Systems Department RLIN/OCLC Review and Analysis

Ann Montanaro

Three members of the Systems Department participated in the review of RLIN and OCLC: Ann Montanaro, Chris Sterback, and Bob Warwick. The review focused on four specific topics:

The most critical issue for the Systems Department is record handling. While Systems has no stake in which utility is used for technical services work and will support whatever decision is made, significant time has been invested over the past 32 years to perfect the routines used to import and export RLIN records. The work needed in record management to add OCLC as a cataloging utility is not trivial and will take time to resolve.

IRIS has been Rutgers= Adatabase of record@ since 1990. Cataloging is done in IRIS (Unicorn) and records for newly cataloged and revised items are sent to RLIN each week. Changes are made to Rutgers records in RLIN only when the last copy is withdrawn. In contrast, the Rutgers records in the OCLC database have not been maintained. Over the past 10 years a New Jersey State Library grant supporting interlibrary loans has provided funding for the loading of Rutgers records into the OCLC database. Each year records were loaded; however, large error files were returned from OCLC that were not reviewed at the time of receipt. In the past year or so, Systems and Cataloging evaluated the errors and determined that OCLC was not loading any original Rutgers cataloging. (Work is underway to have OCLC approve Rutgers original cataloging so that those records will be loaded in the future.) Only about 60% of the titles that appear in IRIS are represented in the OCLC database. It has been the Rutgers= practice to do no maintenance on the records in the OCLC database. As a result, not only is OCLC lacking a large number of Rutgers titles, it also includes many titles no longer held by Rutgers. For almost a year Bob Warwick has been working with PALINET and OCLC to find a way to accurately reflect Rutgers holdings in OCLC. In a previous RLIN/OCLC review, PALINET reported that in order to have the OCLC database accurately represent Rutgers= holdings there would be a charge to remove the NJR symbol from OCLC and another per/record charge to reload all of the records. The substantial expense estimated for this clean-up made the correction impossible. All of that is to say that before any cataloging can be done in OCLC, the Rutgers holdings must be corrected and that will require a concerted effort by Systems, Cataloging, PALINET, and OCLC.

Another record consideration that has to be resolved is that of establishing a unique title control number for each bibliographic record to be used as an overlay key. Currently each Unicorn record uses the unique ACatkey@ as the title control number. This is then used as the match element in all of the Unicorn record-loading programs. The catkey is a sequential number assigned by the system at the time a record gets created. When Unicorn was initially installed the catkey was based on LCCNs, ISBNs, and ISSNs. In order to implement authority control all of these numbers had to be changed to ensure that they were unique and that a proper overlay would occur. The viability of this title control number in the OCLC environment will need to be considered. A new method for selecting title control numbers may be necessary and this may impact all other dataloads.

Processing new cataloging for export to either utility can be accomplished without particular difficulty. Since 1999 Rutgers has been sending weekly files of cataloging records to RLIN. The records are initially SmartPORTed from RLIN to Unicorn. Holdings are added and, if necessary, the records are modified . Then the completed record is exported to RLIN based on dates in the records. If cataloging is done in OCLC, the Systems Department will use a similar process to identify records and send them to OCLC. While Systems can keep the current cataloging records up-to-date in both utilities, other procedures will have to be developed in Cataloging to handle corrections and last copy withdrawals in OCLC.

Adding OCLC as a cataloging utility does not present any serious software or hardware concerns. The software used for both utilities can easily be installed and testing has shown that both can reside and run simultaneously on existing equipment. RLIN is accessed in technical services (both in TSB and elsewhere) by using the Systems-installed RLIN Terminal for Windows software. Systems is prepared to install the OCLC software wherever needed. The hardware requirements for RLIN are comparable to those needed for OCLC. Since the Unicorn software will require additional memory to support the 2003 release, all technical services computers without adequate memory will be upgraded in the near future.

The Systems Department will be closely involved in testing and implementing vendor-supplied processes and products in Acquisitions and Cataloging. It is anticipated that additional customized loaders will be needed to support the importing of sets of catalog records from vendors or utilities, pre-processed, and shelf-ready materials. Systems has customized, tested, and demonstrated a Unicorn label-producing program that can now be used and will work with Acquisitions to test and implement the OCLC labeling software if selected.

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