Category Archives: Collection Management

The Fine Art of Tweaking not Twerking Your Catalog

I don’t know about you, but I find it very frustrating when we run reports on books that are not circulating in our collection. Somehow, certain items never make the report but are always on the shelf. My “OCD” or “CDO” as I like to call it at times, sent me on a seek and find mission in our catalog. Oh what a fun challenge that was!

I wasn’t even sure where to begin. There are many reasons why our catalogs can become a real challenge. First of all, changing from the Galaxy system to the Polaris system caused issues because we were going from old school technology to new and improved online cataloging, which was a huge upgrade. Secondly, throughout the years there have been a few different catalogers working on records which can be like having too many cooks in the kitchen. In our defense, we are always striving to meet the needs of our patrons and staff. Sometimes that includes making new call numbers to satisfy new areas of interest or displays we are using.  Another issue occurs when people make changes to call numbers without going back and updating old ones. Without unification across the board, it causes confusion when running reports. I would like to share a couple of the things I am working on to update our catalog and make it more patron- as well as work-friendly.

The first thing I did was to check what call numbers were being used and do a lot of item bulk changes as well as adjusting bibliographic records to match each other. For example, we had holiday books two ways (E HOL FIC and E FIC HOL). These differences can make such a difference when running reports.

Sometimes that space bar can be a tricky little devil! If you bump it one time too many ….oh no! There’s an extra space added to the call number. I found this extra space will also throw off the reports.

Remember our job as catalogers not only entails entering the items, it also includes keeping the catalog current and easily accessible for our patrons! So I would like to challenge you to put on your headphones, twerk to some good jams, and tweak your catalog! See if you can find a way to improve your catalog!

-Kristi White, CPLS

Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County

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The ISBN Odometer Has Flipped …

Ah, the glorious years of the 2000s.  For the publishing world, probably the next big event on the horizon after Y2K was the introduction of the 13-digit ISBN (International Standard Book Number) on January 1, 2007.  From roughly 1970 until 2007, ISBNs were 10 digits in length, having evolved from the 9-digit Standard Book Numbering (SBN) code.  Since each edition or variant of a book published between that period was assigned a (mostly) unique ISBN, the supply of available 10-digit numbers was destined to run out.

The solution in 2007 was the introduction of the 13-digit ISBN, with prefix 978.  Why did we start with 978, you say?  Because the new format was meant to be compatible with the “Bookland” European Article Number (EAN), which also used 978.  And you guessed it: there were only so many 978- ISBNs to go around as well, particularly in the burgeoning e-publishing environment.

All of which leads to … the 979 ISBN prefix!  The first 979- ISBNs were actually issued in France in 2009, but my library saw its first print materials with this 13-digit format just this year.  A strange thing we noticed was that, when upgrading the MARC record in our shared cataloging “client” (ahem), inputting the 979- ISBN did not produce a 10-digit (shorter) equivalent as usual.  A little research led us to understand that this is perfectly normal: 979- ISBNs are not convertible to a 10-digit format and exist only in a 13-digit format.

So don’t be too surprised when the ISBN odometer flips for your materials.  It’s probably OK to keep driving.

— Michael Christian-Budd

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Self-publishing & libraries

Self-published books have become more common as technology has made self-publishing easier. For much of the twentieth century, self-published books were rejected out of hand by many libraries unless the author or topic were of local significance. But the ease of access to self-publishing tools and changes in the traditional publishing industry have made self-publication much more respectable.

Librarians are occasionally approached by authors who would like to make a gift of their self-published works to the library. This raises a number of questions for technical services librarians, and the “gift” can create considerable costs in terms of the staff time it takes to process the books. At the same time libraries are natural partners for patrons who need help researching, editing, and publicizing their works and learning the ropes of self-publication, distribution, etc.

Does your library have a written policy about how to handle self-published books?

Are you a librarian with experiences to share, advice to offer, or questions about handling self-published works and self-publishing authors?

Are you an author with experiences to share, advice to offer, or questions about how to work with libraries and librarians?

To start things off, I’ll mention that as a cataloger I frequently find that self-published books need original cataloging, and there also often a need to do the authority work to differentiate the names of the self-publishing author. For example, there is a fairly popular writer who uses the pseudonym “Silk White.” No other library had established an authorized form for his name, and there was inconsistency in the heading for his name in the OCLC records, so I had to determine whether the name was intended as phrase or first name/last name. I also discovered that my library has three versions of one of his novels (Married to da streets) all copyrighted 2006 and all sharing the same ISBN. The number of pages of these editions varied quite a bit (144, 190, and 240 pages) and one also has a 2007 publication date.  So, each edition needed a different bibliographic record. (Happily, Silk White has not released his subsequent novels in multiple versions.) So from a cataloging point of view, self-published books can present a number of challenges when it comes to simply identifying the work and author. But I’m curious about how new self-published titles are discovered and selected, and how libraries are addressing the trend from a collection building and collection management perspective.

Please leave a comment to join the conversation!


–Posted by Mike Monaco

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