Cartographic (Maps)

General Policies

Cartographic materials, including maps, atlases and globes that receive original cataloging are cataloged according to the latest full national standard for descriptive cataloging. For imprints published through 1800, the national standard is Descriptive Cataloging or Rare Materials (Cartographic), known as DCRM(C). For imprints published after 1800, the national standard is Resource Description and Access (RDA).

A good on-line resource for cataloging cartographic material is the Map Cataloger’s Toolbox.

For atlases that are not a composite atlas, see the Atlases cataloging instructions.

For cataloging composite atlases, see the Composite Atlases cataloging instructions.

Select MARC Fields

Leader and directory

06: Type of record. Use the value e (cartographic material).

07: Bibliographic level. Use the value m (monograph/item).

Control field: 008

06: Type of date. Coding choices are: s (single known date/probable date); m (multiple dates) multiple dates should only be used for a multi-sheet map with the sheets bearing different dates; or q (questionable).

07-10: Date 1. Give the earliest date, or single date, from the 264 field.

11-14: Date 2. Give the latest or closing date, if present, from the 264 field.

15: 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.

25: Type of cartographic material. Use the value a (map).

Variable Data Fields

In the 007, Physical Description Field (listed as a Fixed Field but appears in the record with variables), the “Map” selection should be applied, with the “Specific Material Designation” coded j: map. The remainder of the fields are usually coded as follows:

Color = a if the item is not colored; c if the item is issued with color.

Physical Medium = usually coded a: Paper

Type of Reproduction = code n: Not applicable

Production/Reproduction Detail = code z: Other

Positive/Negative Aspect = code n: Not applicable

In the 008 field, always note relief description, if applicable. Examples of techniques for showing relief can be found in Appendix R of DCRM(C).

034 - Coded Cartographic Mathematical Data

This field contains cartographic mathematical data, including scale, projection, and/or coordinates in coded form. Field 034 is based on information from field 255 (Cartographic Mathematical Data). Scale and coordinates are recorded in the bibliographic record in two places: in the 034 and the 255 fields. Always include both the scale and the coordinates in the 034 and 255 fields.

Scale - enter scale given in 255 without spaces or commas.

Coordinates - enter in decimal degrees (ddd.dddddd [hemisphere-degrees.decimal degrees]). Use the minus sign (“-”) for S and W. To convert latitude and longitude between decimal degrees and degrees, use the following utility:

034 1   ‡a a ‡b 590000 ‡d -110.000000 ‡e -053.000000 ‡f 042.000000 ‡g 003.000000

255     ‡a Scale approximately 1:590,000 ‡c (W 110°00ʹ00ʺ–W 53°00ʹ00ʺ/N 42°00ʹ00ʺ–N 3°00ʹ00ʺ).

043 - Geographic Area Code

Always provide a geographic code or codes; the choice of geographic code (or codes) is usually based on the geographic names and/or subdivisions in 6XX subject added entry and index term fields. For multiple codes, they are recorded in order of importance, which is generally the same order as the geographic names and/or subdivisions in the 6XX fields.

052 - Geographic classification

Always provide a geographic classification code which represents the geographic area and, if applicable, the geographic subarea and populated place name covered by an item. The geographic code can provide more precise geographic access than the codes contained in field 043 (Geographic Area Code). Each main geographic area code and any related subarea codes associated with the item are contained in a separate 052 field. Subfield ‡d (Populated Place Name) may contain the name of the geographic area.

Always use a geographic classification code derived from the Library of Congress Classification-Class G and expanded Cutter number lists for place names. The geographic classification code for maps contains a four to six-character numeric code that consists of the appropriate classification number from the range G3190-G9980 by dropping the letter G. Cutter numbers for place names in the United States are also published in Geographic Cutters. The Library of Congress maintains the Library of Congress Classification, Geographic Cutters, and the Cutter number lists.

255 - Cartographic Mathematical Data

This field contains mathematical data associated with cartographic material, including a statement of scale, statement of projection and/or a statement of bounding coordinates.

255     ‡a Scale 1:7,500,000 ‡c (W 76°30ʹ00ʺ–W 75°54ʹ00ʺ/N 37°03ʹ00ʺ–N 36°18ʹ00ʺ).

255     ‡a Scale approximately 1:2,000,000 ‡c (E 1°31ʹ00ʺ–E 19°20ʹ00ʺ/N 54°45ʹ00ʺ–N 45°11ʹ00ʺ).

255     ‡a Scale not given ‡c (W 100°00ʹ00ʺ–W 57°30ʹ00ʺ/N 38°40ʹ00ʺ–S 5°00ʹ00ʺ).

255     ‡a Scales differ. [For items with multiple maps of differing scales; i.e., an atlas. Do not include coordinates if there are multiple sets of coordinates.]

For further details in determining scale, see Appendix J of DCRM(C).

Coordinates - record coordinates in degrees, minutes, and seconds of the sexagesimal system (360° circle) taken from the Greenwich prime meridian; precede each coordinate by W, E, N, or S, as appropriate. Separate the two sets of longitude and latitude by a diagonal slash, neither preceded nor followed by a space.

255     ‡a Scale approximately 1:16,000,000 ‡c (W 100°00ʹ00ʺ–W 57°30ʹ00ʺ/N 38°40ʹ00ʺ–S 5°00ʹ00ʺ).

Select Rules from DCRM(C)

Early letter forms and transcription

Transcribe early letter forms according to section 0G. Transcription and Appendix G. Early Letter Forms and Symbols in DCRM(C).

Physical Description


5D1.1. Give the height x width of the map, etc., to the nearest centimeter, rounding a fraction of a centimeter up to the next full centimeter. When the map, etc., is placed in reading position, “height” is the top-bottom measurement and “width” is the left-right measurement.

5D1.2. Optionally, give the height x width to the nearest millimeter, expressed in tenths of a centimeter. Always give the first significant number after the decimal.

5D1.3. Give the measurements of the map, etc., based on the neat line rather than the size of the sheet. If any cartographic detail extends beyond the neat line, extend the measurement to include the cartographic detail. If there is no neat line or if the map, etc., bleeds off the edge of the sheet, measure the maximum extent of the cartographic detail.

5D1.4. Optionally, add the dimensions of the sheet, specified as such, to the map dimensions. As a matter of style and readability, do not repeat the word “on” in a statement of sheet size in the size and format element when the phrase “on sheet” is used in the extent element.


7A4. Local versus general notes

7A4.1. Carefully distinguish local notes (which record copy-specific information for material issued or produced in multiple copies) from general notes (which record information valid for all copies of the material being cataloged). By their nature, unique items such as manuscript maps cannot exist in multiple copies, and thus will have only general notes. For many older materials, it will not be readily ascertainable whether the characteristics of a single copy are in fact shared by other copies. In case of doubt, consider that the characteristics of the copy in hand are not shared by other copies and therefore use local notes.

Restriction on access notes (506) precede copy specific notes (590). All other notes follow. Restriction on access notes (506) and copy specific notes (590) always begin with BEIN [call no.]: Line-breaks in call numbers are indicated by spaces.

If the copy specific information is not extensive, a single 590 note per copy suffices. For clarity’s sake, several copy specific notes for the same copy may be made, each beginning with BEIN [call no.]. This is the case with long runs of serials with issues which have come from numerous sources with various provenance. In general note the copy specific information in the order given below.

Order of notes


Restriction on access

Copy Specific Notes

Bibliographical variants (590 in combination with 500)
Imperfections (590)
Copy number of limited edition (590)
Hand Colored (for item-specific coloring)
Provenance (590)
Binding information (590)
Bound-with notes(590)
In case with notes (590)
Manuscript material in printed works (590)
Material shelved separately (590)

General Notes

Bibliographical variants (500 sometimes in combination with 590)
Relief Note (500)
Bar Scale (500)
From/Appears In (500)
Citations of standard bibliographies (510)
Summary note (520)

7B1.4. Relief. If relief is present on the map, always add a 500 relief description note if not already in record.

500     ‡a Relief shown by hachures.

Examples of techniques for showing relief can be found in Appendix R of DCRM(C).

Notes on Source of Map

Follow DCRM(C)’s Appendix M. Notes on Source of Map for guidance on making notes to identify the source of a map when the item either appears to have been physically separated from a larger work (its original host item) or appears to be identical with a component part of that larger work.

Bibliographic references

Cite a list or bibliography when it would serve to distinguish an edition (or variant) from similar editions (or variants), when it would substantiate information provided by the cataloger, or when it would provide a more detailed description of the publication being cataloged.
See Cartographic Materials Bibliographies for those bibliographies most often cited.

Access Points

Name and Title Access Points (1xx, 246, 7xx)

All name and title access points required by the latest national standards are made. Generous name access points are made to bring out contributors such as editors, engravers, printers, cartographers, surveyors, publishers and issuing bodies.

Library of Congress Subject Headings (6xx)

For items receiving full-level cataloging, subject headings are assigned according to the latest edition of LC Subject Headings and the LC Subject Headings Manual. Catalogers should include the following:

651   0 ‡a [Geographic name] ‡v Maps.

For more information on using the subdivision, ‡v Maps, see Subject Headings Manual H1685 - Maps and Atlases.

If the cartographic material is a railroad map, add subject:

650   0 ‡a Railroads ‡z [Geographic name] ‡v Maps.

For pre-1800 material, add subdivision ‡v Early works to 1800.

651   0 ‡a [Geographic name] ‡v Maps ‡v Early works to 1800.

Local Tracings

In addition to all applicable standard LC subject headings, local tracings for provenance, chronology, binding and imprint are made when called for by local policies

Genre/Form Tracings

Always add a Library of Congress genre/form tracing. The default tracing is:

655   7 ‡a Maps. ‡2 lcgft

If a more specific tracing from the below list is applicable, use it instead of the default tracing. For example:

655   7 ‡a Topographic maps. ‡2 lcgft

For select definitions of the following genre/form tracings, search the appropriate term at the Library of Congress Subject Headings site.

Aerial photographs
Aerial views
Aeronautical charts
Astronomical models
Bathymetric maps
Cadastral maps (use in place of “Plat maps”)
Celestial charts
Children’s maps
Comparative maps
Digital maps
Fire insurance maps
Geological cross-sections
Loran charts
Manuscript maps
Mappae mundi (used for early medieval world maps)
Meteorological charts
Military maps (a map designed particularly for military use)
Mine maps
Miniature maps
Nautical charts
Outline maps
Physical maps
Pictorial maps
Plotting charts
Portolan charts
Quadrangle maps
Relief models
Road maps
Statistical maps
Stick charts
Strip maps
Thematic maps
Topographic maps
Tourist maps
Wall maps
World maps
Worm’s-eye views

Certain form and genre terms are always added when called for by local practice. Other applicable standard form and genre terms may be added on a case by case basis when this does not slow down cataloging productivity and are generally retained if present in copy.

For a map which shows California as an island, use the following tracing; do not subdivide geographically or by date.

655   7 ‡a California as an island. ‡2 local