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Separate Records Policy for Electronic Monographs

On September 15, 2008, Metadata Services began using a separate records policy for cataloging of electronic monographs.  We will “set holdings” on OCLC for the electronic separate record.

In November 2008, the national policy for electronic federal documents changed to a separate record policy.  In January 2009, Unit Heads agreed to adopt a policy of separate records for California documents, thus creating one policy for all electronic monographs with just one exception for Special Collections & Archives (SC&A).

The “single record policy” for SC&A is not changed by this policy.  For items digitized by SC&A of their holdings, they will use the single record policy, adding a 583 note with $u [URL] to the OCLC master print record which would alert other institutions that the item has already been digitized (URL will be put in 856 for Roger record).  When an electronic version of an item SC&A holds has already been digitized by another institution, SC&A catalogers may use the separate record policy, since the digital version is not a digital surrogate of SC&A holdings.

Serials continue to follow a single record policy, both at UC San Diego and through the Shared Cataloging Program.

Metadata Services will develop a series of projects to disentangle the retrospective file and convert single records to separate records that meet current national cataloging standards.

Past practice and background:  When electronic monographs began to be acquired by the UC San Diego Library, Metadata Services began the practice of combining electronic and print versions in a single bibliographic record.  In those early days (approximately 2001-2002), emonos were purchased in small groups (less than a thousand at a time) and we could better afford to invest in the manual labor to merge the versions together by hand.  Obviously, this did not scale, and as time has gone by, we evolved to a mixed practice—doing single records when it suited us, and doing separate records when the emono collections were too large.

Current concerns leading to the need for change:

  • The amount of manual work required by the single record policy has become untenable, and there are no automated techniques that can do this successfully on the scale that we would need.
  • This is a growing workload, with no signs of diminishing.  We certainly could not merge records for the electronic versions from the Google Digitization Project.  We also are increasing our ebook purchases through YBP, which will supply us with separate records.
  • The maintenance workload for single records, as we withdraw more print in favor of electronic, is trickier under the single record policy.
  • The UC-wide policy, agreed to through the Shared Cataloging Program, is a separate record policy.  We are the only campus that then attempts (inconsistently) to merge the separate electronic record with the print record for our local catalog.
  • The single record policy negatively affects Melvyl.  Users cannot get the specific URL from Melvyl because it cannot find the separate record in the local catalog.  Request may in turn have difficulties with fulfillment.
  • We believe that the substantial inconsistency in our current treatment of emonos confuses both users and catalogers.  How do we write coherent guidelines for when (and when not) to merge records?  Can ILL staff interpret the records when multiple versions are merged within one record?

We believe that the separate record policy will provide better service to users for several reasons:

  • Because pre-existing sets of records can often be obtained and batch loaded, users will be able to discover these materials sooner.
  • Utilizing batches of records will free up staff time to do other cataloging and metadata work.
  • UC San Diego Library electronic holdings stand out more in the Browse display and appear clearer (at least to us) in Roger.
  • Improved consistency should be less confusing for all.

Prepared by L. Barnhart

Idea developed and vetted in Summer/Fall 2008

Revised: November 2013 by Hanley Cocks and Aislinn Sotelo

Approved:  February 2014 by Roger Metadata Policy Group