What's in a catalog record?

Behind the scenes in the landscape of librarianship, one of the important aspects of this field is the ability to provide useful description, classification, and access to library collections. When you search for books and other resources on the library website, the computer retrieves a search result with a list of related titles, subjects, and authors. This is done in part by the process of cataloging resources and creating bibliographic records that describe and classify the material. A catalog record contains metadata telling you the who, what, and where of a resource: 1. Who is the author or contributor of this resource 2. What is this resource about? What are the subjects and summary of this resource? How many pages are in this book? 3. Where is it located? Is it available in the library? Is it an electronic resource with a reliable URL for instant access? Does it have a call number?

When you count the number of materials that any given library has, you may think this is a lot of work for a single library to catalog and manage its entire collection. One way libraries achieve this more efficiently is by sharing bibliographic records. OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) is an organization that provides access to a worldwide database that allows libraries to contribute and share their bibliographic records with one another. This helps reduce redundancies with different libraries cataloging the same material.

Another initiative that the Library of Congress has taken to streamline processes for libraries is by providing a Cataloging in Publication (CIP) data block for newer resources not yet published.

The CIP data block might have information about the author, the title, the edition, ISBN, the formats, subject headings/ genres, and call numbers. Starting in 1971, Library of Congress initiated the CIP Program for creating bibliographic records for books not yet published. Publishers can participate in this program if they publish books that are commonly acquired by libraries. So far, over 5,000 publishers participate in the program with about 50,000 books processed annually. Once the book is published, the publisher includes the CIP data block on the resource (usually located on the verso of the title page for print books). As you can see, the CIP data block gives you a quick and condensed version of the catalog record and this can be useful for libraries with limited cataloging expertise.

While the CIP data block has been useful, it is currently going through a revision. Since the 1970’s cataloging standards for libraries have been changing in a trend to be more user friendly and compatible with online environments. As a result, the CIP Data Block Committee formed in collaboration with Library of Congress to improve the quality of CIP data blocks. Starting October 1, 2015, the Library of Congress is revising the CIP data block so that it will be more useful to libraries in the future. Some of the changes include the following:

1. Adding clear category names to the metadata and access points of the resource

  • Names
  • Title
  • Other Titles
  • Description
  • Identifiers
  • Subject
  • Classification
  • Including a URL permalink that can connect a user directly to the Library of Congress bibliographic record for downloading.

2. Indicating classification schemas for subjects

  • MESH
  • LCC
  • DDC

3. Removing Preferred (Uniform) Title/Collective Title, Author Affiliations, and Physical Description (i.e. “pages cm”)

Below is an example what the new CIP data block will look like:

Names: Wahl, Jan. | Sheban, Chris, illustrator.

Title: I met a dinosaur / by Jan Wahl ; illustrated by Chris Sheban.

Description: Mankato, MN : Creative Editions, 2015. |  "Previously published in 1997." | Summary: After a visit to a museum of natural history, a young girl begins to see dinosaurs everywhere.

Identifiers: LCCN 2014022590 (print) | LCCN 2014026315 (ebook) | ISBN 978-1-56846-233-2 (hardcover : alk. paper) | ISBN 978-1-56660-508-3 (epub)

Subjects: CYAC: Stories in rhyme. | Dinosaurs--Fiction. | Imagination--Fiction.

Classification: LCC  PZ8.3.W133 Iae 2015 (print) | LCC PZ8.3.W133 (ebook) | DDC [E]--dc22

LC record available at http://lccn.loc.gov/2014022590

For more information about the CIP Program, visit http://www.loc.gov/publish/cip/news/index.html.

Frequently Asked Questions about the CIP Data Block can be found at http://www.loc.gov/publish/cip/news/data_faq.html.

- Kevin Cretsos, Catalog Management Assistant

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