What kind of cataloger are you?

What kind of cataloger do you want to be?


The cat in the hat:


If you wear many hats and one of them happens to be a cataloger hat, that’s great!  Your willingness to take on this task is key to making items findable and borrow-able to your patrons.  Thank you!

What you do:

Find existing bib records in our shared system and match with items you wish to add to your collection.

When you will need help and how to get it:

If you’re new to working in libraries or to working with Workflows, reach out to us for some training. We can visit, Zoom, or walk you through the steps over the phone, depending on what’s practical given your needs and available technology. 

If you’ve already been trained and just want to brush up on the process, you can review the instructions for How to add an item or call number 

Anytime you can’t find a match, you will want to email us (support [at] superiorlandlibrary . org).  Follow the instructions for requesting a record given in the previous blog post. 


Catwings:  Take cataloging to the next level


If you are very comfortable adding records, have a good understanding of the basic structure of a bibliographic record, and are a little frustrated by the number of records you don’t find, we can give you access to a tool in Workflows called SmartPort.

What you do:

SmartPort allows you to search beyond our shared collection for bibliographic records.  If you are a school library, this tool will give you access to records from libraries across the state.  If you are a public library, we can give you access to bibliographic records from the OCLC national database. 

You will need to be vigilant that the records you import match the material you have.  You will at times need to use the Modify Title wizard to strip any extra ISBN’s for other formats for the title and to flag records that need an upgrade. 

When you will need help and how to get it:

If you’d like to start using SmartPort, email Support (support [at] superiorlandlibrary . org) to request SmartPort training.  We will adjust your settings in Workflows to give you access to both SmartPort and Modify Title wizards. 

If you’ve had the training and wish to review the process, we have a handout on How to Use SmartPort.

When you are using SmartPort there will be times when you still can’t find a match.  This could mean many things.  You might just need help searching.  The item you have in your hand could be an advanced copy.  (Scanning the ISBN into a Google search field can help bring up the on-shelf date.) If the title’s not released yet, the item needs to be set aside till it reaches its on-shelf date.   Or if you can’t find a record, it could mean no one has made one for this title yet.  In any case, we can help you search for a record or build a record for your item.  Email support [at] superiorlandlibrary . org if you need assistance.


Warrior Cat:  Loves the wildlife


If you are experienced with importing records and making small modifications, you may be interested in building your own records.  Maybe you took a cataloging class in library school and have some training already.  Maybe your library director is interested in having someone on staff who can dedicate the time to building records for a collection of unique materials.  Maybe your patrons are eager to check out materials for which you can’t find records. 

What you do:

You can use Add Title or Duplicate Title wizards in Workflows to build new bibliographic records. 

When you will need help and how to get it:

Building records requires an understanding of MaRC (Machine Readable Cataloging code) and RDA and AACR2 standards established by international teams of librarians.  If you have an MLS, you probably took a semester long class.  If you don’t have an MLS, you can still learn this skill.  MCLS offers short courses in cataloging

You can start out slow and build your skills over time.  You can find instructions for creating a minimalist record in Options for Titles Not Found in Smartport. If you create a record, make sure to add a 590 tag with the work “upgrade” in the field.  Someone in our office will see your tag and review your record, upgrading as needed. 

You can find useful information on how to format each field in a MaRC record on OCLC’s Bibliographic Formats and Standards page.

Library of Congress has a number of useful learning tools available for free online. 

Checkout the AUTOCAT listserve and the Troublesome Catalogers and Magical Metadata Fairies Facebook group where catalogers ask each other questions and debate the finer aspects of the discipline.

Learning how to improve one’s cataloging skills ends with death or retirement.  Personally, I’m planning to enjoy the ride.  I’m happy to answer your questions. 




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