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The Numbers Game!

Let’s play! 

An ISBN, or International Standard Book Number, is a controlled identification number (10 or presently 13-digits) which allows libraries, publishers, educational institutions, and, vendors, to identify specific books and book-like things.  Now, challenge yourself with some finer points.  Statements are True or False. Test your awareness before reading the remark that follows.

1. An ISBN validates that the book has been copyrighted.

ISBNs are administered by a private company for the purpose of book trade. Copyright is administered by Library of Congress and relates to intellectual property law. (False)

2. Self-published materials should have ISBNs.

ISBNs are considered to be essential, if the author intends to offer the book for distribution, purchase or placement in a library. (True)

3. 13-digit ISBNs will always start with “978”.

In 2007, ISBNs changed from 10-digits to 13-digits.  The 13-digit ISBNs all began with the number sequence “978”. In 2020, Bowker, the primary U.S. source for ISBNs, no longer has sets (or blocks) of 978 number sequence identifiers available. So, Bowker has started issuing ISBNs beginning with “979”. Publishers, however, who had acquired blocks of “978” numbers previously and have a good supply of them on hand, are likely to be using them up for a few more years.  (False)

4. Different forms of a book can all share the same ISBN.

Each format needs a unique ISBN, whether it is regular print, large print, or an audiobook. A book translated into a different language needs a unique ISBN.  New editions of books need different ISBNs also.  (False)

5. A book that is going to be reprinted by a different printer and distributed by a different distributor needs a new ISBN.

 A book with no significant alteration to the text may be reprinted and distributed using the original ISBN, even if the printer and distributor change. (False)

6. ISBNs can expire and be reused.

ISBNs never expire and are not intended to be reused. (False)

7. DVDs can be issued ISBNs.

If a DVD is instructional or educational, then the DVD is eligible for an ISBN.  If the DVD is for entertainment or performance, then technically, it should not get an ISBN.  Sometimes the retail market persuades publishers to bend on this in order to manage product identification. (True)

8. An ISBN on a book is the same thing as its barcode.

Although you may see the ISBN printed above a barcode, they are not alike.  The barcode is derived from the ISBN (which is a constant) and can also include pricing and currency form (so this portion can change).  (False)

9. ISBNs can only be purchased from Bowker.

 ISBNs are used throughout the world.  Countries have different systems for issuing them. In the United States, ISBNs can be purchased directly from Bowker (starting at $125 each and getting much cheaper in bulk). Private publishers also can purchase ISBNs in blocks or sets from Bowker and administer their use.  All titles and ISBNs must be registered (through Bowker). Barcodes can be obtained after title/ISBNs are registered. Amazon issues free ISBNs for print material that they publish; however, they also impose further restrictions the material usage. ISBNs issued by Amazon for print material also have a matching ASIN, or Amazon Standard Identification Number. (False)

                How did you do?  It’s always fun to gather new information! And, speaking of fun and new information… remember that the OLC Technical Services Retreat is coming up April 15 and 16th , 2020  in Columbus.  Hope to see you there!

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2020 Technical Services Retreat: Moving Forward with 2020 Vision

You’re invited to join your colleagues for the Ohio Library Council’s biennial 2020 Technical Services Retreat, an educational event that strikes the perfect balance between the big picture and focused, practical topics.

Libraries focus on offering open and affordable access to resources despite changing budgets, expectations, and environments. The 2020 Technical Services Retreat will highlight innovative approaches, clear visions, and fresh perspectives for the future.

This two-day event draws technical services specialists from libraries and related organizations to learn, share, and network in a relaxed and productive campus environment.

2020 Technical Services Retreat: Moving Forward with 2020 Vision
April 15-16, 2020
Nationwide Hotel and Conference Center (Lewis Center)
Columbus, Ohio

Registration Fees:
Member: $235 | Non-member $470 (Registration opens Feb. 19, 2020)

Continuing Education Credits: For those working toward their Ohio Public Librarian or Ohio Public Library Staff re-certification, this two-day event counts as 12 hours of credit.

The Retreat is sponsored by the OLC’s Technical Services Division:

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Graphic Novel Call Numbers

I am wrapping up purchasing for the year so I did a big graphic novel order last week. This is a collection that I’m feeling really good about lately because a member approached me this fall when I was covering the reference desk and raved to me about Medina’s graphic novels. She told me she tells all her friends to come here for these items, and she and I bonded over the fact that there are so many amazing graphic novel biographies, memoirs, and diverse stories these days. Then I told her that I am the person responsible for selecting all titles in that collection and to let me know if there’s ever something she’d like to see added, and she pretty much melted into a puddle of joy and gratitude. The point is this was a truly life affirming moment and I may have shed a tear like a proud mama in the privacy of my office.

Circling back around to my grand intention here, I do still have some personal questions about cataloging graphic novels.

When I build a cart for a graphic novel order in Bibz I manually type in the call number so that what I have chosen comes processed correctly on the spines of these items. For series the call number will be, for example, “GRAPHIC SAGA” or “GRAPHIC BATMAN.” For all other standalone titles I assign the author’s last name: “GRAPHIC WILLIAMS.”

To make this collection as accessible as possible (and maintain my own personal glow from that praise I received) I’m wondering if there’s another way y’all assign call numbers for graphic novels. I’m a big fan of simplicity so I’m not wont to create too many rules, but I’m interested in others’ ideas.

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OLC Convention & Expo 2020: Developing Greatness

The Ohio Library Council’s Convention & Expo Program Committee is currently accepting program proposals. C&E 2020 will be held in Columbus, Ohio, October 28-30, 2020.

The Program Committee has reached out to our Technical Services Division to solicit quality tech services-related programming, and we would like to extend that call to the wider community. Please consider submitting a program form at

Do you have an idea but aren’t able to present it yourself? Feel free to contact the Tech Services Division at any time with your recommendations or questions.

The Call for Programs for C&E 2020 is open through February 3, 2020.

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What the What???? Changing Series in the Middle……Really????

I became a copy cataloger approximately 10 years ago here at the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County. I absolutely love my job. I get to catalog most of our audiovisual collection as well as the children and YA books. I have learned a lot about cataloging since getting this position. Cataloging is definitely a job for the OCD! Maybe that is why I love it so much.

My OCD has been triggered lately. One of our branches recently purchased some Magic Tree house books. I remember these stories from when my child was young. He read them all. It was one of the few I could get him to read and enjoy! The book that was purchased was “Soccer on Sunday” from the Magic Tree house series book 52. As my luck would have it, the book came labeled as “Soccer on Sunday” Magic Tree House Merlin Missions book 24. REALLY???? I read a lot of the book to see what was new because that would make sense. Nope nothing new. Word for word the same as the old book.

My colleague is working on a book called “The Waters and the Wild” by Mercedes Lackey. The front cover says Bedlam’s Bard book 11. The title page says an Underhill adventure (with no series number). She checked the author’s website to find it hasn’t been updated since 2013. Amazon has the book under the Serrated Edge series #10. Can the series get any more confusing? Where are we supposed to put the book?

Why?? Why??? Why would an author decide to change up a series in the middle of it and give a new order to the books. Is it to cause OCD catalogers to go crazy? I seriously have to wonder.

I decided to do some research on the internet to find an answer. While researching, I found I am not the only cataloger going crazy! Hip hip hooray (I think?)!!! I read several blogs on the subject but no clear answer was given. The best answer I could find was found on the Good Reads website.

“Why is it even possible to put books in multiple series? Because we often have to, usually for one of two reasons:
1 – Books are part of two series, where book 3 in one series is book 1 in the spin off, with disparate numbering.
2 – Similarly books are often part of specific subsets of larger universes. Take a look at Robin Hobbs series, Assassin’s Apprentice is part of a trilogy that tells one story, and also part of a larger overarching world that encompasses several other trilogies to form a complete saga.” –Quoted by Krazykiwi on the Good Reads website.

I understand after reading Krazykiwi’s answer that it makes sense to do this sometimes. I just wish there was a way to make it easier for the catalogers at libraries to be able to know exactly where to put the titles in the series without all the extra research to find the answer. It’s also frustrating when you try to find the answer but the series are numbered or labeled differently depending on which website you choose and which website has been updated.

In closing, while change is great in a lot of ways, and I am all about finding new and inventive ways to do things……I believe some things are better left alone.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Gobble Gobble!

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Deadline extended! 2020 Tech Services Retreat: call for programs

Posted on behalf of the Ohio Library Council Technical Services Division. Please pardon duplication.

New Deadline for proposals is November 1, 2019

2020 Technical Services Retreat: Call for Programs

Program proposals are currently being accepted for the 2020 Technical Services Retreat: Moving Forward with 2020 Vision, set for April 15-16 at the Nationwide Hotel and Conference Center in North Columbus.

Libraries focus on offering open and affordable access to resources despite changing budgets, expectations, and environments. The educational programming for the 2020 Technical Services Retreat will highlight innovative approaches, clear visions, and fresh perspectives for the future. This two-day event draws technical services specialists from libraries and related organizations to learn, share, and network in a relaxed and productive campus environment. 

The new deadline for submitting proposals is Friday, November 1, 2019.

If you have any questions or programming ideas for the 2020 Retreat, please reach out! Feel free to comment on this post or email Misty Alvaro at

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Posted on behalf of the OVGTSL 2020 planning committee, please pardon any duplication.


Technical Services librarians are faced with multiple changes in workflows, budgets, and technology. We are seeing an increase in usage of electronic resources, evidence-driven collection development, challenging budgets, space, and staffing, as well as rapidly changing technologies.

The OVGTSL 2020 Conference Program Committee invites forward thinking submissions in all areas related to technical services librarianship including acquisitions, cataloging, serials, electronic resources, collection development and management, systems, and preservation in academic, public, and special libraries. 

Participants are invited to submit proposals that report on recent research, address emerging trends, or showcase new tools, services and projects. Time slots for all sessions are 50 minutes in length including time for questions. 

Topics of interest include but are not limited to the following:

  • Authority control
  • Automation tools such as batch processing, regular expressions, MarcEdit, OpenRefine, APIs, widgets, dashboards, etc.
  • Collaboration within and outside the library
  • Communicating data in meaningful ways for library decision making
  • Completed projects, including outcomes and learned experiences
  • Current roles of technical services in open access, research data, scholarly communication, and other arenas
  • Digital initiatives and collections
  • Discovery and access
  • Diversity and inclusion in technical services
  • Electronic resource management
  • Ethical issues in technical services
  • Evidence-driven collection development
  • Integration of non-MARC metadata within MARC cataloging workflows
  • Managing change
  • Metadata creation, reuse and interoperability
  • New staffing models
  • Practical applications for BIBFRAME and/or linked data
  • Special formats cataloging and/or circulation
  • Strategies for working with limited budgets and resources
  • Training and staff development
  • Workflow management, best practices, and documentation

Submissions for presentations, workshops and panel sessions will be considered in addition to specific proposals to lead sessions in non-traditional formats.

To submit a program proposal, visit to submit the following information by November 1st, 2019

  •  Title of presentation
  • Type of program [presentation, workshop, panel, other please specify]
  • Abstract (no longer than 250 words)
  • Names, titles, institutional affiliations, phone, email of all presenters
  • Primary contact for presenters
  • Equipment and other special needs

Notification regarding acceptance will be sent via e-mail in early January 2020. Additional information is available by contacting: Margaret Maurer at

The Ohio Valley Group of Technical Services Librarians (OVGTSL) was founded in 1924 and draws its members from the states of Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. The annual conference rotates among these three states on a regular basis. Membership is open to anyone interested in library technical services.

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Call for programs: OLC Technical Services Retreat 2020

Program proposals are currently being accepted for the 2020 Technical Services Retreat: Moving Forward with 2020 Vision, set for April 15-16, at the Nationwide Hotel and Conference Center in North Columbus. 

Libraries focus on offering open and affordable access to resources despite changing budgets, expectations, and environments. The educational programming for the 2020 Technical Services Retreat will highlight innovative approaches, clear visions, and fresh perspectives for the future.

This two-day event draws technical services specialists from libraries and related organizations to learn, share, and network in a relaxed and productive campus environment. The deadline for submitting proposals is Mon., Oct. 21, 2019.

Submit Program Form (PDF)

Deadline: 10/21/19

The Retreat is sponsored by the Technical Services Division.

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Happy Fall! Upcoming Events

The 2019 OLC Convention and Expo is fast approaching. Registration deadline is September 16th; after that, on-site registration only. There are lots of programs for all of us in Technical Services! There are some interesting self-development programs like Generational Thinking and Boundaries and Self-Care on Wednesday, So You Want to be a Manager and They Said What? on Thursday, and Managing Stress in the Workplace on Friday. These all have links to Technical Services staffing and workflow. Besides those topics there are great Technical Services specific programs to grow our knowledge in the field like Thinking Beyond Books, Evolution of E-Resources, Digitization Options in Ohio, Effects of Genre Labels, and State of Digital Collections in Ohio, among others to attend.

SAVE THE DATE!!! April 15th and 16th in 2020 for OLC Technical Services Retreat at Nationwide Hotel and Conference Center in Lewis Center, OH. Our theme is “Moving Forward with 2020 Vision: Libraries focus on offering open and affordable access to resources despite changing budgets, expectations, and environments. Programming at this event intends to highlight innovative approaches, clear vision, and fresh perspectives for the future.” Call for proposals are coming soon September 16th. In the meantime, mark your calendars now to join us April 2020 at the OLC Technical Services Retreat!

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Am I being picky?

As I copy-cataloged DVDs the other day, I continually encountered one of my cataloging pet peeves in OCLC records. Granted, this particular annoyance originates in records initially cataloged by a vendor (with the initials M. T.), but I still see it in enough records after they’ve been adjusted by other libraries that I can’t believe I’m the only one bothered by it.

I refer to a movie that only has an English soundtrack and is either closed-captioned or has SDH subtitles. My “peevish” records have this 041 (Language Code):

041 1_ eng $j eng $h eng

This code says the subtitles (subfield j) are translated (delimiter 1) from English (subfield h).

But these subtitles are only transcriptions. Nothing is being translated.

The logical way to code the field is:

041 0_ eng $j eng (Delimiter 0 = no translation)

I’ve also seen instances where the $h has been stripped off but the 1_ remains. But I loudly chant “Not a translation!” every time I fix one, and I’m sure my co-workers would rather I work out my frustration writing about it here, instead. 🙂


And, while I’m on the subject of languages…

The 546 field is intended to convey information about the language of a resource. But

546__ Translated from the Japanese.

is incorrect, because nothing about the current language of the resource is being conveyed by the phrase. If you want to use a 546 field it should read:

546__In English, translated from the Japanese.

Otherwise, translation belongs in a 500 note.


Another bothersome phrase I’ve seen on manga records recently is “Reads from back to front.”


The Japanese read from front to back just like we do. It just so happens that their front is on the right side of a book and their back is on the left. Manga reads from right to left and that’s what the note should say on your manga records.


My last peeve has to do with genres being used as subjects. Subjects (650s) are what a resource is about. Genres (655) are what a resource is. If you’re cataloging an adventure story it’s not

650 _0 Adventure stories

Because that would imply this was a book about Adventure fiction.


655 _0 Adventure stories.

Or, 655_7 Adventure stories. $2 lcsh (since this is a Library of Congress Subject Heading being used as a genre term)

Or, better yet,

655 _7 Action and adventure fiction. $2 lcgft

Because the Library of Congress has been working since 2007 to establish Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms and they can be controlled on your OCLC record. A list of them (2,240 terms established through March 2019) is available at:

And we should be using them.


I could go on, but I think I’ll open the floor to someone else.

What are some of your cataloging pet peeves?

Barbara Satow, Cleveland Public Library


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