Related product I-Share

Best Practices for Bibliographic Records from Non-OCLC Sources


In addition to obtaining bibliographic records from OCLC, I-Share libraries increasingly have obtained records through other sources. This development comes about largely, although not entirely, as a consequence of the growing number of electronic resources being acquired by I-Share libraries and the availability of MARC record sets to go with them. In a 2009 survey of I-Share participants done by the Cataloging Electronic Resources/Electronic Resources in the OPAC Task Force, two-thirds of participants responded that their library obtained records for electronic resources from external vendors. The use of these records has potentially important consequences for the future of the I-Share union catalog.

The issues surrounding the use of vendor-supplied records in I-Share databases fall into two main categories: the provision of system control numbers, and restrictions placed by vendors on the use of records. This document represents the recommendations by ICAT for dealing with both of these categories.

In addition to providing access to individual items in a collection, libraries are encouraged to provide a record in your local catalog and in the I-Share union catalog to represent the relevant collection as a whole when such a record will enhance access.  In most cases the collection will have a readily identifiable title under which it may be cataloged:  for examples, see OCLC #53285706 and #53816976.  If no title is readily identifiable, create a collection-level record following the applicable national standards.

(1) System Control Numbers

System control numbers are essential to effective duplicate control. They provide a unique record identifier that is the key to preventing unwanted proliferation of records, and also to preventing the misidentification of materials through the accidental replacement of one record by a record describing something else. For details on I-Share’s Duplicate Detection processing for the Universal Catalog.

System control numbers are also essential to many types of automated maintenance. For example, if a record is to be updated with a more recent version of itself–to update a URL, for instance–it must be possible to match the new record with the old one.

OCLC records invariably have a unique identifier, the OCLC number, by dint of having been in that database. Vendor-supplied records present a more complex situation.

  • They may altogether lack a system control number. The absence of any unique identifier results in the inability to de-duplicate records. Thus, if four libraries independently acquire the same bibliographic record, there will be four copies of the record in the I-Share union catalog, unless the records are suppressed in the local database.
  • They may include a control number that identifies the record incorrectly. This is sometimes a problem with records that have been generated by means of a bulk process in which records describing one format have been adapted to describe another.  In some cases, such records have been found to retain an existing OCLC number, LCCN or other identifier that originally belonged to a different version of the resource.  The retention of these numbers can cause false overlays both in the I-Share union catalog and in local catalogs.
  • They may provide a unique identifier, but one that is specific to that vendor. The vendor-specific number will serve to de-duplicate the record against other copies of the record from the same vendor, but not against an OCLC record for the same title. While this outcome is not ideal, it is far preferable to the absence of any duplicate control.
  • For e-monographs, regardless of whether the records contain a unique identifier, they may contain ISBNs that are represent the print or other non-electronic format of the titles. ISBNs may be listed in the record in both 10-digit and 13-digit format. Because of this, even if a record has a unique identifier, ISBNs for non-electronic versions increase the possibility of false overlays in both the I-Share union catalog and in local catalogs.

In some cases, records for the same title are available both from OCLC and from another source. Although the OCLC record is preferable for duplicate matching purposes, and will not have any restrictions on its further use within I-Share, there may be good reasons for preferring records from the alternative source. For example:

  • a vendor may supply a set of records for all the titles in a collection, so that they do not need to be cataloged individually
  • a vendor may maintain the records for that collection, e.g. updating URLs when they change
  • a vendor or other source may supply the records at no additional charge. (OCLC WorldCat collection sets are currently not included in the group services contract.)
  • the vendor’s record may provide more complete access points or enhanced description
  • Recent guidelines developed by the Program for Cooperative Cataloging now recommend a provider-neutral format for e-monograph records.  While the exact effect on vendor record processes is still being determined, this may encourage the use and reuse of OCLC records for e-resources by multiple vendors. By following the provider-neutral model, multiple vendors can share the same record, as a single record can now represent all versions of an e-monograph.

Recommendations to libraries regarding System Control Numbers:

R1. In general, prefer records from OCLC to records from other sources.  This is consistent with the Cooperative Cataloging Guidelines for I-Share Databases, and in particular the second guideline.  But libraries may take into account considerations of currency, quality, cost and ease of maintenance.

R2. Strongly prefer records that are uniquely identified by an institution/vendor code and a control number.  They may be given in the 003 and 001 fields respectively (e.g. 003 OCoLC, 001 ocm12345678) or concatenated together in the 035 field (e.g. (OCoLC)ocm12345678).

R3. Do what you can to ensure that the unique identifier is, where appropriate*, an OCLC number.  Ask vendors to supply each MARC record with the appropriate OCLC number and LCCN where the option is available. Especially with records following provider-neutral guidelines, this will allow e-resource records to be de-duplicated in the I-Share union catalog.

R4. Libraries are very strongly encouraged to remove, or ask vendors to exclude, all inappropriate* OCLC, LCCN and other control numbers from any records being loaded into your catalog, and then subsequently into the I-Share union catalog.

R5. Libraries handling records for e-monographs are strongly encouraged to move, or ask vendors to move, all non-electronic ISBNs from the 020 $a.  These ISBNs should be moved to the 020 $z, and 776 $w, when appropriate, as specified by the Provider-Neutral E-Monograph MARC Record Guide.

*An OCLC number, LCCN or other system identifier is appropriate when the record in the originating database describes the same item as the record acquired from the vendor.  For example, the OCLC number is appropriate if both the OCLC record and the vendor record describe the electronic version from the same vendor; it is not appropriate when the OCLC record describes the print version and the vendor record is coded solely to represent the electronic version.

(2) Restrictions on Record Use

Some vendors supply records to a local library with a contractual condition that they are not to be contributed to a shared database or union catalog.  Other vendors allow the records to be contributed, but state that the records are not to be downloaded by other libraries unless they have obtained rights from the vendor to do so.

Over time, prohibitions on contributing records to the I-Share union catalog may erode its usefulness.  Moreover, if the I-Share union catalog were ever to revert to a single shared database, any restrictions on the use of records by other libraries could result in the necessity to remove those records from the database entirely.

Recommendations to libraries regarding Restrictions on Record Use:

R6. If a record may be contributed to the I-Share union catalog but may not be downloaded without prior agreement with the vendor, libraries are very strongly encouraged to insert or have the vendor insert the following statement in a 590 field: RECORD LICENSED BY [VENDOR NAME] FOR USE BY [LIBRARY CODE]. DO NOT USE THIS RECORD WITHOUT VENDOR’S PERMISSION.

R7. Make every effort to have prohibitions on contributing records to the I-Share union catalog waived.  When negotiating the acquisition of MARC records from vendors, inform vendors of measures taken within I-Share to control unauthorized use of records.  These include (a) the insertion of a 590 use restriction note (see R6 above), and (b) the Cooperative Cataloging Guidelines.

R8. If it is not possible to obtain a vendor’s agreement to allow its records to be copied to the I-Share union catalog, libraries are very strongly encouraged to code the records, or have the vendor code the records, so that they are eligible to be loaded into the local database as suppressed from the I-Share union catalog.


Submitted to ILCSO User’s Advisory Group (IUAG)
by the Consortial Cataloging and Authority Control (CCAC) Committee
September 26, 2005

Approved by IUAG October 6, 2005

Updated October 2006 by the I-Share Cataloging and Authority Control Team (ICAT) to incorporate consortial and system name changes.

Updated December 2010 by the I-Share Cataloging and Authority Control Team (ICAT).