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Chapter 2. Foundations, Principles, Conceptual Models, and Standards of Resource Description

Chapter Outline

  • Bibliographic Description and Surrogate Records

  • Contributions to Cataloging Theory

  • Metadata Schemas

  • Development of Standards​


Key Takeaways

Chapter 2 provides a brief history of the development of principles and cataloging standards development for descriptive data.

Move to international standards

During the modern history of cataloging standards development, we see a move from local or national standards development to more international efforts, driven by collaborations between national associations or under the auspices of international organizations (like IFLA and ISO). Although international efforts are included, the focus is on theory and standards in relation to North American cataloging practices. 


The most recent resource description standard used in North America is RDA: Resource Description and Access, which is developed in English but has also been translated into other languages.


The Joint Steering Committee for Development of RDA (JSC) is responsible for overseeing revision work. JSC is an international organization with representatives from the American Library Association, Australian Committee on Cataloguing, The British Library, Canadian Committee on Cataloguing, CILIP: Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, and the Library of Congress.


RDA does not provide guidelines for record structures or for any specific encoding system to express the resulting resource description in a machine-readable format. Even though the guidelines are encoding system agnostic, the defined elements describing the entities and relationships are designed with consideration of their use in the linked data environment. Any particular implementation of RDA will require the use of encoding standards (e.g., MARC or XML-based schemas) to express the data in an electronic format.

Chapter References/Notes

  1. Panizzi, A. (1985). Rules for the compilation of the catalogue. In M. Carpenter & E. Svenonius (Eds.), Foundations of cataloging: A sourcebook (pp. 3–14). Littleton, CO: Libraries Unlimited. (Original work published 1841).

  2. Panizzi, A. (1985). Mr. Panizzi to the Right Hon. the Earl of Ellesmere--British Museum, January 29, 1848. In M. Carpenter & E. Svenonius (Eds.), Foundations of cataloging: A sourcebook (pp. 18–47). Little- ton, CO: Libraries Unlimited. (Original work published 1850).

  3. Carpenter, M. (1985). Editor’s introduction: ‘Mr. Panizzi to the Right Hon. the Earl of Ellesmere’. In M. Carpenter & E. Svenonius (Eds.), Foundations of cataloging: A sourcebook (pp. 15–17). Littleton, CO: Libraries Unlimited.

  4. Svenonius, E. Editor’s introduction: ‘Smithsonian catalogue system [by] Charles C. Jewett’. In M. Carpenter & E. Svenonius (Eds.), Foundations of cataloging: A sourcebook (p. 49). Littleton, CO: Libraries Unlimited.

  5. Cutter, C. A. (1904). Rules for a dictionary catalog (4th ed. rewritten). Washington, DC: Government Printing Office (p. 3).

  6. Cutter, 1904, p. 6.

  7. Cutter, 1904, p. 12.

  8. Lubetzky, S. (1985). Principles of descriptive cataloging. In M. Carpenter & E. Svenonius (Eds.), Foundations of cataloging: A sourcebook (pp. 104–112). Littleton, CO: Libraries Unlimited. (Original work published 1946).

  9. Lubetzky, S. (2001). Cataloging rules and principles: A critique of the A.L.A. rules for entry and a proposed design for their revision. In E. Svenonius & D. McGarry (Eds.), Seymour Lubetzky: Writings on the classical art of cataloging (pp. 78–139). Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited. (Original work published 1953).

  10. Lubetzky, S. (1960). Code of cataloging rules: Author and title entry. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

  11. Lubetzky, S. (1969). Principles of cataloging. Final report. Phase I: Descriptive cataloging. Los Angeles, CA: Institute of Library Research, University of California.

  12. IFLA Cataloguing Section and IFLA Meetings of Experts on an International Cataloguing Code. (2009). Statement of international cataloguing principles. München, Germany: K. G. Saur. Retrieved from

  13. International Federation of Library Associations. (1974). ISBD (M): International standard bibliographic description for monographic publications (1st standard ed.). London, UK: IFLA Committee on Cataloguing (p. vii).

  14. International Federation of Library Associations, 1974.

  15. Anderson, D. (1974). Universal bibliographic control: A long term policy, a plan for action. Pullach/Munich, Germany: Verlag Dokumentation (p. 11).

  16. Tillett, B. B. (2003). FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records). Technicalities, 23(5), 1, 11–13. Retrieved from

  17. IFLA Study Group on the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records. (1998). Functional requirements for bibliographic records: Final report (UBCIM Publications, New Series Vol. 19). München, Germany: K. G. Saur. Retrieved from -bibliographic-records.

  18. Patton, G. E. (2009). Functional requirements for authority data: A conceptual model (IFLA Series on Bibliographic Control Vol. 34). München, Germany: K. G. Saur. Retrieved from publications/functional-requirements-for-authority-data.

  19. Zeng, M. L., Žumer, M., & Salaba, A. (Eds.). (2011). Functional requirements for subject authority data (FRSAD): A conceptual model (IFLA Series on Bibliographic Control Vol. 43). Berlin/München, Germany: De Gruyter Saur. Retrieved from

  20. Riva, P., Le Boeuf, P. and Žumer, M. (2017). IFLA library reference model: A conceptual model for bibliographic information. Endorsed by the IFLA Professional Committee, August 2017. As amended and corrected through December 2017.

  21. Žumer, M. 2(018). IFLA library reference model (IFLA LRM): Harmonisation of the FRBR family. Knowledge Organization 45(4), 310–318. Also available in Hjørland, Birger and Gnoli, Claudio eds., ISKO Encyclopedia of Knowledge Organization, http://

  22. Jewett, C. C. (1961). Smithsonian report on the construction of catalogues of libraries, and their publication by means of separate, stereotyped titles, with rules and examples (2nd. ed.). Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms. (Original work published 1853).

  23. Dunkin, P. S. (1969). Cataloging U.S.A. Chicago, IL: American Library Association (p. 11).

  24. Bakewell, K. G. B. (1972). A manual of cataloguing practice. Oxford, UK: Pergamon Press (p. 32).

  25. Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican Library). (1948). Rules for the catalog of printed books. W. E. Wright (Ed.). (The Very Rev. T. J. Shanahan, V. A. Schaefer, & C. T. Vesselowsky, Trans.) Chicago, IL: American Library Association. (p. v).

  26. Osborn, A. D. (1941, October). The crisis in cataloging. Library Quarterly, 11(4), 393–411. Available from

  27. Lubetzky, 2001 [1953].

  28. Lubetzky, 1960.

  29. AACR 2: Background and summary. (1978, October 20). Library of Congress Information Bulletin 37, 640–652. Retrieved from;view=1up;seq=1.

  30. Maxwell, M. F. (1989). AACR2R: Anglo-American cataloguing rules. Library Resources & Technical Services, 33(2), 179–181.

  31. Gorman, M. (1989). AACR2R: Editor’s perspective. Library Resources & Technical Services, 33(2), 181–186.


Additional Readings

Here, you will find readings specific to the contents of this chapter.

You may find more readings about similar topics on the Cataloging and Classification Web Resources page

Bibliographic Records and Description
  • Clarke, R.I. (2015). "Breaking records: The history of bibliographic records and their influence in conceptualizing bibliographic data." Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 53(3-4), 286-302, DOI: 10.1080/01639374.2014.960988

  • OCLC Support & Training. (n.d.). Bibliographic formats and standards. OCLC. Retrieved from

​Cataloging History
  • Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, vol 35: ½ and 3/4 (2002-2003) special issues on"Historical Aspects of Cataloging and Classification,"

  • Dobreski, B. (2021). "Descriptive cataloging: The history and practice of describing library resources." Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 59(2-3), 225-241, DOI: 10.1080/01639374.2020.1864693

  • Hanson, E. R., & Daily, J. E. (2018). Catalogs and cataloging: History. Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, 4th edition. CRC Press, 743-779. 

  • Smiraglia, R. P. (2003). “The history of ‘The Work’ in the modern catalog.” Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 35 (3-4), 553-567, DOI: 10.1300/J104v35n03_13. Retrieved from

Cataloging Principles

Emerging Trends in Cataloging
  • Park, J. ran. And Tosaka, Y. (2017). "Emerging information standards and technologies: cataloging and metadata professionals’ perspectives", Library Hi Tech News, 34(4), 22-26,  

  • Tuncer, N. and David, R. (2019). "The cataloging of self-published items." Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 57(4), 206-226, DOI: 10.1080/01639374.2019.1602091

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