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In the early 1970s the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutes created a general framework for a way of standardizing the way of describing items being cataloged. The IFLA agreed upon the general framework and in 1977 it was published. International Standard Bibliographic Description, usually abbreviated ISBD was the result. This system is used by catalogers in the library for use in computer based library catalogs.

The ISBD system has specific rules for different types of materials. These types include:

The Anglo-American cataloging rules second edition uses a description technique based on the ISBD(G).

The description itself is divided into eight areas. Some items require all eight while others only need some of them. When only some are needed the record only includes those. The areas are:

Standard number and terms of availability

Each area of the description contains a number of elements. The rules in the AACR2, Part 1 describe the elements of each area in detail.

Punctuation is very important in ISBD. There are three purposes for the punctuation. First being the beginning of each area. Second reason being to separate the elements within each area. Third is to identify particular elements by the punctuation that precedes them. Punctuation comes before each area and element within an area.

The punctuation marks that are used in ISBD are:

. (full stop)
, (comma)
: (colon)
; (semicolon)
- (hyphen)
— (dash)
/ (diagonal OR slash)
[   ] (square brackets)
( ) (parenthesis)
… (marks of omission)
? (question mark)
= (equals sign)
+ (plus sign)

The rules for how to use punctuation in ISBDs are standardized. The first general rule is that each are is separated by a period, space, or a new line. Notes are usually put as a separate paragraph for easier readability. A second general rule is that square brackets indicate information which has been taken from outside the “preferred sources” for cataloging. A third one is that three periods indicates an omission. This is done when there is a lot of unneeded information or the title or other information is extremely long. The fourth is that parentheses are used for different purposes in different areas. Finally, each area uses its own punctuation symbols to identify the elements within the area.

Here is a general ISBD outline for a Monograph:

Title proper = parallel title : other title information / first statement of responsibility ; each subsequent statement of responsibility. – Edition statement / statement of responsibility relating to the edition. – Place of publication : publisher, date of publication. – Pagination : illustration ; dimensions + accompanying material. – (series)
ISBN : price (qualification).

Introduction to Cataloging class notes
Learn Descriptive Cataloging by Mary Mortimer

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