Original Cataloging of Belles-Lettres

What is belles-lettres? Literature written for its own sake and not merely informative. Literally, belles-lettres is a French phrase meaning “beautiful” or “fine” writing. What forms does it take? Chiefly three: prose, poetry, and drama.


Type of Record: a (language material)
Bibliographic Level: m (monograph/item)
Type of Control: _ (no specific type of control)
Encoding Level: _ (Full level)
Cataloging Form: i (ISBD punctuation included)

008 – Fields

Type of date:
s (single known date/probable date). A single year is on the item/a probable, approximate, or conjectural date that can be represented by four digits
t (Publication date and copyright date). The item has a publication date and a copyright date. Enter the year of publication in the Date 1 field and the year of copyright notice in the Date 2 field.
r (Reprint/original date). Enter reprint/reissue date in Date 1 and date of original in Date 2.
q (questionable date). A range of years is the only date that can be specified (e.g. between 1827 and 1830). Give the earliest year in Date 1 and the latest in Date 2.
Country of publication: Give the code corresponding to the place transcribed, or supplied, in the 264 field. Do not leave the place of publication as unknown; always try to make a determination of place.


Choose an appropriate code, e.g. eng [English], fre [French], ger [German], etc.
Cataloging Source: d (other)
Literary form: 1 (Fiction), d (Dramas), f (Novels), h (Humor, satire, etc.), j (Short stories), or p (Poetry)

020 – International Standard Book Number

Record the ISBDN if present on the item. Enter each valid ISBDN in a separate 020 field. Do not include hyphens, periods, or spaces. If the final character is a lowercase x, enter an uppercase X.

040 – Cataloging Source

‡a CtY-BR ‡b eng ‡e rda ‡c CtY-BR

1xx – Preferred access point (personal name or corporate name)

A 1xx is appropriate when the material has a personal author or emanates from a single corporate body. Each record can have only one 1xx.

In the case of personal names, the form will be:
100 1_ ‡a LastName, FirstName, ‡e author. (or photographer, artist, etc. Refer to RDA I.2.1)

In the case of corporate names, the form will be:
110 2_ ‡a NameOfOrganization, ‡e author.

Check to see if the person or corporation is already in the catalog. (If you are in the 1xx field, you can press Ctrl+h, and Voyager will tell you they are authorized or if they are in the catalog.)
If there is no match in the catalog, check the Library of Congress Name Authority File. If the name is not established in LCNAF, use the form of the name found on the item in your 1xx field.

Preferred Source of Information

The preferred source of information for printed textual monographs is the title page. If the manifestation lacks a title page, use as the preferred source of information the first of the following sources that has a title: a cover or jacket issued with the item, a caption, a masthead, a colophon. If a source other than a title page is used as the preferred source of information, make a note on the source of the title proper.

245 – Title and statement of responsibility

The 245 is a transcribed field. The entire title proper (245 ‡a) must be transcribed exactly from the title page in terms of word order and spelling, although not necessarily in terms of capitalization and punctuation. Do not correct inaccuracies in a title and transcribe them as they appear on the source of information. Make a separate note giving the corrected form (Title should read …). If other title information (245 ‡b) is transcribed, it too should match exactly what is on the title page. The statement of responsibility (245 ‡c) may be transcribed from any source within the resource itself. It should include any non-essential information, such as a person’s titles or degrees. Full names should be transcribed as they appear, along with any words appearing with the name, such as “by” or “and.”

250 – Edition statement

Examine the book for an edition statement. An edition statement can be taken from any source within the resource, but a statement found in the same source as the title proper is preferred. The edition statement in the 250 field should be fully transcribed as it is on the piece. 

264 - Publication Statement

Examine the resource for publication information, including place of publication, publisher, and date of publication. Prefer information found in the same source as the title proper. Information taken from outside the resource itseld needs to be bracketed. Publication information is recorded in the 264 field, with the second indicator coded “1”. Transcribe the place of publication (264 _1
‡a) exactly as found in the resource. Only the first place of publication is required, additional places are optional. If no place is found in the resource either supply information from another source or make an educated guess as to the country of publication. Do not leave the place of publication as unknown.

264 _1 ‡a San Diego, CA
264 _1‡a London ; ‡a Toronto
264 _1 ‡a [United States?]

Transcribe the first publisher associated with the first place of publication exactly as found in the resource. Transcribing additional publishers is optional. If no publisher is found in the resource either supply (in brackets) information about the publisher from another source, or record [publisher not identified].

264 _1 ‡a San Diego, CA : ‡b [publisher not identified]
264 _1  ‡a London : ‡b J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd ; ‡a Toronto : ‡b E.P. Dutton & Co.

Record the date of publication. If no date date of publication is found in the resource either supply (in bracket) information found in another source or infer a date. Do not leave the date of publication as unknown. Dates can be supplied as follows:

Actual: ‡c [2010]
Either one of two consecutive years: ‡c [2009 or 2010?]
Probable year: ‡c [2010?]
Probable range of years: ‡c [between 2008 and 2010?]
Earliest and/or latest possible date known: ‡c [not before 2010]

A copyright date (264 _4 ‡c © can never be substituted for a publication date, but it may be optionally recorded in addition to the date of publication. It may also be used as evidence for inferring the date of publication:

264 _1 ‡c [2010]
264_4 ‡c ©2010

264 – Distribution and Printing Statement

The elements of the distribution statement (264 _2) and the printing statement (264 _3) are not required. However, if any of the three elements of the publication statement are not available, the corresponding element in the distribution/manufacture statement becomes a required element and if available must be transcribed/recorded:

264 _1 ‡a Providence : ‡b [publisher not identified], ‡c 2010.
264 _2 ‡a Boston : ‡b KL, Inc., ‡c [2010]

300 – Statement of extent

Record the last number of each sequence followed by “pages”, “leaves”, of “columns”, as appropriate, in ‡a. The form of numbers can change within a sequence. For example, a book with pages that are numbered i-xxx and then 31-500 has only one sequence. Leaves or pages of plates are recorded in ‡a after the extent element separated by a comma. Illustrative content can be recorded in ‡b. Record the height of the volume in centimeters in subfield ‡c. Round up to the next centimeter if the measurement is even slightly over (e.g., 22.1 cm. is recorded as 23 cm). Also record the width ( e.g. 31 x 10 cm) if it is less than half of the height of the volume, or greater than the height of the volume. Record accompanying material in subfield ‡e. Accompanying material may also be recorded in a second 300 field or in a 500 note. If the item is lacking significant accompanying material, consult with Rare Book Cataloging staff.

Content, media, carrier (336, 337, 338)

336    ‡a text ‡2 rdacontent
337    ‡a unmediated ‡2 rdamedia
338    ‡a volume ‡2 rdacarrier

4xx – Series statement

Note: YUL policy is to use the 490/8XX combination for all traced series. 
Series statements are transcribed from the publication; all words in the series statement in the record, including initial articles, should be as they appear in the item. Series subtitles and statements of responsibility for the series may or may not be transcribed in the record. An ISSN (International Standard Series Number) may be interposed in a subfield ‡x between the series title and the volume number. Abbreviations are allowed for volume captions and numbering.

500 – General notes

Transcribe in full any limitation statement as given on a resource.
Note when the item is issued in a case.

590 – Copy Specific Notes

Notes not used in the cataloging record
The following are generally not noted unless required to distinguish variants or bring out important aspects of the work or copy.

  • Unopened. (590)
  • Head and tail pieces, initials, decorative work. (500)
  • Title pages in red and black. (500)
  • Title vignette; if not a part of the illustrative matter. (500)
  • Variations in binding. (This note is usually made when an additional copy or copies are added). (590)

655 – Genre/Form Terms

Assign a genre/form term, if applicable, from the list frequently used in Beinecke cataloging.
See Genre/Form Terms
When a 655 is added, always add a 752 Hierarchical Place Name field.

69x – Provenance

Add name tracings for provenance information. More complete information can be found at Provenance Notes and Tracings.
The coding for provenance tracings is 692 04 and 692 14 for personal names, 693 24 for corporate names, or 693 14 for corporate headings beginning with a jurisdiction, followed by a ‡x subdivision indicating the nature of the provenance evidence.
The following subdivisions are authorized for provenance tracings:

‡x Autograph.
‡x Bookplate.
‡x Ms. notes.
‡x Ownership. [Used when no provenance evidence is in item]
‡x Presentation inscription to [forename initials] [surname].
‡x Presentation inscription from [forename initials] [surname].
‡x Presentation inscription. [Used when source is not specified or identified]
‡x Stamp.

Search the name in Orbis to determine how it has been used on bibliographic records. Use the authorized form (i.e., the form on the authority record) of the name if there is one. If one does not exist, use the form that has been used in Orbis. If the name has not been used in Orbis, construct a simple heading using the form found in the book.


A translation requires additional elements in the catalog record:
Include a 041 field stating the language of the translation in ‡a and the original language in ‡h.  041 1_   ‡a eng ‡h ita for an English translation of an Italian original
041 1_ ‡a spa ‡h und for a Spanish translation of an undetermined original
Record a preferred title (240) with the original title followed by ‡l and the language of the translation. Check Voyager and OCLC.  If no original title can be found, do not include the 240 field. Include an added entry (700) for the translator.