Copy Cataloging Interest Group – Jan 21, 2012

The ALCTS CAMMSCopy Catalogying Interest Group’s meeting today was full beyond capacity with session participants sitting and standing around the periphery of the room. The session was broken into 4 parts. The first was a brief introduction to the session including a report on the status of copy cataloging at the Library of Congress. Angela Kenny from the library of congress spoke about the quantity of copy cataloguing currently being done at LC.

In the next section, Barbara Tillet of LC spoke in detail about what LC has been doing recently when copy cataloging textual monographs with RDA. She explained how AACR2 records were converted to RDA and what decisions were made regarding tricky issues that arose with authority records and access points. She explained how cataloguers decided to apply RDA principles when addressing key access point fields (e.g.2xx,7xx ) and other tags that may be treated differently in an RDA environment (e.g. 3xx, 4xx, 5xx). I found it useful to run through how LC cataloguers approached each MARC tag in the RDA environment in terms of the philosophy behind the decisions that were made. Barbara also talked about the progress being made toward RDA implementation stating that the January 2013 implementation date still seems possible and likely. She explained how RDA documentation can be found in the RDA Toolkit as well as the Cataloger’s Desktop. Since RDA is not yet an adopted standard, we can expect to see regular changes. In fact, minor changes are being “fast tracked” so that more time can be spent on time-consuming tasks such as policy setting. To keep up with what is going on with RDA, anyone can read the information at and if you need assistance with RDA or have questions that the documentation doesn’t answer, you can email

Karl E Debus-Lopez, Chief of the U.S. General Division and Acting Chief of the U.S. and Publisher Liaison Division at LC talked about a CIP Metadata pilot project for eBooks. This project grew out of the growing need for eBook metadata and the poor quality of some of the existing record sets. The metadata is seen as fulfulling three main functions. The first is to provide a service to libraries. The second is to provide a service to publishers. The third is to come up with an efficient and effective method of converting existing print materials records into eBook metadata. Publishers supply the data through a web interface. University Press of Mississippi, Wiley-Blackwell, Jossey-Bass and RAND corporation are participating in the project and were given access to the webform in October 2011. The project will run and be monitored through to March 2012 and will be evaluated the following month. If successful, production could be as soon as May 2012. There have been some challenges around things such as providing vendor-neutral records. So far it has been decided that 776 and 588 tags are useful in identifying and differentiating metadata for Ebooks.

The final presentation by Elaine A. Franco was entitled “Copy Cataloging Gets Some Respect from Administrators”. Elaine described the situation where at University of California Davis library, the professional cataloging staff complement had been eroded over the years. She described a process through which subject specialist copy cataloguers were gradually trained to do more complex cataloguing and original cataloguing. This included enriching OCLC records. While this project appeared to be controversial for some in the audience, Elaine made a strong argument for her library taking this approach. Not only did the cataloguers have improved morale, and job satisfaction, some got promotions and the library receives credit with OCLC for much of the work they do. For example, in one year the library paid OCLC $94,821 but received $86,368 in credits. The resulting graphs and statistics were impressive. According to what Elaine described in her presentation, the copy cataloguers had a lot of training and support and gradually worked their way into taking on more responsible and challenging work. In an environment where there is nobody left to do the more involved cataloging, it seems d like a reasonable approach where the copy cataloguers were able to receive both the training they require and recognition for the work that they do. A bonus is that the program has quantitative benefits of a type which appeals to administrators. A final benefit is that the significantly reduced professional staff complement was then freed up to do the most difficult or complex work or attend to other issues. Concerns about job losses for new MLIS students were discussed but the bottom line was that librarians are still needed but in more demanding and specialized roles. Elaine concluded with stressing that while she felt her story was important to share with us, it is something that is relevant to the situation at her library and is not necessarily something that she is promoting or think would be equally as successful at other institutions.

About donna.frederick

Metadata Librarian at the University Library, University of Saskatchewan. Saskatoon, Canada.
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