Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Help your local cataloger

You may or may not have noticed, but we library cataloging-types are really anal. Yes, it’s an affliction, but we’re learning to cope with it, and you can help. Here’s how:

Are you entering on-the-fly (OTF) records into TLC for library books? Those are the records you enter when you click Add New Title*. Please don’t, especially for fiction and non-fiction books and audiobooks for your kids (including reference), or professional materials for your teachers.  It causes us undue stress, and with rising health care costs we all want to remain as healthy as possible.

These harmless-looking little records are in fact rather insidious. When anal cataloging-types see them, we think, “oh my gosh, how are our students ever going to find this book? There’s no author or date, the ISBN has a typo in it, there’s no subject headings or other indication of what the book’s about, there’s no paging to show how big it is, and there's no series information.” Or we think (often at 3am), “What about reports? With no date in the record, our collection statistics will be totally off! How can I help a librarian five years from now understand what the item is, when I don’t know because there’s no date, no ISBN, no edition statement, no indication of whether it's a book, CD, or DVD? What happens when they want a list to weed from?” You see how we obsess over the details and become stressed out. It’s all part of the affliction (not sure whether it’s listed in the DSM-IV yet or not).

But you can help us! We’ve put together a Google site for rush cataloging, where you can give us the information we need to catalog a book that isn’t already in the system, and we will catalog it for you—often within hours (definitely that day or the next). Here’s the link: We can do books, audio books or DVDs, curriculum materials – whatever you have. If we need more information, we’ll contact you.

If it’s not a rush, please send us the book itself. You can send it through the pony if there’s only one or two. If you have more, box them up and send them through the AV delivery guys. Their number is x2-2220—call and leave a message with the name of your school and that you have a box for Jeffcat. They’ll take care of it from there. You’ll get the books back in a week or two, cataloged and with spine labels. All you have to do is check the books in and they’re reading to circulate.

Seriously, we really do appreciate your attention to this. On-the-flies cause us extra work because we have to deal with them manually. TLC has a program that will match OTFs with duplicate existing records, but its effectiveness is limited – it only matches on ISBN, and only on a record already in our database. We love to catalog your materials (that’s what we’re here for!), but we’d rather do it just once per book.

* To add a new ITEM, click the green plus-sign icon below the title info once you've found the record. If you have to input the title, author, format, etc., and the options to save are "Save and Check in OTF" and "Save OTF in Transit", you know you're putting in an OTF. Stop! Click Cancel and search the title again, and click the green plus-sign when you find the title.

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