Subject Cataloging: General Policies

The inclusion of subject access points in catalog records aids users to retrieve information and to identify and locate specific resources based on subjects.

Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)

1. The Library of Congress' (LC's) Subject Headings Manual (SHM) provides for the establishment of Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) for topical concepts/ideas, buildings, non-jurisdictional geographic names, etc., the addition of new subdivisions, cross-references, and the updating of subject authority records.

2. GPO is a member of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging's (PCC) Subject Authority Cooperative component, SACO.

3. GPO catalogers access LC subject authority records via OCLC's authority file, or via LC's Classification Web system (aka Class Web or Minaret). GPO has its own subject authority records in its Integrated Library System (ILS), Aleph. The local versions of these records are essentially the same as their counterparts in LC or OCLC. Except for cataloger codes and other minor proprietary information, GPO adds no additional information to its local versions of subject authority records.

4. GPO proposes new subject authority records, and changes to existing ones, according to the instructions in the Library of Congress' Subject Headings Manual (SHM).

5. With the possible exception of certain NASA records, catalogers enter LCSH in all bibliographic records. These are tagged 600, 610, 611, 630, 650, or 651, and coded with second indicator "0." The number of LCSH fields in a bibliographic record may vary between one (1) and ten (10), but usually average between three (3) and five (5). Catalogers follow SHM H 80 for the order of subject headings. When SHM H 80 does not prescribe any order, subject headings are placed in order by MARC field tag.

6. With the exception of certain titles that do not need to be established (see SHM H 1435), all subject headings entries and subject heading subdivisions appearing in GPO records must be confirmed in the OCLC authority files or by a subject heading proposal in the Library of Congress’ Classification Web system. This includes all subjects and names used as subjects (personal names, corporate/conference names, uniform titles, and jurisdictional geographic names) that appear in the 6XX fields of bibliographic records. A temporary exception may be made for Congressionals or other priority titles, when names used in these as subjects (fields 600, 610, or 611) are in the process of having NACO records prepared.

7. Catalogers are responsible for correctly assigning and recording subject added entries in the 600, 610, 611, 630, 650, and 651 fields. These must be authorized in the OCLC subject authority file, and follow SHM instructions. Catalogers should additionally follow instructions in the other souces cited below. If a subject heading is needed for the resource cataloged, that is not found in OCLC's subject authority file, or if the heading is found but requires additional authority work, such as the addition of cross-references, the cataloger creates a new or change subject proposal in LC's Classification Web system, following SACO procedures. The new proposed subject heading may be entered in the bibliographic record before being approved by LC, as long as the record is entered at level I, and not at the PCC level. If catalogers are not sure whether to make a proposal or not, they should ask the SACO liaison first (before beginning any work).

GPO catalogers consult the sources listed below for instructions on subject heading assignment, checking and revising subject headings in existing records, and the proposing of new and changed subject authority records needed for subject cataloging.

The primary sources consulted are:

NASA Thesaurus Terms as Subject Headings

For publications assigned NASA technical report SuDocs numbers (NAS 1.15: NAS 1.26: NAS 1.2/2-2: NAS 1.60:) GPO assigns subject headings from the NASA Thesaurus.  The NASA Thesaurus is a list of subject descriptors that NASA assigns to records for technical publications available at the NASA Technical Report Server and other sites.  These records are available at the NASA Center for AeroSpace Information (CASI) Aeronautics and Space Database, which is password-protected and requires a user name.  The cataloger searches the title being cataloged in the database, opens the "full display" of the found record, and locates the NASA "major" subject terms on the record. The terms are then transcribed as 650 subject headings in the corresponding OCLC record, following standard Library of Congress subject heading capitalization practice, and coded as NASA Thesaurus headings (i.e. second indicator "7" and subfield "2" followed by "nasat").

650  7  Boundary layers. ǂ2 nasat

If a NASA technical report is published as a multipart, there will be a record for each part in the CASI database.  All NASA Thesaurus terms for the parts will be transcribed in the OCLC record, with the exception of identical terms already transcribed from other parts.

Library of Congress subject headings are included on a NASA technical report bibliographic record when a record cannot be found in the CASI database for the title being cataloged. If an OCLC record containing Library of Congress subject headings is being used for copy cataloging for a NASA technical report, those headings will be retained on the OCLC record, as well as the record in the CGP.  

Because NASA Thesaurus headings meet the BIBCO standard of being derived from a "recognized thesaurus," catalog records containing such headings are eligible for upgrade to PCC status, provided that the records meet all other PCC standards.   

MESH, NAL, and Other Non-LC Subject Headings

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) and National Agricultural Library (AGL) maintain their own subject thesauri for use in their cataloging work. The headings are coded in the 6xx Marc field as:

  • Medical Subject Headings (MESH): second indicator "2"; and
  • National Agricultural Library Subject Authority File (NAL): second indicator "3".

When encountered during copy cataloging, GPO retains these headings for the CGP only when there is clear indication that they were entered by NLM or AGL (i.e., NLM or AGL appear in a 040 subfield). MESH and NAL headings meet the BIBCO standard of being derived from "a recognized thesaurus" and bibliographic records containing such headings are eligible for upgrade to PCC status, provided that the record meets all other PCC standards and NLM or AGL appear in a 040 subfield. GPO never verifies or authorizes NLM or AGL headings, neither do these headings undergo authority control processing. They are merely removed or retained locally, per the guideline above.

Other non-LC subject headings may be retained in an OCLC record, but are not included in the corresponding CGP record.   

Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials (LCGFT)

Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials (LCGFT) appear in the 655 fields of bibliographic records. These headings are identified by second indicator “7,” and subfield 2 with value “lcgft.”

GPO adds LCGFTs to original and modified records for Congressionals, cartographic resources, audiovisual resources, and to any other records that describe works for which General genre/form terms are appropriate. These will be included in the OCLC master and local CGP records. For adapted records, any LCGFTs that do not control in OCLC will be removed from the local record (although retained in the OCLC master record).

1. Catalogers should review LCGFT authority records to ensure accurate application. Genre/form terms are searchable in the Subject Authority File by words/phrases and LCCNs (010) beginning with “gf,” and identifiable by Subject/thesaurus convention (040 ǂf) with “lcgft”:


Pay attention to scope notes:


2. Alternatively, catalogers may search for LCGFTs in Classification Web. Many find Classification Web to have superior search, retrieval, and display capability.

3. Catalogers can enter the term in their bibliographic record in OCLC, by inputting, for example, the following: 655 #7 Topographic maps. Then, the cataloger need only control the heading in OCLC, and the system will supply the subfield 2 with the value “lcgft.”

Adding General LCGFT to Bibliographic Records

The addition of general LCGFT terms augments LCGFT already used for audio-visual, cartographic, and legislative materials. See the table below for a subset of general LCGFT for use with government documents.

Selected terms for use with government documents:  

Commemorative works:


Illustrated works:


Creative nonfiction:


Informational works:

Activity Books
Conference materials
Conference papers and proceedings
Environmental impact statements
Records (Documents)
Annual reports
Census data
Reference works
Handbooks and manuals
Serial publications
Annual reports
Land surveys

Derivative works:


Instructional and educational works:

Handbooks and manuals
Programmed instructional materials

Discursive works:


Recreational works:

Puzzles and games


Conference materials

Tactile works:

Braille books

Background Resources for LCGFT

Genre/Form Headings in the Library of Congress

Introduction to Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials  

Frequently Asked Questions about Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials (LCGFT)  

Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms [via the LC Linked Data site] 

Subject Headings in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP) [LSCM LTS full webcast] LCGFT are covered in slide presentation, pages 12-14.   

Adding LCGFT to Cartographic Records

Catalogers should use the following terms for these specific types of maps:

  • Road maps: use for Motor vehicle use maps
  • Nautical charts: use for nautical charts from NOAA and other agencies
  • Quadrangle maps: use for USGS quadrangles.
  • Tourist maps: use for maps from the National Park Service, National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and other agencies that show trails, recreation sites, and other features of interest to visitors.
  • Remote sensing maps: use for satellite imagery
  • Topographic maps: see authority record gf2011026697, especially scope note
  • Bathymetric maps: see authority record gf2011026081

Other terms may be used as appropriate.   

Adding LCGFT to Audiovisual Records

Commonly applied LCGFTs for audio-visual resources cataloged by GPO include:

655 _7   |a Internet videos|2 lcgft

655 _7   |a Video recordings for the hearing impaired |2 lcgft

655 _7   |a Sponsored films |2 lcgft

655 _7   |a Public service announcements (Motion pictures)|2 lcgft

655 _7   |a Documentary films |2 lcgft

655 _7   |a Podcasts|2 lcgft

655 _7   |a Radio public service announcements |2 lcgft

655 _7   |a Legislative materials|2 lcgft

655 _7 |a Video recordings |2 lcgft

655 _7 |a Sound recordings|2 lcgft

GPO verifies and authorizes LCGFT in OCLC, when added to or retained in, its local records. LCGFT undergo authority control processing. In some cases, they may be added to bibliographic records. The most common occurrence of this, is when form subdivisions for maps, such as “Maps, Topographic,” that have been removed from LCSH, are encountered in bibliographic records. In such cases, the authority control process substitutes the authorized form subdivision “maps” for the unauthorized one, but adds “Topographic maps” as a completely new LCGFT to the record.

GPO catalogers consult and follow:Frequently Asked Questions about LCGFT and the main menu labeled "Search Genre/Form Terms" in Classification Web.   


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GPO Cataloging Guidelines

Cataloging/Metadata Policy-making Process
Cataloging Policy and Documentation Committee (CPDC)
GPO Cataloging Guidelines Review and Revision
GPO Cataloging Guidelines: Organization and Structure
List of Standards
Other Metadata Schemes
Cooperative Associations
Bibliographic Cataloging
Authoritative Status of the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications
GPO Records in OCLC and Record Maintenance
What LSCM Catalogs
Cataloging/Metadata Encoding Levels Policies
1.0 Purpose
2.0 Background and Related Documents
3.0 Guidelines and Standards Consulted
4.0 Coordination with Collection Development Procedures
5.0 General Principles
5.1 General Cataloging/Metadata Workflows - Individual Records
5.2 Project and Retrospective Cataloging
5.3 Batch Processing of Record Sets
5.4 Categories of Federal Information Products
5.5 922 Codes
6.0 Cataloging Levels Chart
Treatment Decisions for Collections and Analytics
Factors to Consider for the Treatment Decision
Separate Record Policy
Original Cataloging
Copy Cataloging
Adapting PCC Pre-RDA Records
Adapting Non-PCC Pre-RDA Records
Authenticating Non-PCC Pre-RDA Records as PCC
Replacing and Exporting Records
Cataloging Non-distributed Formats (for C&I)
GPO Sales Program Information
Authority Records
General MARC Field Policies
Formats, Modes of Issuance, Etc.
Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) Policy on ISBD Punctuation
Fixed Fields
ELvl - Encoding Level
Variable Fields
037 - Source of Acquisition
040 - Cataloging Source
050 - LC Call Number
060 - NLM Call Number
070 - NAL Call Number
082 - Dewey Decimal Classification Number
100 - Principal Creator – Personal Name
110/111 - Principal Creator - Corporate/Meeting Name
130/240 - Unique Title for Work or Expression
130 - Unique Title for Work or Expression - No Principal Creator Present
240 - Unique Title for Work or Expression - Principal Creator Present
245 - Title Statement and 246 - Varying Form of Title
245 $c - SOR
246 - Varying Form of Title
250 - Edition Statement
264 - Production, Publication
GPO Sales Statement
300 - Physical Description
336 - Content, 337 - , 338 -
490 - Series Statement Field
500, 588 - Title Source, Source of Description Notes
500 - General Note
536 - Funding Info Note
546 - Language Note
6XX - Subject Access Fields
600 - Personal Name Subject
700 - Personal Name Associated with a Work
710/711 - Corporate/Meeting Name Associated with a Work
76X to 78X - Linking Entries
776 - Additional Physical Form Entry
074 GPO Item Number
Item Number Corrections
086 SuDoc Number
Sources to Consult
Background and General Instructions
Serials and Integrating Resources
Related Chapters/Sections
Fixed Fields
DtSt: Type of Date/Publication Status
Variable Fields
020 – ISBN
037 – Source of Acquisition
088 - Report Numbers
Types of Numbers NOT Recorded in the 088 Field
Mail Stop and Routing Codes
245 ǂc - Statement of Responsibility
250 - Edition Statement
300 - Physical Description
ǂa – Extent, Complicated or Irregular Paging
ǂa – Multipart Monographs
ǂa – Sheets
500 - General Note
500 – Title Source Note
Report Numbers
Sales Information Notes
Shipping List Notes
Multipart Monographs
505 - Formatted Contents Note
520 - Summary, etc.
536 - Funding Information Note
588 - Source of Description Note
Single-part Online Monographs Examples
Multipart Monographs Examples
Related Works and Expressions
Related Chapters/Sections
Related Resources
Related Works and Expressions - Overview
Frequently Revised Monographs
Language Editions and Translations
Language editions
Parallel text edition
Analytical Access Point(s)
NEPA Documents
Revised Editions
Definition / Context
Precataloging Decision-making
Logistical Note for Bibliographic File Maintenance for Multiple Editions
Detailed Instructions and Examples for Revised Editions
New Expression – Revision and earlier edition share all common authorized access point elements
New Expression – Revision with different title proper
New Expression – Revision’s authorized access point constructed according to a different descriptive convention
New Work – Revised edition with a new primary author
New Work – Revised editions with the same title proper and primary author (or editor) and new content
Ambiguous Status – Appearance of additional authors
Summary included within resource being cataloged
Summary separate from resource being cataloged
Unspecified Relationships and MARC 787
Current RDA Policies and MARC Fields (February 2015- )
MARC Fields
Overview of Previous Microfiche Policies
Re-Cataloging Microfiche
Congressional Publications
Fixed Fields
Leader/17- Encoding Level
Leader/18 - Descriptive Cataloging Form
008/39 - Cataloging Source
Variable Fields
037 - GPO Sales Stock Number
042 - Authentication Code
050 - LC Call Number
086 - SuDoc Classification Number
088 - Report Number
1xx - Principal Creator
130/240 - Unique Title for Work
245 - Title Statement
264 - Publication Statement
264 - Distribution Statement
300 - Physical Description
500 - General Notes
504 - Bibliography, etc. Note
505 - Contents Note
Technical Reports
Identification of Technical Reports
Monograph or Serial
Sources of Information
Cataloging Instructions
Fixed Fields
Variable Fields
General Guidance on Special Technical Report Fields
027 – Standard Technical Report Number
513 – Type of Report and Period Covered Note
536 – Funding Information Note
Public and Private Laws
Public Laws
Private Laws
074 - Item Number
086 - SuDoc Number
490 and 830 - Series
546 and 041- Language
Senate Treaty Document Series (Y 1.1/4:)
Cartographic Materials
Background and Sources Consulted
Brochures and Visitor Guides Treated as Maps
BLM Surface/Mineral Management Maps
Serial Treatment
Encoding Level
086 - SuDoc Number
1XX - Principal Creator
130/240 - Unique Title for Work
245 - Title Statement
255 - Cartographic Math Data
300 - Physical Description
500 - Notes
655 - Genre Term
Audiovisual Resources
Scope of the Format Visual Resources
Definitions of Types of Visual Resources
Bibliographic Treatment in the CGP
Analytics of Videos
Collections of Videos
Analytics of Still Images
Collections of Still Images
MARC Fields for Visual Resources
300 - Physical Description
655 - Genre/Form Terms
Continuing Resources
Selective Registration for ISSN Assignments
GPO’s automated submission of continuing resources for ISSN assignments
GPO’s selective registration of continuing resources for ISSN assignments
Inclusion criteria
Exclusion criteria
Sources to Consult
Policies, Procedures, Practices
Definition of Serial
Monograph vs. Serial and Frequency of Issuance
When Mode of Issuance Is Ambiguous
Replacement of Monograph Records with a Serial Record
Ceased Serials Cataloged for the First Time GPO
Numbering–Exceptions to RDA Principle of Transcription
Notification of Cataloging Updates via WebTech Notes
Notification of OAM for Serials Harvesting
Updating Collections of Serials
MARC Fields
Leader /17 (Encoding Lvl) & 042
010 - LC Control Number
022 - ISSN
050 – LC Call Number
060 – NLM Call Number
070 – NAL Call Number
074 - Item Number
082 - Dewey Decimal Classification Number
086 - SuDoc Number
246- Varying Form of Title
264 - Production, Publication
300 - Physical Description (300|a )
362, 588, and Any Field Where Designation Is Represented
500 - Distribution Note
515 - Numbering Peculiarities
538 - System Details Note
588 - DBO/Source of Title Proper Note
Language for “Description Based on” Note
Print Version Record Used As Basis of Description for Online Version
76X--78X– Linking Entry Fields
776 – Additional Physical Form
Cessation of print version, continuation online version
Cessation of serial due to format and title change
Microform serials and GPO practices for linkages
Former, discontinued practice for linking microform serials to other manifestations
Current practice for linking microform serials to other manifestations
Other Considerations for Linking Entry Fields
Parallel formats
Works linked but not described in bibliographic records
856 – Electronic Location & Access
Single- vs. Separate-Record Approach and PURLs
Appendix A: Bibliographic File Maintenance: Deletion of Records from the CONSER Database
Appendix B: Where to Find Certain CONSER Procedures
Integrating Resources
086 - SuDoc Number
130 - Authorized Access Point for Work
245 - Title
Other Title Information ($b)
Statement of Responsibility ($c)
300 - Physical Description
5XX - Notes
Order of 5xx Notes
588 - DBO/Source of title proper note
580/760-787 - Linking Relationships
Computer Files
Procedures to Convert Type "M" to Type "A" Records
Disposition of eBooks on CD-ROM
MARC Fields
020 – International Standard Book Number
347 – Digital file characteristics
856 – Electronic location and access
New records, or non-GPO adapted records
Existing GPO records
955 – Local GPO notes
New record, acquired directly by cataloger
New record, acquired by acquisitions team
Existing GPO record, updated to include eBook
Non-Distributed eBooks
074 – Item number
500 – General note on distribution
588 – Description Based on Note
856 – Electronic location and access
OCLC Holdings
Export to Aleph
Resources to Consult
Name Authorities
Instructions to Consult
Policy Overview
Personal Names
Congressional Publications
Other Publications
Corporate/Conference Names
Variant Names
Conference Authority Records
Programs and Projects
Corporate Names for Parks, Forests, Preserves, etc.
Works and Expressions
Multipart (Collective) Titles
Series-Like Phrases
Places (Jurisdictional Geographic Names)
General Procedures
Optional Fields
Research in OCLC
How Much Research Should Be Performed . . . ?
When to Consult Additional Sources
Tips for Contacting Agencies
General Field Specific Guidelines
043 - Geographic Area Code
1xx and 4xx
4XX - See from Tracing
5XX - See Also from Tracing
670 - Source Data Found
678 - Biographical or Historical Data
781 - Subdivision Linking Entry - Geographic Subdivision
General Policies
Hybrid Records in RDA Name Authority Records
When to Recode an Existing NAR to RDA
How to Recode an Existing NAR from AACR2 to RDA
Field Specific Guidelines
$u and $v in the 046 and 3XX Optional Fields
Source of Information: 670 vs. $v in the 046 and 3XX Optional Fields
046 – Special Coded Dates
$2 – Source of Term
$s (start date or period) $t (end date or period)
336 - Content Type
368 - Other Attributes of Person or Corporate Body
370 - Associated Place
371 – Address
372 – Field of Activity
373 – Association Group
377 – Associated Language
4XX – See from Tracing
5XX – See Also from Tracings
670 – Source Data Found
678 – Biographical or Historical Data
Personal Names
Procedure for ECIP
Procedure for CRS Reports
General Instructions
046 – Special Coded Dates (RDA 9.3)
$s and $t in the 046 and 3XX Optional Fields
100 – Authorized Access Point
$q – Fuller Form of Name
$d – Birth and/or Death Date
$c – Titles and Other Words (Professions) Associated with a Name
368 - Other Attributes of Person or Corporate Body
370 - Associated Place (RDA 9.8-9.11)
371 - Address (RDA 9.12)
372 – Field of Activity (RDA 9.15)
373 – Associated Group (RDA 9.13: Affiliation)
374 – Profession or Occupation (RDA 9.16)
375 - Gender (RDA 9.7)
377 - Language (RDA 9.14)
378 – Fuller Form of Name (RDA 9.5)
400 - See from Tracing-Personal Name
510 - Related Corporate Body
678 - Biographical or Historical Data (RDA 9.17)
Corporate Names
Sources to Consult
Before You Begin
MARC Fields
110 - Corporate Name
Places Associated with the Corporate Body
Associated Institution
Names Containing the Word "Services"
678 - Biographical or Historical Data (11.11)
111- Meeting Names
368 - Other Attributes of Corporate Body, $a Type of Corporate Body
370 - Associated Place
372 - Field of Activity
373 - Associated Group (11.5)
410/411 - See from Tracing
Initialism or Acronyms in Capital Letters
Variants for Names Containing Ampersands
410 - See from Tracing - Corporate Name
Variant Names Entered Subordinately
Place Names As Jurisdictions vs. Locations
Variant Names Entered Directly
Variants for Names Containing the Term “Inc.” or “Incorporated”
411 - See from Tracing - Meeting Name
Additional Identifying Element(s) for Initialisms/Acronyms in Variants for Meeting Names
510/511 – See Also from Tracing
Relationships and Relationship Designators
510 - See Also from Tracing - Corporate Name
Hierarchical Superior Relationship
667 - Nonpublic Gen Note
Works and Expressions
046 – Special Coded Dates (RDA 6.4 and 6.10)
130 – Authorized Access Point
336 – Content Type (RDA 6.9)
370 – Associated Place (RDA 6.5)
377 – Associated Language (RDA 6.11)
380 – Form of Work (RDA 6.3)
410/430 – Variant Authorized Access Points
667 – Nonpublic General Note
670 – Source Data Found
043 - Geographic Area Code
451 - See From Tracing
670 - Source Data Found
781 - Subdivision Linking Entry-Geographic Subdivision
General Policies
Hybrid Records in RDA NARs
When to Recode an Existing NAR to RDA
How to Recode an Existing NAR from AACR2 to RDA
Field Specific Guidelines
5XX - See Also from Tracings
Personal Names
100 – Authorized Access Point
$q - Fuller Form of Name
400 – See from Tracing-Personal Name
678 – Biographical or Historical Data (RDA 9.17)
Corporate Bodies
Auth Status - 008/33
110 - Corporate Name
111 – Meeting Name
410/411 – Variant Name
5XX – See Also from Tracings
670 - Source Data Found
043 - Geographic Area Code
451 - See from Tracing
670 – Source Data Found
781 - Subdivision Linking Entry-Geographic Subdivision
Subject Cataloging
General Policies
LC Subject Headings
NASA Thesaurus Terms As Subject Headings
MESH, NAL, and Other Non-LC Subject Headings
LC Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials
Adding General LCGFT to Bibliographic Records
Background Resources for LCGFT
Adding LCGFT to Cartographic Records
Adding LCGFT to Audiovisual Records
Subject Heading Proposals, Background, and Tips
Tips and Instructions
Internet Research
Subject Headings Manual
Searching Minaret
Add'l Minaret (Class Web) Tips
Scope Notes
Use of the Dictionary
Use of Wikipedia
Use of LSCH As a Thesaurus
Class Web or Minaret
SACO Resources
Subject Headings Manual
Print Resources
Resources for Geographic Proposals
Geographic Print Resources
Examples of GPO Subject Proposals
Subject Heading Proposals, Workflow
Submitting SACO Proposals for Internal Review
Producing Associated Bib Records; Exporting Subject Authority Records
Submitting SACO Proposals to the Library of Congress
Updating Aleph Authority File
Name vs Subject Authority File
Name Headings As Subjects
Special Topics, Materials, Subdivisions, Etc.
Environmental Impact Statements
Legal Topics
Other Metadata Schemes
Dublin Core
Initialisms and Acronyms
List of Major Changes to the Cataloging Guidelines

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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).