Cataloging CD-ROMs
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Princeton University Cataloging Documentation

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Cataloging CD-ROMs and Computer Disks

CD-ROMs and computer disks are cataloged according to their content. The cataloger should determine if the item is a monograph, serial, database or software program and catalog it in the books (bks), serial (ser) or computer file (mdf) format as appropriate. Be sure to search all files for copy for the item. If copy is only available in a file which the cataloger will not be using, use the "TRA DER" or "TRA CRE*" transfer commands to move the copy to the chosen file. For help in determining the correct file, see Content Versus Carrier (Electronic Resources)


CD-ROM is short for compact-disc read-only memory. The disc is used for the permanent storage of data or audio or video recordings. This document covers discs (or disks in the case of computer disks) that contain data.

Disc or disk

Disc is the word used to indicate optical storage devices (CD-ROMs and compact discs). On older records the word "disk" will appear. Disk now refers to other computer contexts, such as floppy disk, hard disk, etc.

Chief source of information

The chief source for cataloging CD-ROMs and computer disks is the title screen. Several alternate chief sources are listed in revised Chapter 9 of AACR2. In practice we will most often be cataloging from the CD-ROM or computer disk label. Always, make a note in the catalog record showing what was chosen as the chief source, e.g., Title from title screen or Title from label on disc.

Fixed fields

For assistance with fixed fields and values see: LC's MARC documentation. Refer also to Princeton Policy in the MARC format section of the documentation in regard to the use of 006 and 007 fields.

Variable fields

Attention should be paid to the following fields (some of which are unique to computer files). Other fields are used in the usual manner where appropriate.

130 (uniform title)

For serials: Provide a uniform title as usual if the title conflicts with an unrelated serial publication. In addition, if the print title and its CD-ROM (or computer disk) counterpart have the same title, provide a uniform title indicating the specific computer file format using a qualifier such as (CD-ROM) or (Computer disk).

24x (titles)

General material designator (GMD) for CD-ROMs and computer disks is ‡h[electronic resource] The 245 title is taken from the chief source as indicated above. Title variations often appear in accompanying material, etc. These should be added as a 246 field.

250 (edition)

The term "version" is often used to distinguish between alternate computer file formats. If the term "CD version" appears, include this in the 250 field.

256 (file characteristics: MDF ONLY)

Usually Computer data for CD-ROMs.

260 (imprint)

Many computer file titles are issued by a commercial publisher who may have nothing to do with the original print version, e.g.: SilverPlatter Information. In general these publishers are not traced. Non commercial bodies associated with the intellectual content of the title are traced as usual.

300 (physical description area)

The physical unit for the CD-ROM is computer optical discs The ‡c is always 4 3/4 in. The physical unit for computer disks is computer disks. The ‡c is always 3 1/2 in. The small guide, which is often enclosed within the jewel case, can be described here, e.g., +‡e guide (15 p. ; 12 cm.) Other larger manuals, installation discs, etc. are usually described in a note.

362 (designation : SERIALS ONLY)

Often is an unformatted note with information from accompanying material, e.g., Began with Mar. 1991. 1980-1989 issued on one retrospective disc; 1990, 1991 issued on annual discs. The "earliest" issue may be difficult to determine where discs are cumulative. It is often necessary to use the 'Description based on' note.

500 (notes)

Accompanying material: Describe in a 500 field the manuals, guides and installation discs, etc. which are either too numerous or complicated to describe in the 300 field. Accompanied by installation and retrieval software on two 5 1/4 in. disks and reference manual.
The Description based on note for serials is also added as a 500 note:
Description based on: [earliest disc available]; title from disc label.

515 (numbering irregularities: SERIALS ONLY)

Often used to describe the date of coverage and cumulation patterns: Backfile covers 1973-1983; current discs are cumulative and cover 1984 through the current quarter.

530 (additional physical form note)

CD-ROMs often have titles that vary from their print counterparts. An attempt should be made in these cases to add a note and added entry for the title of the print version. Use a 530 note and add a 776 field.
530 CD-ROM ed. of: Current contents. Life sciences.
776 1 ‡tCurrent contents. Life sciences

If the CD-ROM includes more than one title, the note/tracing described above should also be applied.

530 CD-ROM ed. of: American statistics index; Statistical reference index; and: Index to international statistics. 776 1 ‡tAmerican statistics index
776 1 ‡tStatistical reference index
776 1 ‡tIndex to international statistics

538 (system requirements)

Contains system information about the equipment needed to run the CD-ROM. Use this information if included with the item and readily available:

System requirements: IBM PC or compatible; 4 MB RAM; MS-DOS 3.1 or higher; CD- ROM drive.

6xx (subject headings)

If the item is available in another format use the same subject headings if still valid.

Some Guidelines for Computer File Related Subject Subdivisions

Databases [Form subdivision]
Use under subjects as a form subdivision for actual databases or as a topical subdivision for works on databases on those subjects.

Software (H2070) [Form subdivision]
Use under topical headings for actual software items, i.e. machine-readable editions.

Computer programs (H 2070) Use under topical headings for works on computer programs, whether or not lists of machine instructions are included.

753 (technical details)

This is a searchable field that provides information about system requirements noted in the 538 field. We no longer use this field, but it may appear on older records.

780/785 (Continues:/Continued by: SERIALS ONLY)

If a CD ROM changes title, add appropriate continued by notes to the old title and treat the title change as a new title as per normal serial cataloging procedures.
NOTE: If a CD ROM is cumulative, however, you will have to delete the record for the previous title.


See CONSER Cataloging Manual, module 30 for more detailed information and examples.

Local information

Call number

CD-ROMs should be given accession numbers. Make a permanent card for the shelflist and use the next available number for the particular location. Catalogers should go up to the shelflist and do this themselves.

The accession number should appear in the 852 field on the holdings screen as: COMPUTER FILE 12
Always use capitals.


CD-ROMs are only to be placed in locations that have the appropriate computer equipment. This includes most branch libraries and the various reference locations. CD-ROMs and computer disks should never be assigned to Firestone stacks, except in the case of accompanying material.
FILMB is the designated location for CD-ROMs and computer disks not ordered by a specific location.
ELF2 is the CD-ROM tower designation. Send these materials to the Systems Office after cataloging.


No holdings data for serials are maintained in Technical Services for CD-ROM and computer disk titles. Add the following 866 note to the holdings record for all CD-ROMs and computer disks that are cumulative, i.e. for which each issue supersedes previous versions :


For true serials, the same note is added, except for FilmB. For FilmB titles add the issues being cataloged. Subsequent holdings will be maintained by FilmB. Other locations have the option of requesting that holdings be added after new issues are received. Exception: For CD-ROM's installed on a tower, DO NOT add any note or holdings. No holdings are included for these titles.

Post cataloging

Barcodes are not assigned or affixed to CD-ROMs and their associated documentation. For information on marking the item see: Physical Treatment and Marking of CD-ROMs, Sound Discs, Computer Disks. Make a printout of the OPAC record and mail it with the CD-ROMs and accompanying material to the appropriate location.