Guidelines


Cataloging/Metadata Policy-making Process

Cataloging Policy and Documentation Committee (CPDC)

The Cataloging Policy and Documentation Committee (CPDC) is the group in LTS that determines new and modified cataloging/metadata policies and procedures, such as additions, revisions, and supersessions, to current GPO Cataloging Guidelines (CGs). The CPDC documents and records those decisions and communicates those changes to LTS staff members and the Federal Depository Library Program community. LSCM management and the CPDC collaborate closely to chart the direction of GPO’s cataloging/metadata policies and to maintain the currency of the CGs. The charter of the CPDC delineates its mission and governance.

The CPDC chair collects and solicits proposals for new policies and revisions to existing policies. The chair schedules the committee meetings, compiles the meeting agendas from the submitted proposals, and manages the meetings.

The CPDC meets bi-weekly. The agenda is sent to all staff, who are asked for their comments and input. At the meetings, the CPDC discusses each item and tries to reach a consensus or majority decision. The Chief of LTS informs LTS staff of the revisions and/or additions by email and internal announcements. As needed, the CPDC chair updates the List of Major Revisions on the internal site and requests the Web Team to post the new version of the spreadsheet on the public Cataloging Guidelines website.

GPO Cataloging Guidelines Review and Revision Processes

This section describes the procedures by which the GPO creates and updates cataloging/metadata policies and procedures and documents those decisions in the GPO Cataloging Guidelines (CGs). This section also describes how the CPDC considers additions and revisions to the GPO Cataloging Guidelines (CGs), records decisions, and communicates new and changed policies to LTS staff and the FDLP community.

  • Proposals for new sections, chapters, and text or revisions to existing CGs
    • Proposals are submitted to the CPDC chair.
    • Examples include:
      • New/modified national standards instructions and how they accord with GPO policies and practices
      • Initiatives from LSCM management
      • Recommendations and innovations contributed by staff
      • Suggestions and observations from Federal depository library staff
      • Developments in the world of government information products, information science sphere, and the library and archival professions
      • Technological advances and transitions
  • Meetings
    • The CPDC will endeavor to review and decide on proposals in up to three meetings. The committee may reach consensus in less than three meetings.
      • When a major revision or policy issue is on the agenda, the CPDC will hold additional meetings, generally not to exceed a total of five meetings.
    • The submitter of a proposal is responsible for all stages of the review process:
      • Submission of the draft proposal to the chair
      • Preparation of a draft proposal and accompanying materials before the meeting if at all possible
      • Presentation at the meetings and leading the discussion
      • Revision of the draft proposal based on the recommendations and suggestions of the CPDC members and LTS staff members
      • Completion of the new text for the CGs site on
      • Capturing the current section(s) to be replaced by the new text in a Word document and saving the document on the internal site
      • Submission of the request to the Web Team to update the CGs site
      • Drafting the text of an LSCM news alert if needed
    • Agendas
      • The agenda is sent to all LTS staff members and comments and recommendations are invited.
      • The meetings are open to all LSCM staff.
    • First Meeting
      • Introduction of the proposal and initial discussion
      • Recommendations and suggestions for further research and/or consideration of the proposal and changes to the text
    • Second Meeting
      • Circulation of the revised proposal before the second meeting if at all possible
      • Presentation of the revised proposal
      • Continuation of the discussion
    • Third Meeting
      • Circulation of the final proposal before the third meeting if at all possible
      • Presentation and discussion of the final proposal
    • Final Decision
      • The CPDC will strive to reach a consensus decision.
      • When the CPDC cannot reach a consensus, the chair consults with the Chief of LTS and requests a decision from the Chief.
      • When the Chief does not make a decision, the chair tables the proposal.
      • The chair may include the proposal on the agenda of a future meeting.
      • Decisions with significant impact on LTS operations and policies are enumerated in the List of Major Revisions, which is updated and posted on
        • In the cases of very significant revisions, LSCM may issue news alerts to solicit recommendations and feedback from the FDLP community or to announce the implementation of the revised guidelines.
      • Minutes are posted on the internal site.

GPO Cataloging Guidelines: Organization and Structure

The general organization of the GPO Cataloging Guidelines are organized in chapters based on several criteria:

  • Areas of cataloging
    • Bibliographic cataloging
    • Name authorities
    • Subject cataloging
  • Modes of issuance
    • Monographs
    • Continuing resources
  • Specific formats of publications
    • Audiovisual
    • Cartographic
    • Computer files
    • Microfiche
  • Types of the resources
    • Congressional publications
    • Public and private laws
    • Technical reports
    • Treaties

The Overview chapter lays out the overarching principles of GPO’s cataloging/metadata creation and maintenance procedures and practices.The main organizational scheme of the other chapters follows the structure of the MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data and the MARC 21 Format for Authority Data. The chapters based on the MARC fields structure are sometimes introduced by an overview section and are usually subdivided into sections on the fixed fields and variable fields.

The Cataloging Guidelines are designed to proceed from general to specific guidance. When consulting and searching the Guidelines, make certain to view all relevant sections. For example, when reviewing guidance in the General MARC Field Policies chapter, also check the pertinent specific mode of issuance chapter and format chapter. As often as possible, linked references are provided to direct users to related chapters and sections of the guidelines and other cataloging/metadata standards and documentation.


The examples are intended to illustrate the guidelines. They are not meant to act as actual instructions. Please do not create or update bibliographic records solely based on the content of examples.

LTS attempts to update the examples as often as possible so that they reflect the current state of the guidelines. Please note that some examples or parts of examples may not comply with the current guidelines.

List of Standards

When creating metadata records, GPO follows national standards unless stated otherwise in these guidelines. Below is a listing of the standards followed by GPO.


Anglo-American Cataloguing Committee for Cartographic Materials. Cartographic Materials: A Manual of Interpretation for AACR2, 2002 Revision. Chicago: American Library Association,2003, with updates.

Anglo-American Cataloging Rules. 2nd ed., 2002 revision, 2005 update. Prepared under the direction of the Joint Steering Committee for the Revision of AACR2.Chicago: American Library Association, 2005.

BIBCO Participants' Manual. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 2008.

Canadian Library Association, Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (Great Britain), Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA. RDA: Resource Description and Access. Chicago: American Library Association, 2011.

CONSER Cataloging Manual. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 2006.

CONSER Editing Guide. 2003 cumulation with updates. Washington: Library of Congress: Distributed by the Library of Congress, Cataloging Distribution Service.

CONSER Standard Record (CSR) Guidelines. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 2010.

Integrating Resources: A Cataloging Manual. 2011 revision. Washington, DC: Program for Cooperative Cataloging, 2011.

Library of Congress. Office for Descriptive Cataloging Policy. Cataloging Rules for the Description of Looseleaf Publications. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: Cataloging Distribution Service, Library of Congress, 1989.

Library of Congress. Policy and Standards Division. Descriptive Cataloging Manual Z1: Name and Series Authority Records. Washington, DC: Cataloging Service, Library of Congress, 2013.

---. Library of Congress Rule Interpretations. Washington, DC: Cataloging Distribution Service, Library of Congress.

---. Subject Headings Manual. 2008 edition with updates. Washington, DC: Cataloging Distribution Service, Library of Congress.

Library of Congress. Network Development and MARC Standards Office. MARC 21 Format for Authority Data. 1999 ed. With updates. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, Cataloging Distribution Service.

---. MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data. 1999 ed., with updates. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, Cataloging Distribution Service.

NACO Participants' Manual. 3rd ed. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 2005.

OCLC. Bibliographic Formats and Standards. 4th ed. Last modified October 2011.

---. Enhanced Training Outline. Rev. Jay Weitz. Rev. March 2004.

---. Guidelines for National Level Enhance Participants. Rev. Jay Weitz. May 2000.

SACO Participants' Manual. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 2007.


Library of Congress. Classification Web. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, Cataloging Distribution Service.

United States Government Publishing Office. Library Technical Services. Superintendent of Documents Classification Guidelines. Washington, DC : Federal Depository Library Program, 2017-

---. List of Classes of United States Government Publications Available for Selection by Depository Libraries. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Publishing Office.

Other Metadata Schemes

Dublin Core Metadata Element Set, Version 1.1. Dublin Core Metadata Initiative, June 2012.

ONIX for books 2.1 specification. ONIX International Steering Committee, February 2005.


Chicago Manual of Style: the Essential Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers. 16th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

United States Government Printing Office. United States Government Printing Office Style Manual. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008.

Cooperative Associations

GPO continues to be heavily involved in cooperative cataloging and metadata activities with members of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) library community and the library community at large. GPO is an active participant in all components of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) which is managed by the Library of Congress, including BIBCO, CONSER (Cooperative Online Serials), NACO (Name Authority Cooperative) and SACO (Subject Authority Cooperative). GPO has been a member of OCLC since 1976 and contributes bibliographic records for U.S. Government information to the international database on a daily basis. Since 2010, GPO has formed cooperative cataloging partnerships with Federal depository libraries to exchange metadata for unreported publications as well as for digitized collections on historic publications.


Please submit your questions about the GPO Cataloging Guidelines via askGPO by choosing the “Federal Depository Library Program” tile and selecting the category “Cataloging/Metadata (Policy and Records).