Responses to selected questions on the WiLS Survey:
Cataloging in Wisconsin Public Libraries
The survey was sent out to one person at each of the 17 Public Library System offices, most often the cataloging
contact from the WiLS contact list. No follow-up or reminders were sent as time was short: 12 systems responded.
If anyone would like to contribute to the response pool, the link to the survey is here:
Some responses are edited for clarity or brevity
What is your definition of “quality cataloging”?
It depends on format 21.1% 4
It depends on age or nature of material (eg gift or reserves) 5.3% 1
No duplicate records 84.2% 16
Must have subject headings 94.7% 18
Must have authority control 89.5% 17
No coding errors 68.4% 13
No spelling errors 78.9% 15
1. We do try to eliminate spelling errors wherever possible, but with the increase in foreign language material and
expanded 5xx info, there's a lot more opportunity for mistakes to creep in.
2. We want the records to allow the patrons to find the material they want as quickly as possible
3. must have gmds; bib record should be complete - have author, title, pagination, etc. (not a 3 level record)
4. It should have authority control, but every once in a while we get some wacky items in for cataloging and that
may not be possible.
5. "Authority control" is a bit relative as we do not have a real authority database, and have never been able to afford
to send out database out for authority cleanup. However, we try to do manual cleanup to bring like items more in
sync whenever possible - tip of the iceberg though it may sometimes seem to be. We also work to try to make sure
at least the majority of authority controllable fields in new records are correct and consistent.
How do you achieve quality?
1. Reports, checking & double-checking, regular maintenance
2. As best we can, given our circumstances. We do have processes (online, email, telephone, delivery) established
where members of the consortium can notify us of catalog errors and these can usually be handled right away. But
these often happen when we download records for items that haven't been published yet. Libraries with larger staff
will let us know if there are bib record errors when they get the items in hand. That seems to happen less often with
smaller libraries. Getting people to notice errors and bring them to our attention is more of a problem, especially if
the item is already in circulation.
3. Review, training, attention to detail.
4. All new bibliographic records are proofed by systems staff, other than a few libraries that have dedicated
5. Have a written cataloging manual. Teach cataloging workshop twice/year for skills maintenance. Check for quality
control periodically. Maintain relationships with catalogers so we all feel free to contact each other.
6. Perform routine maintenance to achieve quality based on standards set by the Consortium libraries that follow
national guidelines. Deviations are addressed and fixed. Record loading rules are set so duplication is minimized.
Projects to merge records are continued. The software has built in record template design so consistent record
creation is possible.
7. Thorough searching procedures, periodic review of the sections of the database, staff training, [and] interactive,
easily accessed, and straightforward instructions manual.
8. Unlimited budget and lots of time to work on the catalog
9. do very little original cataloging
10. by having centralized cataloging.
11. By constantly performing quality control throughout the cataloguing process (copy & original) and by looking
for errors during daily tasks such as circulation, reference, weeding, etc., and dealing with the errors immediately.
12. Authority control; keeping current with cataloging via discussion lists
13.We do cataloging in Connexion to make use of the authority control features there. I also pull in authority
records from Connexion when it may be helpful to have the see and see also references, but it's a drop in the bucket.
Connexion also has a spell checker - which is lacking from our current ILS. Access points and grouping like items
are a priority, so in addition to checking main and added author authorities, we also work to adjust and add series
statements as much as possible - especially to fiction. (we've been told that's important to patrons in our public
library environment and should be a priority) We also check format codes and fixed fields - will our ILS format
limits and format displays apply correctly to this record; will other limits and searches (like audience and date) apply
Do you have a concept of “good enough” cataloging? good or bad? Do you practice it?
1. I used to think we needed a "good enough" standard, but after additional practice & training, our standard of
excellence can easily be met.
2. LC copy (even pre-pub) is usually considered good enough since we don't worry about authority control, Dewey
numbers or subject headings. We make sure our media have summaries and hope that juvenile items have them as
well. Locally, we add additional headings for juvenile items that follow AC standards for subjects and their LC
counterparts. We also add some "genre" and "format" headings that will allow newer materials to be retrieved for
display in our monthly list of new materials. We also add headings for materials in World languages. And we try to
make certain that non-fiction books have Dewey numbers so that lists of new books can be retrieved for display.
We've also recently signed up for Bib notification from OCLC. Dates and format coding are pretty crucial in
ensuring that our system can limit by formats and sort publication dates and we're aware of the need to code them
3. I do. I try not to let things slide, and I update records in OCLC that are incomplete or just plain wrong. I'm
frustrated by the lack of information and misinformation in a lot of vendor-supplied records, and wish that I had
more time to go over things. I often skip items and wait for another library to catalog records before going back and
picking it up at the copy-cataloging level, just because I have many other duties here that require my time and
4. For our short bibs (that will later get upgraded by system staff), the record needs standard numbers, author, full
title plus GMD, publisher and description. We also ask them to include a summary and subject/genre headings for
5. Try to have cataloging as good as possible - more lenient with small libraries.
6. Good enough is occasionally used for mass market paperbacks, kits, and local publications (like church
cookbooks and some local history items).
7. I follow OCLC guidelines and provide as much information as possible on the record. Sometimes lack of
information from the item in hand means incomplete bib information and in that case what is available has to be
8. public can get what they want when searching the public catalog
9. more important items should have better quality cataloging
11. We will not use an incomplete record, however, soem of the smaller libraries in our system lack time and
education to understand the difference, and therefore we end up with bad records in our ILS which we deal with
when we find them.
12. Depending on the item, "good enough" might be just one or two subject headings and no 520. Sometimes this is
13. Short Amazon records are used as order records and staff create short order records for items without Amazon
bib. records. They are brief records that are deleted when an OCLC record is created/enhanced.
14. "Good cataloging" tends to mean access points (subjects, authors, series) are as complete and accurate as
possible, subjects are present, and 006-008 and fixed field codes are accurate and as complete as possible. However,
with centralized cataloging at a system office not connected with the system's resource library, we do not have items
in hand (we work from database records), so that alone leaves us doing "good enough" that could be better. We
cannot tell if the information in the record is incorrect (especially problematic with prepub records and their titles
(and sometimes their authors)), so we can only try to make sure authorities are in the correct form and coding is
correct. We must rely on member libraries to notice title or author discrepancies. We also do not always have the
time to check every authority, especially in AV records - ex. sometimes we can check all names without dates, but
sometimes there simply isn't enough time. I've heard from some in cataloging meetings that we should not be
wasting time touching copy cataloging records at all - we should just load them into our database and focus on
original cataloging of local and unique material. But there are enough coding and authority record errors (and
enough bibs that lack subjects or useful series statements) that such a workflow would, in my opinion, mean many
more records would be much less visible to the public. I look at our job as helping the libraries get the most use out
of the material into which they've put their limited resources. That means trying to make the records as visible as
possible. I imagine there are things we could be doing differently, but in the end, I hope we're at least doing "good
How do you edit bibliographic records for your local catalog--NOT including changes for
authority control? Please indicate which are local practice, if you know, and a short description of
what gets edited. Either by MARC code, or in summary at the end. I'd like to hear why fields are
To standards local practice Response
008: fixed field elements 90.0% (9) 10.0% (1) 10
006: codes related to format (e.g. DVD) 100.0% (5) 20.0% (1) 5
050-099: call number 11.1% (1) 88.9% (8) 9
245: title 84.6% (11) 23.1% (3) 13
260: publisher information 88.9% (8) 11.1% (1) 9
250: edition 80.0% (8) 30.0% (3) 10
300: physical description 100.0% (11) 0.0% (0) 11
4XX/8XX: series statements 78.6% (11) 28.6% (4) 14
5XX: notes 76.9% (10) 38.5% (5) 13
6XX: subject headings 76.5% (13) 41.2% (7) 17
856: electronic location/access 60.0% (3) 40.0% (2) 5
1. I'm not sure.
2. We code mostly to standards in the fixed fields but have been told that certain areas aren't really used locally so
we're not as concerned about some. Codes related to formats are critical to limiting in our catalog so we adhere to
the standards. Call numbers need to be present in an 092 field for our monthly retrieval/display of new materials so
we make sure if the OCLC record has the Dewey in an 082 field, we move it to the 092 field. There is a local option
to just use the first four digits of the Dewey number in the 092 but we mostly use a macro the flips the whole 082 to
an 092. Title is critical (although our local standards allow us to link paperback copies with a different subtitle, to the
hardback record-- assuming there are no substantial changes to the text. We also have some leeway with "Classic
fiction" wuch as "Tom Sawyer" can be linked to "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer." Publisher information, we're
primarily concerned with the publication date. I've been asked to include "Vertigo" in the publisher field for titles
published by the imprint of the DC line too. Some music publishers are of interest to our patrons too and we had
added a publisher search option in our catalog-- at least for staff use some years ago. And we've stopped adding
distributor information if it isn't already present in the record. For the most part, few publishers are of interest to
our users. Edition information is usually included. We use the field to distinguish lots of important variations of
DVDs (widescreen vs fullscreen, 1954 version versus 1973 version for remakes, etc.) as well as whether a sound
recording is "Explicit" or "Edited" or Unabridged or Abridged. Most books will be limited to numbered edition
statements. Physical description is important to our members when dealing with formats that have multiple parts
like DVDs and audiobooks. Pagination isn't something we worry about for records which we download pre-
publication. Bib notification will allow us to add this information more easily. Our local practice has been to add
information on illustrations and maps, which we'll do when items are in hand, otherwise we'll only add this if
brought to our attention or Bib notification delivers it. Series statements are something that we no longer obsess
over, since we outsource our authority control. We do add it when the information is available to us. Notes are
added for languages, age ranges, contents (song or story titles) and most of the standard notes. But not all items with
come through our hands so we depend on the records entered on OCLC. Subject and genre headings are required
for all of our materials (maybe not things like the bible or some areas of literature). But whatever we can do to make
items more findable within Subject cataloging standards are fair game. We also add lots of genre and format
headings where appropriate to aid in retrieval. As far as I know, 856 headings are accepted as they appear of the bib
records on OCLC except in those cases where our staff specifically asks us to add them to the record (like for state
issued materials where there is an online version of the item as well.)
3. We add a GMD to all instances of 245/246 for AV materials. We also alter the edition field for DVDs to reflect
full- or wide-screen presentation. Series statements are handled both locally and by our authority control vendor.
Notes are ordered according to local standards, but follow standard practice for format. We add "xxx language
materials" as a 690 for all foreign language items. I'm less sure of the 856; we let those come in as they are.
4. GMD; have a few local terms;
250 Add abridged/unabridged for audiobooks; add widescreen/fullscreen/blu-ray for videos
4xx Change 440 to 490/8xx
5xx Add summary statements for fiction; some local notes as necessary; contents notes for music; books
6xx Add genre headings, both LC, gsafd, and local
5. If 245 is on an 8 level record and the title is now incorrect, we change it. If inf. is missing from a record, we add it.
6. Member libraries are trained when doing copy cataloging (the majority of time spent) to use a Verification Guide
that encourages them to check the MARC record and edit based on Consortial standards.
In our system, the call number comes from the item record, and no library really uses 856 links. Also the 008 field is
maintained in vendor fixed fields and they do check that.
7. The Cataloging Committee for Share Libraries sets policies for the shared system. We place additional
information in the 250 like Widescreen, Unabridged, MP3, etc. We change the 490 1 to 490 0 and delete 8xx tags.
We also change the volume to ;|v001, etc. This places the series in numerical order in a series browse search,
making it easier to determine what title comes next in the series.
8. add 690 for local dvd genre
9. We infrequently add some local subject headings, and we modify the call number to local standards. Changes are
not saved to OCLC, only to our ILS.
10. I'm not quite sure what the question is asking. We check the full record from OCLC and make and
changes/corrections that are needed in whatever field. Since OCLC isn't adding to series authority records, we have
been making local author/series records for a number of series, as needed.
11. We check and edit fixed field and 006 and 007 fields to standards to try to make sure Polaris searches and limits
and displays apply to these records accurately. However, there are some quirks to our Polaris ILS that force us to
edit 006 and 007 in certain ways (sometimes against standards). For ex., if there are 006 codes for a DVD added to a
book, the DVD code overrides the main LDR book code, and people think the item is just a DVD. It's confusing
and people miss what they are looking for, so we have to remove the extra codes. We add a "suggested" DDC
number and auto build a "suggested" Cutter through a Connexion macro to 092 fields - though the call number is
usually just based on what is already available in the OCLC record's 082 or 092 field - and the libraries may choose
to use whatever they want in their local holdings record. We try to make sure title (245, 246, and 740) fields are
coded correctly - especially in terms of the presence of subfields (sometimes they are missing) and initial article skip
indicators used correctly. We also locally edit the GMD to add more specific qualifiers in parentheses. I do not know
how we'll handle that if RDA goes through as our system will not, yet, be equipped to display the new 3xx codes ...
Series statements are important to our member libraries, especially for fiction. We sometimes create local series
authorities for fiction titles - but if we notice an authorized form is later created in OCLC, we adjust the local
records as necessary. We also try to create local authorities in the same form as "official" authorities are put together.
We spell check notes fields and try to make sure they are in specific fields - for ex. a closed caption note in a 546
instead of a 500. We try to make sure all subjects can be controlled in Connexion to make sure they are in an
authorized form. However, we also do some non-standard local editing. In addition to deleting foreign and MESH
subjects, we try to shift genre authorities to GSAFD forms - or LSCH 655 if there is no GSAFD equivalent -
though that is getting more time consuming with AV records ... We also do quite a bit of adjustment to subject for
juvenile records. Many many years ago, several libraries decided to stop using Juvenile subheadings in authorities, so
that was continued when we formed a shared catalog in 2001. Our ILS also does not distinguish between LCSH and
Children's LC headings for the public, so we edit subject heading so bibs primarily use contain LCSH headings -
with adult instead of juvenile subheadings for most subjects. This is one of the biggest areas that frustrate me - we
now have this useful dashboard in our public PAC that collates and displays linked subjects headings from a search
result set as a way to narrow search results - but how useful is it going to be if we leave juvenile subjects as they are -
sometimes there can be 3 different variations for what is essentially the same subject ... I don't have a good answer
for that, so we continue to edit subjects to try to keep up with majority of existing database records and bring as
many like items together as possible. It is something we will have to revisit someday.
In a survey last year, we asked "What are the biggest challenges you face in this shared
cataloging environment?" The following are the responses that aren't library-specific. Similar
answers are grouped together. Please mark the ones that you feel still apply to your library and/or
system. There is room for others and more detail in the comments section at the end:
One or two libraries that don't want to and will not go with the majority decision //
Getting small libraries to follow the cataloging guidelines // 47.4% 9
Getting all to adhere to the standards
Time constraints 42.1% 8
Database maintenance (duplicate records, cataloging errors) 73.7% 14
Creating cataloging guidelines so that records are entered consistently in order to make the
catalog to meet the needs of all our users including staff
AV is particularly challenging, due to frequently changing formats and multi-volume set issues.
For example are patrons best served by circulating television episodes as a set or individually by 68.4% 13
Making it easy to bring in bib records for system libraries interested in automating ordering 5.3% 1
Time consuming checking holdings at each stage (ordering, cataloging, and even adding the item
record) to be sure we aren't going to have duplicate records or overlay another record
Each library does cataloging a bit differently and each has their own "in house" subject headings
Holding down costs 31.6% 6
Individuals making unauthorized changes and deletions by mistake 21.1% 4
When to add a record 15.8% 3
Keeping libraries informed of changes/trends taking place in library automation and cataloging 21.1% 4
Training staff to begin cataloging/continuing education for cataloging 42.1% 8
In-house authority control vs. using vendor authority control services 63.2% 12
Customer service vs. cataloging standards (ie. local subject headings or local cataloging
practices/BISAC vs. Dewey)
1. Our system uses Centralized cataloging and thus does not have to worry about many of these issues
2. None of these seems to be a major concern with our consortium. Multi-volume DVDs are a continuing concern
for one of the other catalogers though. Publishers combining multiple titles is a problem with DVDs and we've run
into situations where sound recording and DVD rules were being applied differently. But the majority of items
entered into the catalog are pretty easy. Problems with linking paperbacks and hardcovers on the same record is
sometimes an issue since most libraries seem to search by ISBN only and assume that the paperback is the only title,
while our local standards say that paperbacks and hardcovers should circulate on the same record. Variant versions
of music and DVD titles that don't include distinguishing information on the vendor records that are created pre-
publication can cause problems as well. We have to make adjustments
3. Problems in SirsiDynix - difficult to do searching and get the correct response
4. WVLS has centralized cataloging. New records are created by WVLS staff. Other libraries add their holdings to
5. I do not find it difficult to work with the other libraries. Once a decision has been made by the group (in that
"governing" body), everyone has been willing to follow procedures. The biggest difficulty that I see is just trying to
keep on top of database maintenance. But I think that would be an issue anywhere.
6. Because we have centralized cataloging at the system office, we do not run into the problems of libraries not
following guidelines. The member libraries can enter or pull in bibliographic records for new titles, but then they are
essentially locked out of the rest of the database, and changes must go through the system cataloger. Member
libraries may do whatever they want to their item/holdings records (system staff do not touch those), but the
bibliographic and authority content of the database is managed by system staff.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of your cataloging process?
answered question: 13 // skipped question: 7
1. Requires a high degree of self-directedness and it can be difficult to adequately provide corrective training.
2. Local control, and automated processes are both advantages and disadvantages. Not everyone can make
changes to our local catalog, they have to go through one of our staff, so that's less than efficient, but we like
to think we're better trained. Not having all the physical items pass through our hands saves time, but allows
errors to go unnoticed and bib records remain uncorrected. It isn't perfect, but it seems to be pretty efficien
3. There can be a backlog of original cataloging, simply because of the volume of materials handled at XXX.
I do cataloging for grant items and for the ___ professional collection, among other things. I think that
probably more materials could be cataloged without touching the piece at XXX Library, if we can agree on what
constitutes an acceptable record. (This is a controversial opinion, one not necessarily shared by everyone here!!
4. Time consuming! But the records are much better than they used to be
5. Fast turn around time
Uniformity of practices - easier to identify and find material
Disadvantage - keeping all on the same page
Helps to reduce duplication
Encourages libraries to follow standards
Reduces catalogers time to perform routine cataloging tasks
Does not provide much for catalogers to understand the broader concepts/theories if cataloging
7. Advantage is that we require all libraries in the shared system to use OCLC so the overall quality of records is
good. We insist that original cataloging of items be done at West Bend and Racine only for the MidWisconsin
and Lakeshores systems so there is consistency and a high cataloging standard. A central cataloging committee
representing both systems determines cataloging policies, trains staff, and maintains the cataloging manual for
the shared system. All this contributes to quality records and uniform cataloging standards. The down side is
that keeping staff trained and informed is a huge challenge, and some libraries simply refuse to comply to our
policies. This in turn requires much quality control vigilance in maintaining the catalog. Authority control is the
biggest challenge, but overall, I'd say we have a good catalog and a strong backbone of support to maintain the
quality of the database.
8. backlog, time consuming.
9. We are in the process of creating policies and procedures for the system and are currently in flux.
10. Advantages are that we can catalog quickly and efficiently, disadvantages are that we have people of various
experience levels handling bib records at the various libraries, and our catalog is inconsistent because of this.
We are working on creating a shared procedure manual to help fix this problem.
11. Sometimes work is a little too divided. For example, since only one person works on the authority control,
others know very little about those processes.
12. Small staff for a large volume of materials is a disadvantage, but it is also an advantage because it helps build
staff members' cataloging skills.
13. Centralized cataloging and database cleanup means we don't have different groups doing different things
to the database. However, without the actual items in hand, we may be missing some ways to make records
more complete and accurate. Also, due to continuation of long standing past practices (like editing of juvenile
subjects), we may be caught in time consuming adjustments to standards that may not be worth the time.