RLG Guidelines for Using 050 _4

Since one of the barriers to using 050_4 identified by respondents to the RLIN-L survey earlier this year was uncertainty about when to include the 050 _4 in their records, RLG has prepared the following guidelines:

  1. The use of 050 with 2nd indicator 4 must be determined on a record by record basis. That is, 050 _4 should not be used as an unchanging default tag for library-supplied LC-style classification numbers for all items cataloged if the library varies even occasionally from strict interpretation of LC practice. If an individual call number does not meet the requirements of 2 & 3 below, it should not be included in 050 _4.
  2. Classification numbers and subject cutter numbers should follow LC schedules and the tables therein without variation. Cutter numbers for literary authors and their works are included in this requirement. The level of specificity of a classification number or subject cutter should be appropriate to the work in accordance with LC classification policies.
  3. Cutter numbers for the author of the work being classified need not follow the same cuttering scheme as LC.
  4. Any variations beyond these would result in a call number that does not qualify to be included in 050 with 2nd indicator 4. In case of doubt about the nature of your variations, do not use 050 _4.

Survey respondents also raised specific questions about whether local modifications to LC practice should still be tagged as 050 _4, to which RLG staff have provided responses, appended below.

We hope that these guidelines and questions-and-answers provide the guidance needed. We are encouraged by reports that a number of libraries have already begun using 050 _4 where appropriate.

Karen Smith-Yoshimura
Director, Library and Bibliographic Services


As promised, RLG staff have discussed how best to follow up on the barriers to using 050 _4 identified by respondents to the classification call number survey. (The barriers identified were posted here on May 30). Our responses to the barriers raised are appended below. Reactions?

Karen Smith-Yoshimura
Director, Library and Bibliographic Services


The barriers that were identified by responding libraries tended to fall into four general areas:

  1. Libraries were unsure about what call number practices would result in call numbers that could legitimately be included in the 050 _4 field.
  2. Libraries use deviant LC practice and/or some categories of materials are not classed in LC at all.
  3. There are mechanical issues that would not allow entering call numbers into an 050 (e.g., a local system that cannot process or index local call numbers in an 050 field; the need to produce cards with properly formatted call numbers)
  4. Workflow issues: for libraries with local systems requiring call numbers on a copy holdings record or some other equivalent area, inputting the call number in the 050 as well would be duplicative effort. (N.B. These libraries are often the same ones that cannot enter the call numbers into the 050 in their local system.)

The first two sets of barriers are easily dealt with: Libraries should never enter non-LC call numbers or deviant LC numbers into the 050 _4. RLG guidelines for using 050_4 have been posted separately in response.

The mechanical and workflow issues are more difficult to address. Ultimately, when workflow issues come to the fore, the only solution may be to perform the extra work to reap the long-term benefit that wide adoption of this practice would afford. Use of the 050 _4 would vastly simplify sorting copy into processing streams. The fact that so many respondents indicated that they make partial use of non-LC or deviant LC classification indicates that wider use of the 050 _4 for qualifying call numbers might be extremely valuable and that a mechanism to distinguish between acceptable and non-acceptable LC call numbers is long overdue.

One of the suggested solutions to the workflow issues was for RLIN to convert or transfer numbers into the 050 after the records are entered, or that 090s in records loaded from local systems be changed to 050s as part of the dataload conversion. There is one insurmountable problem with any solution that posits an automated, post-cataloging approach to transferring call numbers: It would be impossible to efficiently verify that the call numbers were really valid LC numbers--particularly since almost all institutions have some category of items not classed in LC. A batch approach based on the institutional source, therefore, would not always work. If USMARC holdings were used with correct indicator values following the guidelines for using 050 _4, then it might be feasible to convert the LC classification numbers in the USMARC holdings to 050_4 as part of the dataload conversion. However, survey respondents indicated that they could not output such records yet.

Automated solutions that could be implemented locally by the contributing institution (e.g. use of macros or visual basic programs to transfer call numbers from holdings to 050) might be more feasible as long as any local non-LC or deviant LC numbers could be excluded.

Workflow issues, of course, can only be addressed within the particular institution since the constraints that govern workflow are often unique and cannot be dealt with enmasse. However, solutions such as the use of copy-and-paste (within the local system in which cataloging take place, if possible, or, for those institutions that catalog in RLIN, via RLIN for Windows software) may reduce the inefficiency that entering the call number into a record twice might pose for those who are constrained to use some other record component for call numbers. The degree to which this solution would be acceptable depends on the benefits the institution expects from the widespread use of the 050.

Ultimately, our only response to the issue of a more cumbersome workflow is a question only each library can answer: Are the benefits from identifying copy with acceptable LC call numbers more easily worth the effort to enter call numbers in the 050 of one's cataloging (or at the very least, one's original cataloging)?

Last updated August 21, 1995.
URL: http://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rul/staff/technical_services/cataloging/d-r050.shtml
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