Core Fields

Part of a cataloger’s job is balancing competing priorities. We strive for accuracy and completeness in our bib records while working within the constraints of limited resources—time, workload, staffing, etc. New catalogers learn pretty quickly that it’s impossible to achieve completeness without sacrificing turnaround time. That’s why it’s useful to approach our work with a practical mindset, focusing the resources we have on the most valuable parts of the record in terms of search results. In other words, we’re looking for the most bang for the buck.

The major cataloging standards (RDA, AACR2, Library of Congress, & OCLC) acknowledge and address this need through the concept of Minimal-Level Cataloging, or the minimum set of fields required to identify a resource. Catalogers apply the concept of minimal-level cataloging through “core fields,” which can vary by library type and discovery needs.

In the video tutorial Core Fields, I suggest a set of fields for a standard book bib record and walk through how to complete them. This video is meant for new catalogers or any catalogers looking to maximize their time while still creating quality bib records that support discovery.

This video is fourth in the ongoing Cataloging Fundamentals video series, one component of the Cataloging Fundamentals Program. If you have ideas for a future video or about how to support new catalogers in Colorado, please drop me a line at

Happy cataloging!

Amy Hitchner
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