Wednesday, March 2, 2016

WISCAT Union Catalog Records

This is the second of a two-part post about the WISCAT union catalog
Read part one

How do records get into the Union Catalog?
In 1982, the WISCAT union catalog database was started by merging the archival tapes of existing machine-readable cataloging (MARC) records of Wisconsin libraries subscribed to OCLC. Archival files continued to be obtained from OCLC to update and add records in the catalog until 2003. By then, the union catalog contained MARC records for 7.1 million titles, displaying the holdings of 1255 Wisconsin libraries.
Image of a traditional library catalog card
Library Catalog Card

After libraries converted their card catalogs to computer catalogs, they could export MARC record files from those local catalogs onto floppy discs and later on CD to send to WISCAT staff for processing in the union catalog. Batch processing added their library holdings to existing records in the union catalog and entered new MARC records. 

Today, catalog records enter the union catalog through batch processing and copy cataloging.
  • Batch Processing - A file of MARC (.mrc) records exported from the local library catalog is deposited at a specified FTP website for the union catalog database manager to pick up and process.     
    • The library's record is added if it meets cataloging standards and there's no existing record for the item. 
    • If a matching record is found in the union catalog, the library's holdings information is added to the existing record. 
    • MARC (.mrc) files may be a complete strip/reload or only additions or only deletions 
  • Copy Cataloging - Staff with cataloging permission set in their library's WISCAT access may copy a bibliographic record into the union catalog from library catalogs searchable in WISCAT such as the Library of Congress. A thorough search for an existing record in the union catalog should first be made to avoid introducing unnecessary duplicate records. 
Image showing Copy Cataloging function used to add Library of Congress bibliographic record into Union Catalog
Library staff use Copy Cataloging function to add a bibliographic record into union catalog

An alternative option to the union catalog has been available to Wisconsin libraries since 2002, when WISCAT became Z39.50 compatible. There are now 69 Wisconsin library catalogs searched via their Zservice connections in WISCAT. These library catalogs are searched in real-time and show the current record information and shelf status. 

Any cost or fee?
No fee is charged and a WISCAT license is not required for libraries to submit batch files of MARC records to be processed for adding or updating their holdings in the union catalog, and to participate in interlibrary loan as a lender.

A WISCAT license enables a library to download MARC records, add holdings to union catalog records interactively or have a Z39.50 connection made to their Zservice compliant catalog, and to fully participate in interlibrary loan.

For more information, please contact WISCAT staff. 

Written by:
Vickie Long, Resources for Libraries & Lifelong Learning team