Related product I-Share

Cooperative Cataloging Policies for I-Share


I-Share is an online catalog and library management system operated by and for the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI) to support library resource sharing among participating member institutions. Traditionally, CARLI and I-Share participants embrace a broad definition of resource sharing, ranging from reciprocal borrowing among libraries and their patrons, to sharing of bibliographic and collection data, to the development and sharing of expertise.

The CARLI I-Share Participant Institution Agreement outlines the terms for institutional participation in I-Share and the responsibilities of participating institutions. These terms include that a participant shall, “Provide and maintain current bibliographic data in I-Share describing the library’s collection, holdings and item availability status in acceptable formats and quality standards,” according to the instructions in this document.

I-Share participants, also referred to here as member libraries, build and maintain a collaborative catalog by coordinating data, streamlining workflows in the management of resources, and keeping information consistent across institutions. The Alma I-Share Environment consists of three zones that serve as repositories for different types of metadata and library workflows. 

  • Institution Zone (IZ). Each I-Share member operates with its own Institution Zone that consolidates library data with configurations and workflows for routine library operations. Within an IZ, bibliographic metadata are shared across the institution, with inventory data managed at library level. 
  • Network Zone (NZ). I-Share member libraries collaborate with each other via the Network Zone (NZ). Primarily, member libraries contribute bibliographic records for their collections to the NZ, with the metadata for such records shared among all members. Enabling other members to link data on acquired resources to existing consortial records benefits all I-Share patrons by presenting more consistent experiences in locating and accessing the resources they need. Additionally, CARLI uses the NZ to distribute a common set of metadata for consortially-managed electronic resources, managing data at scale instead of duplicating effort in each member library.
  • Community Zone (CZ). The Alma Community Zone (CZ) is a shared repository of metadata and link-resolver data for the Alma community, which includes CARLI and I-Share member libraries. Community members participate in providing and maintaining CZ metadata as a possible source of bibliographic metadata and a means to manage data and workflows collaboratively.

As stewards of shared consortial data, I-Share member libraries should adhere to the following policies and standards for cataloging physical and electronic collections in the I-Share Environment.


I. I-Share member libraries will be members in good standing of OCLC. This entails the following obligations:

  1. Familiarity and compliance with OCLC’s WorldCat Principles of Cooperation.
  2. Represent holdings in WorldCat for permanent physical and electronic collections.
  3. Enhance and correct records in WorldCat following OCLC Bibliographic Formats and Standards. Minimally, member libraries should report errors found in WorldCat records.
  4. Original cataloging performed in WorldCat following OCLC Bibliographic Formats and Standards, Chapter 4, “When to input a new record.”

II. I-Share member libraries will contribute cataloging data that accurately describe their physical and electronic collections following current descriptive and technical standards. These include the following formats and accompanying standards.

  1. Full-level cataloging. Descriptions shall meet the definition of “full-level cataloging” established by OCLC Bibliographic Formats and Standards, which “seeks to ensure inclusion of the essential data elements necessary to meet user needs.” OCLC Bibliographic Formats and Standards applies the requirements of RDA or AACR2 second-level description to the MARC21 Format for Bibliographic Data.
  2. Cataloging record sources. Member libraries may use records from WorldCat, the Alma Community Zone, or other sources. The quality and completeness of records in I-Share catalogs should meet the standards described in this document.
  3. Authorized access points. Headings for names and subjects should conform to the Library of Congress authority files or other nationally recognized thesauri. New authorized access points should be constructed to be compliant with RDA.
  4. Single record per manifestation. Contribute only one record per manifestation to the I-Share environment. In practical terms, only one copy of a record with the same OCLC number should be present in the NZ and/or IZ.
  5. Provider-neutral records for electronic resources. Use a single bibliographic record to describe multiple online manifestations of a resource, regardless of which publisher or aggregator is making the content available. The description should apply only to equivalent manifestations of the same expression; substantial (not just incidental) differences may indicate a different expression, which should be described in a separate record.
  6. Holdings statements for physical inventory. Holdings descriptions shall accurately describe the extent of the member library’s physical holdings in each location where resources are present using the MARC 21 Format for Holdings Data and ANSI/NISO Z39.71 Holdings Statements for Bibliographic Items
  7. Details for accessing electronic inventory. Holdings for electronic inventory will be accessible by link resolver objects or portfolios in Alma; bibliographic MARC 856 fields should not be used for access.
  8. Digital objects. If a member library chooses to add metadata for digital objects to its IZ, descriptions for these objects should conform to applicable standards for digital resources, such as Dublin Core, MODS, METS, or other field- or format-specific schemas. Member libraries may not use I-Share as a digital object repository without a contract for Alma-D.

III. I-Share member libraries will collaborate with CARLI and other libraries to identify and improve the accuracy and completeness of shared catalog data, and they will respect the effort of other member libraries.

  1. Quality control and routine library data maintenance. Each I-Share member library shall follow a plan for quality control and routine maintenance of data. At a minimum, libraries should act in accordance with any priorities that CARLI recommends for data maintenance.
  2. CARLI consortial data maintenance. CARLI Staff will periodically perform maintenance activities in the NZ and as needed in IZs on behalf of member libraries. Consortial maintenance activities may consist of updates to authorized access points, corrections to invalid data, localizing institutional data from the shared record, merging and/or relinking of duplicate bibliographic records, and other maintenance priorities as identified by CARLI Staff, CARLI Committees, or member libraries.
  3. Do no harm to existing records. Make no changes to a full-level record that causes the record to represent a different work, expression, or manifestation than the record already describes. When in doubt whether a difference in your item constitutes a difference in the existing record, consult OCLC Bibliographic Formats and Standards, Chapter 4, “When to input a new record.” 
  4. Retain access points. Retain in records any access points that may be valid under different vocabularies, including those for non-English language vocabularies. Member libraries may opt to configure Primo VE to display only selected vocabularies.
  5. Withdrawn records. Member libraries will withdraw and delete records when the library has removed all existing inventory.

IV. Bibliographic records for I-Share member libraries’ permanent collections should be shared with the network to improve consortial data on holdings. These data support consortium-wide discovery, copy cataloging, resource sharing, and collection retention.

  1. Search the I-Share Network Zone for candidate bibliographic records and use an appropriate record found there first before importing a “new” record from another source.
  2. Member libraries should routinely identify unlinked IZ bibliographic records and attempt to link or contribute these records to the NZ.

V. I-Share member libraries may retain bibliographic records in their Institution Zone only (i.e., remain unlinked from the Network Zone) under the following limited circumstances. Member libraries may apply lesser cataloging standards than “full-level cataloging” to unlinked records, and these resources may still be discoverable via the “All I-Share Libraries” search slot in Primo VE.

  1. Records for temporary collections (e.g., course reserves, personal copies, rental collections).
  2. Brief records that describe equipment and other loanable technology may remain unlinked from the network. 
  3. Records contractually restricted from sharing. Vendors may provide a member library with catalog data but restrict sharing of records only to libraries that also utilize their service. Such records should remain in the Institution Zone only.
  4. Records for interlibrary loan items. Records for materials on loan from other libraries may be added, automatically or manually, to the Institution Zone. Such records should remain suppressed from discovery. These records should be removed from the Institution Zone after the loan is concluded, and these records should never include any personal information about the borrower.

VI. Bibliographic control numbers are essential to effective duplicate control and necessary for many types of automated maintenance. Record matching between IZ and NZ is based on the OCLC system number. Member libraries should choose records that contain OCLC control numbers whenever possible. If OCLC control numbers are not present, prefer records that contain another system control number that identifies the record uniquely (e.g., ISBN, ISSN, vendor control number, vendor title number, etc.).

VII. Copy-specific details. Member libraries should record copy-specific details in institution-level inventory records, such as holdings and items or portfolios, and selectively in bibliographic local extensions.

  1. Call numbers. Call numbers for specific copies should be included in the holding record classification and item number fields (i.e., 852 subfields h & i) to display this information to patrons via item displays and print outs. Optionally, when a member library’s local practices entail including the call number in a bibliographic record, use a local extension 09X field. 
  2. Notes. Additional descriptive details specific to a member library’s copy should be included in the holding record notes fields and item record notes fields. If enhancing the bibliographic description as well, enter these notes in local extension 59X or 9XX fields. 
  3. Locally-relevant access points. Authorized access points that pertain to member library collections (e.g., collection names, local authors, etc.) should be included in local extension 69X fields.


History of This Document

  • Approved by the CARLI Governance Board, June 16, 2023.
  • Prepared by CARLI Staff and the CARLI Technical Services Committee, May 25, 2023. This document is the unification of two previous documents: the Cooperative Cataloging Guidelines for I-Share, and the Standards for Bibliographic Records in I-Share.

History of the Cooperative Cataloging Guidelines for I-Share document

  • Endorsed by the CARLI Board of Directors March 13, 2015. 
  • Updated December 2014 by the Technical Services Committee to incorporate RDA and other new protocols.
  • Updated August 2010 by the I-Share Cataloging and Authority Control team to incorporate recommendations from the "Cataloging Electronic Resources/Electronic Resources Display in the OPAC Task Force (2009)".
  • Updated October 2006 by the I-Share Cataloging and Authority Control Team to incorporate consortial and system name changes.
  • Approved by the ILCSO Board of Directors April 12, 2004. 
  • Approved by the ILCSO Users’ Advisory Group (IUAG) March 12, 2004.
  • Prepared by the IUAG Consortial Cataloging and Authority Control Committee February 2004.

History of the Standards for Bibliographic Records in I-Share document

  • Endorsed by the CARLI Board of Directors March 13, 2015. 
  • Updated December 2014 by the CARLI Technical Services Committee to incorporate RDA and other new protocols.
  • Updated October 2006 by the I-Share Cataloging and Authority Control Team to incorporate consortial and system name changes.
  • Approved by the ILCSO Board of Directors December 5, 2003
  • Approved by the ILCSO Users’ Advisory Group (IUAG) September 5, 2003
  • Proposed by the IUAG Consortial Cataloging and Authority Control Committee August 2003
    • As revised by Arnold Wajenberg, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Don E. Wood, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (October 1989)
    • *Originally Based upon Illinois OCLC Users' Group STANDARDS FOR (OCLC) INPUT CATALOGING (October 1983)