Fundamentals of Cataloging

Description: This 6-week online course is a basic primer for library cataloging concepts and practices. It covers:

  • principles underlying cataloging practice;
  • examples illustrating the principles in practice;
  • tools used in cataloging practice such as AACR2, RDA, Library of Congress Subject Headings, Library of Congress Classification, MARC, OCLC, BIBFRAME;
  • processes used by catalogers in creating bibliographic records.

Fundamentals of Cataloging (FOC) begins with a discussion of how cataloging assists users in finding resources and of the value of standardization of practice. These foundations are then given practical grounding in the work of creating bibliographic descriptions, the process of subject analysis, and summarizing content utilizing classification. Standards such as MARC bibliographic and authority formats, Library of Congress Subject Headings and Library of Congress Classification are discussed. The shift in focus from format-based cataloging to entity-relationship model cataloging is taken from the FRBR foundation to the RDA practical application, with a final look at RDF triples and BIBFRAME. In all areas, the value of standards is illustrated and discussed. There is a heavy reliance on examples from actual practice throughout the course content.

2023 Sessions

This course is offered by Core several times each year. You only need to take one of the sessions, since the course content is the same. You may register for either of the sessions. Sessions tend to sell out weeks in advance.

Click on a date range to register for that session.

Format:  Students receive login instructions one week prior to the course start date. Students have 24/7 access to the course site for the 6-week period, and aside from assignment and quiz deadlines, the course may be completed at their own pace.  Instructors provide guidance and feedback as students work their way through the course material. Weekly, instructor-moderated chat sessions are the only live course events that students are asked to attend.

Weekly Chat Schedule:  The following times are tentative and may change according to instructor availability.

  • Week 1: Thursday at 1:00 pm CT
  • Week 2: Thursday at 1:00 pm CT
  • Week 3: Thursday at 1:00 pm CT
  • Week 4: Thursday at 1:00 pm CT
  • Week 5: Thursday at 1:00 pm CT
  • Week 6: Thursday at 1:00 pm CT

Learning Outcomes

Students will gain a basic understanding of library cataloging concepts and practices.

Who Should Attend

As a fundamentals course, FOC is tailored for librarians and library support staff new to cataloging, librarians and library support staff from other units who want to know more about cataloging, and experienced cataloging librarians and library support staff seeking continuing education and networking opportunities.

Cataloging librarians in countries other than the U.S. and library school students or graduates developing skills to help get a job or identify areas of interest in library work may also benefit from this course.


  • Marcia H. Barrett is the MARC Metadata Strategies Librarian at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
  • Debbie Benrubi is Head of Metadata and Collection Management at University of San Francisco.
  • Bobby Bothmann is the Metadata & Emerging Technologies Librarian and Professor at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
  • Aiping Chen-Gaffey is the Bibliographic Services Librarian at Slippery Rock University.
  • Jen Froetschel is the Metadata Services Librarian at George Washington University.
  • Lynn Gates is the Director of Cataloging & Metadata Services at University of Colorado Colorado Springs. 
  • Nincy George is the Cataloging Services Manager at RAILS.
  • Teressa Keenan is the Head of Collections and Metadata Services at University of Montana, Missoula.
  • Sofia Slutskaya is the Head, Resource Description at Emory University Library.
  • Shannon Tennant is the Coordinator of Library Collections at Elon University in North Carolina.



  • $196.71 Core members;
  • $224.10 ALA members;
  • $249 non-members

How to Register

Register for session 1 online.

Register by Mail

Register by mail using the print registration form. Tip: If you’re unable to open this “register by mail” link, right-click the link and save the form to your computer.


For registration related questions, call 1-800-545-2433 to speak to our customer service representatives.

Registration Deadline

Registration for each course is limited to 25 people. For courses that are not sold out, online and fax registration ends at 12 noon CDT on the Monday before the course begins. Mailed registration forms must be postmarked by two Mondays prior to the course start date.

Core Code of Conduct

Please review the Statement of Conduct before registering.

Tech Requirements

A Moodle-developed site is composed of self-paced modules with facilitated interaction led by the instructors. There are predetermined start and end dates and a suggested pace which include interaction with the instructors and your classmates. Students regularly use the forum and chat room functions to facilitate their class participation. Section quizzes are offered and feedback given, however, there is no final class grade.

The course website will be open for 1 week prior to the start date for students to have access to Moodle instructions and set their browser correctly. It will remain open 1 week after the end date for students to complete any sections and submit the course evaluation survey.


Contact Hours - 24 hours

Core defines contact hours in line with the IACET standards on Continuing Education Units.

Certificates of completion are sent upon successful completion (passing score of 70% or higher) of the course.


For questions about registration, contact ALA Registration by calling 1-800-545-2433 or email

For all other questions or comments related to the webinars, please contact


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