Page 1 of 15
Good morning and welcome to Library Cataloging Boot Camp. Don’t worry--I won’t be demanding
you run obstacle courses or do push ups, but rather to exercise your mind to hopefully achieve a
better understanding of some basics in the cataloging arena.
Before we get started, there’s just a few housekeeping points to cover.
<GO OVER THE HANDOUTS> <TODAY”S SCHEDULE, BREAKS, LUNCH, REST ROOMS, ETC>
Today we’re going to touch on a few cataloging topics that I hope will be of interest to you.
Much of this material I have covered for other workshops and during a semester-long course I
have taught for SUNY Albany’s Library school, so I tried to pick out the highlights that I
thought would be of interest and of use to you. We’ll go over two main areas, cataloging and
classification, and specifically discuss access points, MARC records, Authority control, FRBR
and RDA, and the Dewey Decimal Classification system.
The objectives we are striving to attain are to …..
Any questions so far?
Now, in this morning’s session, we are going to have a quick overview of what is meant by the
term cataloging, we will review what access points are and why you should care about them, and
then turn our attention to MARC, with an overview, a lot at MARC’s anatomy and a couple of
examples, and then move on to authority control.
This morning’s objectives are for you all to …….
On to cataloging….
In order to understand cataloging first we must understand how librarians and staff working in
libraries think. To be successful in this world of information and order, those of us who work in
libraries have to consistently impose control on information so that we can retrieve that
information when our users want it. To do that, we need to think logically, we need to
understand the ways information is organized for retrieval, and we need to be able to
communicate our knowledge of these structures to our uses. This is what we do every day in our
Page 2 of 15
libraries when we add material to our catalog, shelve books, or help a patron find a book or
article, so this is really nothing new, right?
Librarians look at a book or a question and think subliminally, “To which category of knowledge
and information does the answer to this question or the shelf location of this book belong?” If a
user wants a book on football, we think first of the general, football is under sports…
And then go to the specific, and with football that would be in the 700s and specifically
When we speak of cataloging, it’s important to understand that the process of cataloging is
made up of a combination of bibliographic description and classification. You do both of these
whenever you catalog something for your library, even if you had no idea they were two distinct
So what is the difference between bibliographic description and classification? Bibliographic
description is the fancy term for describing the item, also called descriptive cataloging. During
this process you look at the item to determine who wrote it, what the title is, does it have color
illustrations, how many CDs or DVDs are in it, and so on. Then you look at the item again to
perform subject analysis, where you attempt to determine what the book is about so subject
headings and a classification or call number can be assigned to it.
Descriptive cataloging is about describing the item and is in no way dealing with what the item is
Subject matter is irrelevant in descriptive cataloging. Here you determine the size or whether
the DVD has stereo or is in black and white, and so on.
Descriptive cataloging provides the access points so you can locate the item in the catalog, the
author, the title, the illustrator, the translator, and so on.
Subject analysis is solely about the subject matter of the item, what it’s about
Page 3 of 15
You can choose your subject headings, which are the subject access points, only after you know
what the item is about.
So you are locating access points in both parts of the process of cataloging, both the
descriptive cataloging part and the subject analysis part. But what exactly are access points?
You use access points all the time, you just may not have realized it. When you locate something
in the catalog you use access points, such as the author or title. Unlike the olden days of card
catalogs, where for space limitation concerns many libraries limited the number of subject
headings to no more than 3 headings, today with digital information there is not need to limit,
because the more access points you provide the easier it is to find an item. And since machines
are very literal and are not able to realize that a title with a number in it is the same whether
the number is spelled out or not, we need to make sure we provide additional access points
where needed, such as alternate titles for something like 2001, a space odyseey, where we
would have the main title the numbers, but add an alternate title of the numbers spelled out.
Oh, and remember that keyword searching, although a wonderful way to reach into the
description of an item to search things such as chapter titles or short story collection titles, it
is not a substitute for providing access points. Those keyword searches rely on the data that is
entered in the MARC record for that item, and if the information isn’t there, it can’t be
During descriptive cataloging you determine the access points, and that’s part of the
information you will use to complete the MARC record for that item.
So, just what is this MARC record and why is it important?
MARC stands for Machine readable cataloging. It was developed in the 1960s and was originally
only used to describe English language monographs, but the format has evolved over the
decades and changed to accommodate different formats.
Here are some short MARC info bits
The Machine Readable part of MARC means that a computer can read and interpret the data in
the cataloging record, and by cataloging record we mean a bib or bibliographic record, the
information that was traditionally shown on a catalog card. This bib record includes information
Page 4 of 15
you’re all familiar with—a description of the item, such as how many pages or discs it has, the
main entry and added entries, such as the author and title and added authors, any subject
headings, and the classification or call number.
What was revolutionary about the MARC record was its format. It can have up to 999 fields,
the majority of which are variable in length and content. That means that each record is a
different length and contains different information. All of our standard library automation,
such as our online circulation systems and catalogs and ILL systems, have all been built upon the
But why use a MARC record? It seems old and pretty complicated, right?
I could make an Access database or Excel spreadsheet and keep track of my library’s stuff.
And I could, but that would isolate my library, limit my options, and make a lot of work for me.
By using a MARC standard, I can participate in the sharing of bibliographic information and not
have to create all my records from scratch. And us catalogers hate to reinvent the wheel.
Another reason to choose to follow the MARC standard is sharing. Libraries using MARC
records can get cataloging data that is predictable and reliable from one library to another.
By choosing to use MARC records, libraries can use online library automation systems to handle
circulation and other library operations. All of these systems use the MARC record, so when my
library chooses to move from one vendor’s system to another vendor’s system, the library’s
database of MARC records moves with them, too.
OK, then, let’s move on to MARC tags.
A MARC tag is a MARC field, and fields combine to make up a record. Some of the common tags
for a MARC record are …..
Page 5 of 15
Here is a sample MARC field for an author, a 100 field. …..
There are some general rules to remember
There are these things called indicators. These are the two character positions that follow
each tag after 010. …..
Then there are subfields and delimiters. Most fields are made up of subfields, which are
related pieces of data. For instance, in an author field, a related piece of data is the birth date
and there is a subfield for the date. There is a subfield code that preceeds the subfield, so for
an author subfield $a is the author’s name, and subfield $d is for the date.
Tags, or fields, are divided by hundreds ….
When people discuss MARC records, they speak of parallel content or structure. And that
There’s a pattern to the structure of the MARC tags.
So whether we are in an author tag or a subject there is a pattern. If you know the pattern you
can better understand your library’s MARC records
Using this parallel tag structure
…… Does that make sense?
Page 6 of 15
OK, moving a little deeper into MARC, let’s take a look at the anatomy of a MARC record
First you have the leader
Any questions so far?
Let’s take a short break before we delve into MARC more.
Have you ever looked at a MARC record in a library catalog? Many catalogs allow for a staff or
MARC display of the record.
Different systems display the MARC records in different ways. The example I have contains
descriptors. Not all systems have those—some only list the MARC field or tag numbers. Most
online systems allow you to edit your MARC records so you can delete fields that are not of use
to you and add additional fields for local information.
Page 7 of 15
And here’s how it looks to the public
Most of the information we saw on the previous slides that contained the MARC display are
here, just in a different format.
Just a quick note on ISBNs.
Were you aware that authority control is an important part of cataloging? Do you know what
authority control is?
Authority control gives our catalogs consistency among our access points. Unlike the use of
tagging, where anyone can put any term on a record and there is no controlled vocabulary, using
and maintaining good authority control ensures us that the same form of an access point is used
wherever that access point is found in our records.
When you keep your records clean and consistent you are maintaining good bibliographic control
and good authority control, so that your users can find the information they need. And isn’t that
what libraries are all about?
An example of good authority control is Mark Twain. If you have consistency you don’t have
both names in your OPAC. The rules say to use the name an author published under, so we should
use Mark Twain. And authority control comes in by having a cross-reference that leads us from
Samuel Clemens to Mark Twain.
Why use authority control? When the USSR changed and became Russia and a bunch of those
different republic, with authority control we can have references to and among those various
Page 8 of 15
country names so that people can find the different books and other materials we have on that
country during it’s various incarnations and name changes.
Authority control is not the be all and end all of cataloging. It’s an important element, but even
if you have it it doesn’t mean that your database is clean or that you don’t problems with
subject headings or that you have all the terms in your catalog that a user is going to think of
to find an item.
Why is that? Because there are variations. Some of the online systems have enhanced search
capabilities that may give you a Did you mean? For misspellings or drop you into the catalog at
your misspelling so that you might find the correct spelling.
If you don’t have authority control, there are no cross references, so users have to think of all
the possibilities when searching, and if they find something they have to evaluate if what they
found is what they meant to find.
Make notes in your sears or LC subject heading book or your catalog on your decisions if you
choose to add a local heading, so you are consistent.
Where can I find authorities? At the Library of Congress, or LC.
What happens to authority files?
Page 9 of 15
In cataloging we always seem to have issues.
Until this afternoon…….
Page 10 of 15
Hey, you came back! Welcome to the second part of library cataloging boot vamp.
How do we go about searching for MARC records?
Let’s go over the steps of getting MARC records from the Library of Congress.
Here are a couple of resources to help you when trying to get records out of LC’s catalog
Because everyone’s online system is a bit different, I can’t really go over editing MARC in detail.
But there are a few universal concepts.
Page 11 of 15
Here are some resources on using MarcEdit
A little more on MARC records …
Are there places other than the Library of Congress where I can locate MARC records for
free? Yes there are!
Some catalogs will allow you to batch your downloads—you can save multiple records and then
export them all at once. Other sites are LC, and you have to do them one at a time.
Let’s say you’ve tried searching a catalog and can’t find the record you’re looking for. What do
Here are some resources about MARC records.
Classification is a system of arranging the collection on the shelves that provides formal and
orderly access to the materials in a library. Classification is also a means of bringing together
related items in a useful sequence from general to specific. Hey, there’s that concept of general
to specific again, because with classification we are thinking subject analysis, or thinking about
what the item is about. Oh, and classification is the way we lead the user to the items they
The classification number, or call number, contains the information about where that item is
shelved in the library.
Page 12 of 15
Here are a couple of examples of Dewey call numbers, one for non-fiction and one for fiction.
That brings us to the Dewey Decimal Classification System.
A Broad Classification is a system that groups works under main divisions and subdivisions, think
literature in the 800s, science in the 500s. That’s the essence of Dewey, it’s a broad means of
grouping information to impose order
Here are some basic and general rules regarding the DDC
Page 13 of 15
Let’s take a short break………
But remember, no matter how tempting it may be, the relative index is NOT a substitute for
the schedules. You still have to go into the schedules if you are checking or crafting a Dewey
So what does the future hold for cataloging?
Page 14 of 15
That means the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records. FRBR is a ……
The 3 things to try to remember about FRBR are that it is NOT a standard, nor is a metadata
scheme nor is a concrete data model.
I am going to run through these quickly. I hope you will use these as a background, to give you
some basic information as more discussion of FRBR takes place in the library community….
Some more basics on FRBR
And here’s an example of what is called a Group 1 entity
On to RDA, or Resource Description and Access.
Page 15 of 15
Questions on FRBR or RDA?
Do you have any real-life questions or examples?
So, to wrap-up..
Thanks for coming to Library Cataloging Boot Camp! Good bye and good luck!
Here’s my contact information if you think of any questions.