Yale University Library Manuscript Cataloging Guidelines

This manual is maintained by the Yale Archival and Manuscript Description Committee. Please direct comments to Alison Clemens (chair).


This manual was created by the Manuscript Cataloging Committee, a precursor to the Archival and Manuscript Description Committee, in response to a need for Yale-wide manuscript cataloging policies. A first version, based on the Beinecke Library's Orbis Cataloging Manual: Mixed Materials Format, was completed in 2006 and addressed collection-level cataloging only. Instructions for single manuscript cataloging were added in 2010. Links to the Beinecke Library's local manuscript cataloging decisions were added in 2011. Guidelines for RDA-compliant name and uniform title headings were added in 2013.

Guidelines in this manual reflects past and current practice of repositories represented on the committee: Arts, Arts of the Book, Beinecke, Divinity, Historical Medical, Manuscripts and Archives, and Music. Guidelines are intended to establish common ground among manuscript catalogers at Yale, by setting standard policies and presenting options and best practices. Field definitions include only those MARC fields, subfields, indicators, and codes which are most commonly used in manuscript cataloging. For complete MARC definitions, see the Library of Congress MARC standards website.

This manual provides information on the creation and maintenance of Orbis records for manuscript collections and single manuscripts using record type p (mixed materials). Specific procedures for inputting and editing records conform to national standards (such as DACS, DCRM(MSS), LCAF, and LCSH) and Yale's general cataloging policies. Instructions in the main text address cataloging of manuscript collections with finding aids, and most are also applicable to other types of manuscript cataloging. Each section includes links to instructions for cataloging single manuscripts and collections without finding aids and links to the Beinecke Library's local manuscript cataloging decisions. Links are active when instructions are available; inactive links will be updated as these additional instructions are created. Criteria for cataloging manuscripts individually or as a collection, with or without a finding aid, are locally determined.

In cases where field names differ slightly between Voyager and MARC documentation, Voyager names are used. Some display constants defined by MARC indicator codes are not available in Voyager; see "Orbis Public Display Constant" in each field definition. While most common situations are covered, staff needing guidance on specific situations should consult Library of Congress MARC standards or other documentation (see Appendix F: Reference Sources), lead catalogers in each unit, or the Manuscript Cataloging Committee.

Orbis is Yale University's integrated library management system. There are several ways to input and upgrade records in Orbis: direct input, electronic transfer from OCLC, and copying a record already in Orbis. This manual contains instructions for creating original records directly in Orbis and exporting records to OCLC and MARS (OCLC Automated Authority Control). Also included are instructions for searching existing authority records and gathering information needed to create new authority records. Catalogers who have completed training may create or update authority records through the Name Authority Cooperative Project (NACO).

A typical catalog record consists of a bibliographic record, one or more associated holdings records (MARC format for holdings, or mfhd, pronounced "muffhead"), and possibly one or more item records. The bibliographic record contains an author, title, subject headings and description of the item, as appropriate, and the mfhd contains the location and call number. Item records, not used by all repositories, contain barcodes governing circulation to readers or to offsite shelving.

Orbis records are input in the Voyager cataloging module. When records are saved, the Voyager system generates indexing and OPAC field labels (e.g. Title: or Notes:), as determined by Yale-wide policy. The Voyager system also assigns and indexes separate record ID numbers for each bibliographic, mfhd, and item record.

The following symbols are used in this manual:

_ = blank space
‡ = subfield delimiter

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Introduction top
Manuscript Cataloging Guidelines
Appendix A: Single Manuscript Instructions
Beinecke Manuscript Cataloging Manual