C&MS News July 2019

Welcome, Library colleagues!  C&MS News is a quarterly update of events and activities in Catalog & Metadata Services.

Arabic and Persian Catalog Record Enhancement Project

Imad Abuelgasim (Arabic cataloger) and Reza Yaghobi (Kurdish, Persian, Arabic, and Turkish cataloger) worked with selector Mohamed Hamed (Middle & Near Eastern Studies librarian) and Eileen Pinto of LIT last month to re-load almost 80,000 Arabic and Persian records from OCLC to bring in vernacular fields into records for OskiCat users.  This resulted in the addition of vernacular fields for 85% of Arabic records and 56% of Persian records.  Thanks to all for a very satisfying collaboration that increases discoverability for our users.

Vendor Service Update

Changes in project prioritization have caused C&MS to move implementation of vendor services for e-monographs and French acquisitions to late summer or early fall.  In the meantime, we've been working non-stop with other vendors to get additional projects off the ground.  New projects include shelf-ready services for the Francis Violich Latin American Urban Planning Collection, the Jeffrey Alan Hadler Collection (primarily South East Asian works), and a new ongoing contract for English language materials.  Possible new vendor projects for 2019/20 may include a portion of the Media Resource Center's backlog of video on DVD and VHS, recent and older Slavic gifts, as well as approximately 8,000 UC Berkeley English language monographs stored at NRLF which lack basic descriptive metadata (aka low level records). 

What is a backlog?

A casual walk around 250 Moffitt may lead one to wonder, "Is all this material a backlog?" To which we would answer, "Not all of it."

At any given moment there are anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 items in the current C&MS monographic workflow.  The current workflow consists of several things: newly received materials being sorted in workflow distribution (primarily by language), materials in student copy cataloging, staff cataloging, and in the marking unit.  In addition, there are e-help tickets for e-resource cataloging and maintenance and BadCat tickets for maintenance and tracing - none of which can be seen on your stroll through 250 Moffitt. On average, excluding vendor cataloging, just about 5,000 items are cataloged (and problems resolved) monthly. 

Why are there backlogs? Backlogs arise under the following conditions:

  1. More material is received than can be cataloged (or resolved) in one workflow cycle (1 month)
  2. Materials are collected in languages where C&MS has no expertise
  3. Gifts (small and large) are received that require special handling
  4. Materials are collected in formats or languages where C&MS has no assigned cataloger
  5. During Summer and Winter (and finals and mid-terms...) student catalogers are not available 

Materials in categories 1, 3 and 4 can sometimes be handled by assigning projects to staff who then work those materials into their regular workflow over time.  Materials in categories 1 and 2 can be managed via outsourcing (when funds and vendors are available). Category 5 could be handled by relying somewhat less on student workers and hiring a few Library Assistants.

Two things bear mentioning:

  1. On your tour of 250 Moffitt you'll also see several shelving ranges dedicated to selector review and referrals and to the Acquisition Department's work.
  2. Nearly 100% of the backlog consists of material for the MAIN stacks. 

What backlogs currently exist? 

Category Backlog Quantity



2 SEA (Burmese, Indonesian, Malay, Khmer, Lao, Tagalog, Thai, Vietnamese, etc.)  6,900 Vendor Funding
1 SA (Baluchi, Bengali, Grahul, Hindi, Nepali, Panjabi, Pushtu, Rajasthani, Sanskrit, etc.)  1,800

Peg away

2 Miscellaneous languages (Malagasy, Yoruba, Swahilli, Romanian, etc.)    700 Vendor Funding and finding a vendor who works in these languages
1, 5 Slavic (e.g. Bulgarian, Czech, Serbian, Ukrainian, etc. - not Russian or Polish) 2,800 Peg away and  Vendor Lack of staff and Funding
1,3,4,5 English 1,500 Vendor Current contract exists, but supports only 1,000 items per year
1, 5 Spanish 1,000 Peg away and Vendor Funding
1 e-monographs, e-serials, and databases 1,000 Peg away and Vendor Note: e-Gobi "shelf-ready" to be implemented Summer 2019; all e-resources are accessible and searchable (by title or keyword) in OskiCat prior to full cataloging
1 MAIN Circulation Snags 1,900 Peg away Note: Access Services Division technical processing lead works on this material half-time
4 Microforms 1,200 Vendor Funding
3, 4 MRC (DVD, VHS, BETA, U-matic) 3,100 Vendor Funding
3 Selector Accepted Gifts 1,400 Vendor Funding
1 NRLF rejects  1,500 Peg away Lack of staff

So yes, there is most definitely a backlog (almost 25,000 items), but keep in mind, every single staff cataloger in C&MS (10 full-time, 2 half-time) is working very hard to catalog (or resolve) as much as possible, as quickly as possible. Fortunately, we're very good at what we do, and as a bonus, we also really enjoy doing it.   

Staffing Updates

C&MS is thrilled for our 2019 retiree, Michelle Robinson Goode.  After 32 years of service to the University (18 of which were in cataloging) we wish Michelle great happiness and good health.

C&MS' spring recruitment for an English & Western European Languages cataloger was filled by a very well-qualified internal candidate, Ute Rupp.  Congratulations Ute!

Thanks and encouragement go to Trina Pundurs as she begins service on the Systemwide ILS Data Cleanup Task Force. We appreciate her commitment to our metadata!

And finally, a robust round of applause for Reza Yaghobi (Kurdish, Persian, Arabic, and Turkish languages cataloger) for earning his MLIS in May from Queens College, New York.

C&MS Staff Focus: every issue will feature a different C&MS story

Meet Bob Talbott, C&MS Principal Cataloger

How long have you been a part of the Library's cataloging operation? I started as a part-time employee while in a master's program at the GTU back in April of 1998, and then became full-time in Spring of 1999, so 20-21 years. 

How did you become interested in cataloging?  I have always had an interest in it, even when I didn’t really grasp that some librarians did it professionally.  If someone had told me when I was 18 years old and arranging my album collection by the color of the spine that I could get paid to do something similar (but not identical; we typically don’t catalog them by color) with books, I would have been elated.

The act of cataloging is a source of pleasure and enjoyment for me still.  In fact, I have at home an active and hand-curated card catalog for my personal book collection.  It’s fun.

In what languages are the materials you most often catalog? The languages I deal with on a typical day may include Hebrew, Yiddish, Modern Greek, Turkish, Hungarian, and English. I have taken numerous language courses over the years.  So with a bit of help from a dictionary or a grammar, I’m competent in the Germanic languages, French, Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Portuguese, Italian, Latin (semper ubi sub ubi), and Attic Greek.  I’ve also had turns at studying Arabic, Sumerian, Akkadian, and Biblical Aramaic.

What’s the most complicated classification area to work with? Why?  Classification, the act of assigning a call number to a book based on its subject matter, is in the main a fairly obvious activity: the first part of the number, the class, comes from a schedule and reflects the primary topic of the book, while the second part is a unique alpha-numeric, called a cutter, that reflects a central access point on the book.  While there are many, many permutations of this formula, the instance above more less reflects the majority of call numbers.  Conceptually, it’s pretty easy to grasp.

What’s not easy is finding the right class to start one’s call number.  The classification system we use is the one used by the Library of Congress and it assumes a certain amount of subject competence and also an equal amount of being able to anticipate and/or acknowledge the foibles of the classification taxonomy as it exists.  Fortunately with the various internet resources at our disposal the requisite research that is inevitably required when one moves into topical regions with which one is unfamiliar has become much less onerous, there are still plenty of curve balls.  Turkey is an excellent example.

Turkey has territory in two continents and is referred to as a gateway to the East or West, depending on who’s speaking. Even the Turks have mixed notions about whether they are part of the West or part of the East.  This bit of disorientation (or disoccidentation, if you will) very much makes a showing in several places in the schedules, and it hits on all of the major difficulties the classification system has to offer.

An easy to grasp instance is the History of Turkey.  Rather than having one class that is subdivided in the usual ways, e.g. locale, time period, ethnicity, and so on, Turkey’s geographic split between continents means two classes are used:  for general Turkish history, DR, the same code that’s used for the Balkan countries, is employed.  However, if the primary topic of a book is a region, city, or geographic region in Anatolia, DS51 is assigned.   This is a significant issue because not only is the majority of Turkish countryside in this part of the country, but also some of the oldest human settlements known are found here, and many important civilizations have claimed turf in the region.  One upshot of this is that the incidence of publication is fairly high since it broadens the scope of topics that can fall into this class; if you’re dealing with Turkish history books, there’s a better than even chance you’ll have to engage DS51.  And this is all without even mentioning the Kurdish and Armenian minorities in the east, the Roma in the west, the expelled Greek population, and dozens of other ethnicities that can if warranted break free of the DR/DS51 brain-twister and introduce new and exciting call number excruciations. 

Going back to the first question, what is your favorite album these days?  Come, my fanatics...  by Electric Wizard

C&MS welcomes your feedback.