ALCTS eForum on eBook Cataloguing

The June 2013 issue of ALCTS Newsletter also includes the summary of discussion about applying the Provider-Neutral Guidelines in cataloguing of eBooks. The title of the eForum is:

MARC Records in the Age of AACR2, Provider-Neutral Guidelines, and now RDA

Moderated by Amy Bailey, ProQuest, and Becky Culbertson, California Digital Library

“This e-forum, held April 23–24, 2013, focused on creating MARC records for ebooks using standards such as AACR2, Provider-Neutral Guidelines, and RDA, as well as issues related to managing those records. The intention was to engage library catalogers, consortiums, authors of standards, and vendors in a productive dialog in order to understand how each approaches the characteristics of ebooks and resolves cataloging issues they may generate.

The forum began with a question about the use of a single record (following the provider-neutral guidelines) or separate records when cataloging ebooks. The question asked if it is difficult to determine when the provider-neutral guidelines should be applied. One respondent stated that she leaves the original paging and illustration information from the print when deriving from a print record. Sometimes the front matter is missing from the ebook but she does not usually verify this information and accepts what was in the print record. Nonrelevant ISBNs left in the record can cause problems with overlaying.

A participant introduced a question about how others are capturing provider/platform information in their local ebook records if they chose to do so. At first the discussion centered around where and what fields to use for this purpose—a stunning array! This included the following suggestions: 856 $3; 856 $z; combination of 793 field and 856 $3; 710 field; 740 field; 773 field; 830 field; combination of 590 and 856 $3; 9XX. The person who mentioned using the 9XX fields felt that since the package names would be only useful for internal record management purposes; that having the 9XX fields be only available on the staff side of the system would be fine. This statement then led to a query by someone else about whether package information was indeed useful to our users. One cataloger felt that while it might not be useful directly to some patrons, that it would indeed be useful to the public service librarians. They have greater knowledge of the “warts” of some providers and would like to be able to quickly steer patrons in other directions.

A new thread addressed the many duplicate records for ebook titles in OCLC and what their merging algorithm was. The questions asked how a record is selected from among so many, if anyone reports duplicates to OCLC, and what issues may arise when records are merged. A problem with multiple records and batch loading was noted as well as ebook and print records that merge because of incorrect use of ISBNs. While separate records for each vendor would help maintain information unique to each provider (format, pagination, multiple versions, links), it makes batch loading difficult.

A participant pointed out that the Provider-Neutral Guidelines are incompatible with RDA and asked if the principles of RDA should trump the problem of duplicate records. A reply noted that P-N was also in contradiction to AACR2 as well. RDA is problematic for electronic reproductions and also microform reproductions because it emphasizes the reproduction information over the original publication information which is likely more important to patrons/researchers. A P-N approach to microforms may be discussed at a PCC meeting in May. Print-on-Demand is another area that might present issues with provider information in the record. (Update: At the PCC Operations Meeting at the Library of Congress on May 3 and 4, the intent was to set up a Task Group to document Best Practices for describing all kinds of reproductions under RDA.)

RDA offers some advantages over AACR2 but the FRBR model does not work well with some current systems. One response noted that converting AACR2 records to RDA would be expensive, so records derived from another will retain the standard used in the original. New access points would be created following RDA. Some aspects of RDA are seen as carryovers from AACR2 and are not FRBR compatible. Relationship designators in RDA records have been inconsistent, in that they may not be there are all, may be in code ($4) or terms ($e). Participants felt that using terms is clearer for users, although codes can be displayed in any term if the system is set up that way. With RDA, the use of $e seems to be preferred among many catalogers. Linking relationships such as “Reproduction of (manifestation)”, while supporting FRBR principles, do not work in most current systems. These relationships are valuable but textual displays are more useful to patrons.

Day 2 began with a posting that addressed call numbers and genre terms. Many participants said they do not use call numbers for ebooks, and remove them from ebook and e-audiobook records when importing or deriving records. It was suggested the call numbers could be moved to a 099 field instead of deleting them. Several participants noted that the classification number is useful for collection development and statistical purposes, so they are retained but suppressed from the public view. Those who display the call numbers often do so because of their virtual call number browse—this way the print and ebook versions are together. Several respondents said they append “eb” or “EBOOK” or some other ebook designation to the end of the call number, so that patrons won’t expect to find the item on the shelf. Some also distinguish between ebooks read remotely and those that are downloadable in a call number that the public sees. One response said that including the vendor name in the call number is useful to find items from a particular vendor if you want to remove or make changes to those records, to manage duplicate ebooks from different packages. A vendor noted that her clients have a wider range of preferences for ebook call numbers than for print records.

While some catalogers say they leave 655s for genre terms in records they import, many libraries now delete these genre/form terms because they feel they are no longer useful. After all, catalogers never have supplied “print books” as a genre term, so why should we do this for ebooks? Streaming video or Internet video might still be a useful term to include. It was suggested that the 072 could be used instead (e.g. 072 _7 ART $x 057000 $2 bisacsh). One participant noted that in OCLC-merged records there could be multiple 655s if there isn’t an exact character string match. Some catalogers add the term when creating an original record but do not add it when copy cataloging. The term could be added automatically by a program. Possibly, the term could be put in a 590 for staff use. A few catalogers mentioned they have an ebook search template in the OPAC or a discovery layer that can be used to find ebooks. One participant pointed out that the 655 rules have changed a lot recently.

A question about ISBNs asked where various ISBNs were recorded on ebook records. Often libraries take great pains to make sure that the ISBNs for the print version are labeled as $z on ebook records and ISBNs for e- are in $z on print records. It is useful to have the other ISBN to prevent the ordering of the other format if the print is already owned (or vice-versa). Not that the other version wouldn’t be purchased, but it is a good practice to flag staff if the title is already owned in a different format. One participant mentioned an excellent PowerPoint by Brian Green, the former Executive Director of the International ISBN Agency. This turned out to be a most sought after item by the e-forum participants!

Although normally demand-driven acquisition (DDA) is thought of as an acquisitions-based activity, the question was posited as to whether there were any procedures or issues related to DDA that were relevant for catalogers. One cataloger said that all his institution did was change the public note from “Read this MyLibrary ebook” to “Read this electronic book” once the book is officially purchased. He felt that the whole process was simple and required little manipulation on their part.

Regarding 856s, libraries generally remove any URLs from the record that are not relevant for them; often MarcEdit is the method of choice to remove them. Practices differ in other subfields in the 856 field. It would appear that the understanding and use of the subfield $3 varies from cataloger to cataloger, but most use this subfield to indicate vendor names. One cataloger said that they prepend their proxy information to the URL string, except in the case of open access journals. Some libraries ignore the $z note field; others use it to indicate “VIEW EBOOK” or “VIEW VIDEO.””