Related product I-Share

I-Share Network Zone Cataloging Recommendations

Last updated November 7, 2023

March 4, 2020 Webinar on I-Share Network Zone Cataloging Recommendations

The CARLI Office has received many questions about the bibliographic records that libraries are seeing in their institution zones (IZ) for both Alma and Primo VE. For our consortial environment, Alma includes a Network Zone (NZ) which serves as a common repository for bibliographic records for all members, and as an environment for collaborative management of these records. The I-Share Network Zone should become most libraries’ first resource for selecting records for copy cataloging.

The first steps in building this repository take place during migration. This message documents that process along with the caveats that have been identified during the vanguard and test migrations. CARLI has vetted this process with guidance from Ex Libris and the I-Share Network Zone Cataloging Advisory Group.

At the end of this message, CARLI has several questions for libraries to consider in terms of evaluating their own records in view of these guidelines. Please review this full document and these questions.  if you need assistance.

Migration Overview

Ex Libris has recommended that the I-Share Network Zone (NZ) be created using the contents of the I-Share Union Catalog (i.e., the database found in "I-Share Union Catalog") or the database from your Integrated Library System (ILS).

Each library’s ILS database will be migrated to Alma Institution Zones (IZ) with a freeze on technical services operations outlined in your project management timeline. The migration will not change bibliographic records except where specified on the migration questionnaire:

  • Owning library information added to tag 958$a;
  • Course reserve information added to tag 957$a;
  • Data in 019$a copied to 035$z with (OCoLC) prefix.

The migration will change holding records only with respect to:

  • Holding location will be moved from 852$b to 852$c;
  • Holding location may be changed according to location mapping tab;
  • Library will be added to 852$b according to location mapping tab.

For migration guides and tutorials related to your ILS, Link Resolver, and/or Electronic System see this Ex Libris documentation Migration Guides and Tutorials.[1]

After migration, Ex Libris creates electronic resource portfolios by converting holdings records identified using the P2E specifications in each library’s migration questionnaire and the list of resources that each library identifies as eligible for P2E conversion.

Bibliographic records in each I-Share library’s IZ will be linked to NZ bibs using the OCLC record number found in the 035$a and 035$z of records in IZ and NZ. Once linked, the record seen in the IZ will be the record found in the NZ.

Network Zone Architecture

The Network Zone architecture is that of a shared bibliographic utility, not a deduplicated union catalog. The main purposes are to share bibliographic metadata and improve the management of that data, which includes routine maintenance of authorized headings and corrections of problematic data.[2] Additionally, the NZ enables Alma users to see when other I-Share institutions have holdings on the same bib record, provided the library has linked or shared their bibs with the NZ. This can be a benefit to collection developers and acquisitions staff in determining whether a particular title has reached CARLI’s collection guideline for five-circulating copies.[3]

The presence of a record in the NZ does not govern whether the resource is discoverable in Primo VE. Bibliographic and holding records may be suppressed at the institution level. An institution may link to or share a bib to the NZ, then suppress it locally if it should not be discoverable. Any IZ record that is unsuppressed will appear in that institution's Primo VE instance, and appear in search results from the “All I-Share Libraries” search scope. The “All I-Share Libraries scope searches all records in an IZ; and all physical/print records in the CARLI NZ; and all physical/print records in any other I-Share institution’s IZ, whether or not records are linked to the CARLI NZ.

The presence of a record in the NZ does not govern whether the resource may be requested or borrowed by other libraries' patrons. The ability to request and borrow items is controlled by the fulfillment rules, policies, and terms of use for the location where the item is stored. These TOUs will determine whether a I-Share patron may place a request in Primo VE after discovering the item, or whether the patron may walk in to your library and borrow an item from the shelf.

Network Zone Cataloging Recommendations

NZ1. CARLI recommends that all libraries have their IZ bib records linked to the bib records loaded to the NZ. This allows the NZ to facilitate collaborative technical services that reduces cataloging overhead at member institutions by gathering record enhancement and authority control activities to the network space.

NZ2. CARLI recommends that a library identify any institutional records containing descriptions of unique details specific to local holdings. Following migration, libraries may unlink these records from the NZ, then restore the records by reloading them to their IZ.

If practical, libraries may identify and move institution- and copy-specific data from other bibliographic fields to holdings records or one of the bibliographic fields that can be designated as a local extension  in order to retain that data in the IZ during the migration to Alma. 

If libraries do not have the opportunity to move these data in advance of migration, then following migration, libraries may unlink these records from the NZ, then restore the records by reloading them to their IZ. This process is described in the Post-Migration Workflow to Restore Special Collection Bibliographic Records.[4]

NZ3. CARLI recommends and expects that libraries will relink their records to the NZ and improve the shared record at the earliest possible opportunity.

NZ4. CARLI recommends using match methods based on the original system record number (MARC Bib 035 values) when adding new records to the NZ, and when sharing or relinking IZ records to the NZ. Libraries may opt to limit matching to the OCLC number only. These match methods are named in Alma as:

  • 035 (Other System Identifier) Match Method
  • Unique OCLC Identifier Match Method

NZ5. Records that represent resources meeting one or more of the following criteria may remain unlinked from the NZ indefinitely, and be searchable only in the IZ:

  • Records that you are contractually prohibited from sharing
  • Personal reserve materials
  • Equipment
  • Temporary collections
  • Interlibrary loans from outside of I-Share
  • Order records; especially records for unacquired resources
  • Withdrawn/deaccessioned resources

NZ6. CARLI recommends that libraries search the NZ for appropriate catalog copy for resources before adding records from external sources at the time of cataloging, or before sharing a copy used for acquisitions. When possible for your given workflow, use an appropriate record from the NZ. If you import a record from external sources, when linking your record to an existing NZ record, take care to replace or merge data using the method that preserves the best form of the record.

NZ7. CARLI recommends that libraries will enhance shared NZ records whenever possible with descriptive details and access points that improve discovery for all I-Share users. Record enhancements made in Alma should also be made in WorldCat to save the time of the next cataloger, improve automated updates, and preserve enhancements for future reclamations.

NZ8. CARLI recommends that libraries make no changes to bibliographic records that will remove access points or diminish the description of the item.

  • Do not remove description or access points that other libraries’ users may find valuable.
  • Do not replace a given copy of a record with a copy that has a lesser encoding level or with a lesser brief level as assessed by Alma’s brief record level rules.
  • Do not make changes to a full bibliographic record that will cause the record to represent a work different from that originally described by the record.
  • If the record you are using in the IZ and/or NZ does not accurately describe your item in hand, relink your holdings to a more appropriate record, rather than changing the existing record.

NZ9. CARLI recommends that libraries apply Alma local extensions to their linked NZ bibliographic records, or use holding record notes fields to describe details on local holdings that are unique to the institution’s copy.

  • CARLI recommends that catalogers enter local, copy-specific data to the fields identified on the CARLI shared Local Extensions for Local, Copy-Specific Data,[5] which follow specific MARC field definitions.
  • CARLI recommends that libraries may use MARC tags 590-599, and 990-999 to define any institution-specific fields that do not fit the uses identified in the CARLI Local Extensions recommendations.
  • CARLI recommends that libraries consider using MARC Holdings Record tags to retain institution-specific fields, if they are concerned about maintaining data in a system-agnostic format.

Considerations for Libraries to Evaluate Records for the Post-Migration Workflow

Linking to the NZ record is typically an ongoing benefit of the shared Network Zone environment and allows updates to the NZ record that benefit all institutions who have records linked.

Institution- and copy-specific local data that exist in holdings data in the ILS is preserved during the migration. Also, institution- and copy-specific local data that exist in an ILS bibliographic record’s 09X, 59X, 69X, 77X, 78X, and 950-999 field during the migration will transform into local extensions in the IZ if designated in the migration questionnaire as fields containing local data. Local extensions are visible only in the institution’s IZ when a record is linked to the NZ record. 

A month before "go live," I-Share libraries can identify and move institution- and copy-specific data from other bibliographic fields to holdings records or one of the bibliographic fields that can be designated as a local extension (listed above) in order to retain that data in the IZ during the migration to Alma.

However, libraries with highly specialized bibliographic records containing item- or institution-specific data too extensive to be reasonably preserved through local extension fields might experience this data being replaced during migration if matching and linking occurs with a NZ record lacking the item-specific data. The Post-Migration Workflow to Restore Special Collections is intended as a workaround for this specific scenario.  To help evaluate if your library has this kind of specialized data, please review and answer the questions below for yourself.

Questions to consider:

  1. Does your library have highly specialized bibliographic records containing item and institution-specific data too extensive to be reasonably preserved through moving data to local extension fields 09X, 59X, 69X, 77X, 78X, and 950-999 a month before "go live"?
    If you answered yes to question 1, please continue. If you answered no, this workflow may not be appropriate for your institution.
  2. What are a few examples (ILS bib ids/a system identifer for the bib record) with extensive item and institution-specific data?
  3. How can these bibliographic records be identified in the ILS?
  4. How many records would you estimate contain these extensive item and institution-specific data?
  5. Will the Post-Migration Workflow to Restore Special Collection Bibliographic Records meet your needs for these records? If yes, this workflow will meet your needs, you should begin to identify these records in your ILS database. If this workflow will not meet your needs, please reach out to  or Basecamp to discuss this further.