Friday, August 7, 2009

A Question about Cataloging and Local Control

This month marks my fourth year making software for libraries. I readily admit to being something of a novice in the library space. I offer that disclaimer to blunt any suspicion of ill intent behind an informal one-question survey I’m taking:

Why do you still do local cataloging?

I don’t mean that as a leading question, I honestly want to know. We’re long past the days when individual libraries typed up their own cards. The quality of bibliographic records available from aggregate sources (jobbers, publishers, OCLC, etc.) generally sound. Most people I talk to, though, still do quite a bit of local cataloging so I’m interested in getting a sample of current local practice.

Are you working with local collections that aren’t available from jobbers, publishers, LoC, or OCLC? Do you have local standards that require editing of delivered records? Is there a cost advantage with local work?

Jared Oates
Director of Product Strategy, Engineering


  1. "The quality of bibliographic records available from aggregate sources (jobbers, publishers, OCLC, etc.) generally sound." I couldn't disagree more with this statement. Unauthorized subject headings, misuse of Marc tags (particularly the fixed fields), and some really strange interpretations of the "author" of a film mean we'll probably be doing local cataloging forever in order to ensure acceptable public access to our material.

    By the way, the irony of the missing "is" in your statement above is not lost on me. And I'm not even a cataloger.

  2. Interesting. Thanks for the comment, Lynn.
    Pity the machine that ever tries to read my writing :)

  3. 'Round here it's largely local collections. Occassionally works that we only have rights to locally, so sharing them would make no sense and finding records in the cloud would be unlikely.

    We primarily mine OCLC, but everything has to come from somewhere, so at some point someone has to catalog every item, so the question is: Do you consider it local cataloging if you are uploading your record to one of those sources? If everyone waits for a record to appear in the cloud, then everyone will be waiting a long time.

    And sometimes the record is already in the catalog in a less-then-perfect form. The options are a multi-step overlay process or edit the record right in the catalog. And once you've edited it locally, sharing it back to the cloud is something that's far from seamless in the ILS as near as I can tell.