Behind the scenes – what a catalogue record looks like!

We are about to embark on the process of moving to a new Library Management System, or LMS. This is a lengthy process, as the LMS effectively manages most core functions of a library, such as cataloguing resources, managing the loan/use of those resources and the records of our users. So transferring to a new system is a complex project, and one that we will keep you updated on over the course of the coming months. What we can say with certainty is that a new LMS will represent a significant upgrade, both for us as library staff and you as the user!

The prospect of the new LMS got me thinking about how the ‘librarian’s view’ of the interface differs from the public view. So, for all the non-librarians out there, here’s how a catalogue record appear in its coded form, versus how it appears in the public view:

The bibliographic record for ‘The Nature of Leadership’

This is a MARC (machine readable cataloguing) record, and each of the fields (the numbers down the left-hand side) dictate the type of information in that field. So, for example:

  • 020 = the International Standard Book Number or ISBN
  • 245 = Title statement
  • 250 = Edition statement
  • 264 = Production, Publication, Distribution, Manufacture, and Copyright Notice
  • 300 = Physical description (pagination, size)
  • 505 = Formatted contents note
  • 650 = Subject entry – specifically a topical term
  • 700 = Added entry, personal name (as this is an edited book, the editor gets an added entry. If the book was authored rather than edited, the principle author would get a 100 ‘main’ entry)
  • 969 = Internal note to identify who catalogued the item

See how this translates to the public view of the catalogue record, which also contains the item records for each of the print copies we have:

The online catalogue record

If you look closely, not all of the information in the ‘librarian’s view’ of the record appears in the public view. Some of it is for internal use only, and what appears is dictated by the way the information is coded.

Ebooks are catalogued in the same way, only without information relating to a physical description of the item (for obvious reasons…) and incorporating a link to the eBook itself.

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