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IASL presentation - Cataloguing

Page history last edited by Dianne 10 years, 9 months ago



Get a life ; fast and furious cataloguing for the overworked and underutilised Teacher Librarian


Dianne McKenzie 2002

This workshop and paper is intended to give participants an idea of the types of services currently being offered. The products and services listed here are done so for the participants information and ease of follow up in collecting information about what their needs are. The author has no links with any of these companies and by their inclusion is not recommending any of them in particular. By the dynamic nature of the internet, web sites will change and even though the author has checked the websites listed before publication, there is no guarantee they will be the same when you visit them.
Cataloguing is one of those chores of the library that needs to be done, is never ending, time consuming and at all times needs to be accurate. This creates a dilemma for the school librarians who need to be a jack of trades, and a master of all, in most cases with little or no trained support. It is a vicious cycle - they need to expand their library collection through purchasing the new resources but have little time to get it to the point so the end users can access it because they need to catalogue it - and who has time for that?

There have been considerable developments over the years to help school librarians reduce the amount of time they need to do original cataloguing - SCIS in Australia, OCLC in the US and other countries and many counties in the US have their own OPACS accessible by all the district schools. These services are liberating for those schools who have a community environment such a county or district which is supportive or even a total government policy which makes these services free. What about schools who do not have these support mechanisms in place - the ever expanding number of international schools who work in isolation in countries far away from their home country who have resources from many parts of the world but who do not recieve any aid from any government? What about schools in lands which do not have the sophisticated OPACs available in their countries? What about the schools who simply can't afford to access these ready to download records ? With the current globalisation of information and technology through the internet there is a vast opportunity for use of and collaboration with sophisticated OPAC services for a low price, or even free, to liberate the school librarian from the cataloguing burden, so they may utilize their time more effectively in service to their clients in supplying and making sense of information.
This workshop addresses a number of alternatives that School Librarians can use to reduce the time and money they spend on original cataloguing whilst maintaining the integrity of the cataloguing standards. These are:-
  • Original cataloguing
  • Copy cataloguing
  • Cataloguing from CD ROM records
  • Cataloguing databases
  • Z39.5 Software available.
Original Cataloguing
The librarian performs original cataloguing by inputting a new master record, catalogued according to AACR2 1988 rev. and current cataloguing practice.
This is slow and sometimes inaccurate if you haven't spent years training to be an original cataloguer. In my experience in schools, items which need to be original catalogued are left to when there is enough time to do it - and eventually get done when the need arises for those resources.There are so many different types of formats of resources with different requirements, the decision as to what classification number and subject headings sometimes takes more time than it is worth for the non highly trained cataloguer. The other important aspect about being a School Librarian is that we have other things to do which do not need to include original cataloguing. A reflection on the time and resources required in original cataloguing is reflected in the costs charged by cataloguing companies - if it was an easy job, it would be free.
However original cataloguing is sometimes required when the resource can be found nowhere else. There are a few of online helpers to assist in this task, below is one of them
Marc 21 Concise Format for Bibliographic data (Library of Congress)
This gives a brief description of the field and what should go in there and the appropriate punctuations.
The Librarian of Hong Kong Institute of Education suggested that no more than 5% of records need to be original catalogued due to the number of services available today.
Copy Cataloguing
The School Librarian may perform copy cataloging by modifying an existing record.
In the simplest terms this means finding a record that is needed, and copying and pasting the information into the OPAC in the relevant places.
The advantages of this are
  • The records have usually been catalogued by 'professionals' and will be accurate,
  • All the information you need will be there, and you will see where the information needs to go.
  • If Library OPAC's such as LOC, The British Library and university libraries are visited, their records copied, pasted and modified directly from the records, this method is free.
  • This method is suitable for libraries who do not catalogue many resources, and who cannot afford to subscribe to a large database or service.
  • The time to find the Library OPAC with the record on it. It can take the same amount of time as doing the original cataloguing to find the resource due to only one one OPAC being able to be searched at a time -unless a number are linked for a common reason.
  • The need to ensure the record is being copied is actually the resource you want catalogued.
  • There is also the need to modify the record to suit local requirements.
Some of the Library OPACs we have found useful to copy records from are:-
National Library of Australia (NLA)
Library of Congress (LOC)
British Library Public Catalogue (BLPC)
A list of library catalogues from the USA
Suffolk County Library Catalogue
For specific local resources, visit the national libraries and universities of the language/ resource that you need the record for.
CD ROM Catalogue Databases
This service is one where thousands and even millions of marc records are downloaded onto CD ROM. The school buys the CD ROM and searches the database on the CD ROM for the required records, then downloads the information from the CD ROM.
  • These are worthwhile for schools who do not have any reliable online access.
  • They are being superceded by the internet.
  • They are limited to what is on the disc and can be outdated quickly, hence payment for regular updates are required.
  • Require a lot of disc swapping if there is not the possibility of multiple CD loading.
Laserquest is one of the options available, they boast 9.8 million records, they also mention that if a library acquires more than 2500 new resources a year, then it will pay for itself in time saved.
Further information on this product can be found at :
GRC International (5 million records)
Fastcat is another CD ROM catalogue developed for schools (1 Million records)
Alliance Plus is another product available for cataloguing from CD ROM. 1.8million records with 2 -4 updates per year. There are a couple of other requirements to be met. It costs about $449 US +
More information http://www.fsc.follett.com/products/allianceplusonline/sellsheet.pdf
Online Catalogue Databases
These are usually huge databases of records that can be searched, accessed and download into a local system for a fee - sometimes it is just a flat fee per annum, or it could also involve a membership fee and then a charge for every record searched and downloaded. Depending on where they get their records from, the standard of cataloguing can vary. Some use a credit system for those libraries prepared to share their records to reduce their download fee, and some hire professional cataloguers to input just for their database.
  • The hit rate can be quite high due to there being so many records available.
  • The service is quick, and usually supported.
  • Use of the internet.
  • The protocols used can be suited to the local system such as SCIS in Australia with particular Subject Headings.
  • The cost is an annual fee and can be quite high.
  • The rate at which items are catalogued can sometimes be delayed due to the volume.
  • Schools may not need the volume of records to search through and may not get cost effectiveness.
Some of the catalogue databases are:-
Follett's Alliance Plus Online (3.9 million records) $249USDollars+
Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS)
Over 1200 downloads per year is $900 AUD. Contains over 700,000 records. Mainly Australian in origin. http://www.curriculum.edu.au/scis/
Precision One by Brodart.com
2 million records http://www.brodart.com
IT's Marc
US based online based, 15 million records
OCLC Catexpress - access to 47 million records
membership fee plus download per record fee
demo tutorial at http://www.purl.org/oclc/catxtutorial
MarciveWeb Select
offers a 30 day free trial.
AV Access Plus from Professional Media Services Corp.
Specifically for AV materials 500,000 records
Free trial version.
Offers a total package for system operation as well as databases.
Z39.50 Software
Z39.5 is a protocol that allows downloads of marc records from one library system to another. It allows users to search one or more collections over the internet simultaneously, searching by author, title, subject, ISBN, ISSN, LCCN etc...and then downloads the marc records required into the searchers system. It is the way of the future in copy cataloguing and has shown rapid growth since its inception in 1988.

  • A one off fee for the software - no further budgeting required.
  • Huge number of records available, and each record is a free download.
  • Through a selection of target servers, the searcher can narrow the type of library searched, making the search more specific.
  • The records gained are usually recorded by professionals.
  • International records - no regional limitations.
  • Reliance on the internet
  • Records may have to have some modification before being loaded into the local OPAC.
There is the possibility of having the Z39.5 software in its raw form from various places
but it is probably easier to buy the interface software from a company who has developed a user friendly version. A couple of alternatives are:-
eZcat and eZcat pro from Book Systems
they offer a 15 day free trial, a one off purchase price and then download as many records as you need as long as you own the software. $595US / $995US site as a one off payment. You can pay $100US a year for support and updates. eZcat is MAC and PC compatible.
Bookwhere? 2000 from Follett
offer a 45 day free trial and costs $395US
A list of libraries which are Z39.5 servers can be found at
This is a list complied by school librarians who use a Z39.5 interface and recieve the highest amount of hits from these libraries - also included special libraries. US based.
A close to complete list of all international targets can be found at
From the vast array of possibilities in automated cataloguing, there really is no reason for School librarians to be original cataloguing more than 5%, they have the opportunity to use free and low cost resources to help them in this onerous task and to keep their records as acurate as possible. With the advent of the internet the world has become smaller, our catalogues are able to be shared and our libraries have the potential to become wordly places and our students and staff will benefit from these opportunities which free us up for more important work - that of teaching.


Created 14/5/2002

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