Wednesday, December 3, 2008

From Warehouse to Our House - Part 4

How items are added to the Dick Smith Library Collection
Part 4 - Cataloging

Cataloging is a complex and sometimes confusing process. The goal is completeness and consistency, the latter so that one would (ideally) find the same basic information about the same item in whatever library one uses.

Catalog Librarian Melissa Cookson starts by wheeling a cart of newly-acquired items into her office. Most of the items are new additions to our library (rather than additional copies of something we already have, which require less cataloging). If the item is an EXACT match to something already in our collection (a second copy of the same edition, for example), she can skip down to the last step discussed below, adding another item record. If it’s not an exact match, a new bibliographic record must be added.

Melissa works with SmartPort, a part of Sirsi Workflows, our integrated library system (the software that drives our circulation and catalog systems). SmartPort links Workflows with OCLC (Online Computer Library Center), a global, nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization, that provides, among other services, a bibliographic utility for libraries to share catalog records.

Melissa says, “I first do a search (usually on ISBN – International Book Standard Number) for the item. I look for a bibliographic record that is DLC (created/edited by the Library of Congress), has a call number, and matches the item in hand (title, author, publisher, year, edition).” She will try different searches (such as author or title, particularly if the item does not have an ISBN) to find the record that is the best possible match.

If she finds something she can work with, she posts our holding while she’s connected to OCLC through SmartPort. This is what allows you to search WorldCat, an online catalog of libraries worldwide that are members of OCLC, and see that Tarleton State University has the item. Then she captures the record, which loads it into Workflows, either adding it to our catalog system or overlaying a record already there (if one was created during the ordering process). Melissa adds, “If I can’t find something I can work with, then I’ll have to create a new record, either based on one that’s close to what I want, or entirely from scratch. This is a very time-consuming process, but I don’t have to do it often.”

The next step is to edit the local bibliographic record (which is not reflected in the record you see in WorldCat). Melissa checks “just about everything” in the MARC record that was downloaded through SmartPort. MARC is MAchine Readable Cataloging, a standardized format developed by the Library of Congress for the representation and communication of bibliographic and related information of a cataloging record. The format facilitates storage, retrieval, and editing of bibliographic records in computerized (automated) library systems. “It’s all very nitpicky,” she says, but it’s important.

She then adds the 590 (a local) field to the record, which includes the date received, vendor, funding source, selector (if applicable), and item cost that were written in the book's gutter across from the copyright page (or, for audiovisual items, on the library pocket that was inserted) during receiving, as well as the barcode number. Two barcodes stickers are added to the item – one to the top right corner of the front cover, and one to the pocket that will be stuck inside the item.

She also writes the call number in the book on the page after the title page (usually – on the library pocket for AV items). The call numbers either come from OCLC or are generated by Melissa for bibliographic records she creates from scratch, sometimes with the help of a free online tool called The Cataloging Calculator. If the item is part of a particular collection (such as curriculum, audiovisuals, local history, or reference,) or of a particular type (CD, DVD, audiobook, teacher resource book, etc.), that becomes part of the beginning of the call number – for example, AV AUDIO for audiobooks, EDUC REF for reference books in the Curriculum Collection, etc.

The last step is to add the item record in Workflows, which will correspond with the barcode (one item record per barcode). Melissa includes the item’s price, barcode, the vendor if it’s Blackwell, and whether or not it’s a new title. She also assigns item type – most things are books, but we also have audiobooks, CDs, DVDs, maps, reference materials, and so on. The home and current location at this point is still INPROCESS. This is “where” the item will show up as being when you check our online catalog. Later the home location will be changed to wherever the item “lives” (Stacks on the third floor, Reference on the main floor, or the various collections on the lower level) – but that will happen in the next step, processing (next week!).

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