Best Practices

This document supplements the MeLCat Catalog Policies and the MeLCat Resource Sharing Policies. Adherence to these practices will ensure the best quality for the MeLCat database, will improve record retrieval for users, and will help your library's records meet the "75% loadable" threshold established in the Policies.

  1. Bibliographic Records
    1. Authority to share records in MeLCat
    2. Minimum record standards
    3. Fields that are highly desired
    4. Overall record quality
    5. Subject headings
    6. Serials records
    7. Electronic resource records
    8. Authority control
  2. Holdings Data
  3. Patron Records

I. Bibliographic Records

a. Authority to share records in MeLCat

Libraries that are contributing purchased bibliographic records are responsible for ensuring that they have the authority to load those records into the MeLCat statewide union catalog.

b. MeLCat minimum record standards for bibliographic records:

  1. All bibliographic records must have a title field (245 subfield a) and type of record (Leader/byte 6), and, if applicable:
    • Edition (250 subfield a),
    • Publisher (260 subfield b), and
    • Date (260 subfield c).
  2. GMD General Material Designation (245 subfield h) must be included in records for video and sound recordings. GMDs are generic terms describing the medium of the item. The list used by MeLCat is from the Library of Congress Rule Interpretations (LCRIs), rule 1.1c, and can be found at: new-window-icon.png
  3. Bib Level (Leader/byte 7) must be "m" for monographic print materials, "s" for serial or "i" for integrating resources.
  4. See the MeLCat Catalog Policies Section 4.3.2 for details for each format.

c. Fields that are highly desired, if available, to help with record matching and retrieval:

  1. Either an ISBN or ISSN, if available.
  2. Remainder of title (245 subfield b)
  3. Title part (245 subfield p)
  4. Title number (245 subfield n)

d. Overall record quality

  1. Records that meet national cataloging standards are strongly preferred. For example, see OCLC cataloging standards found at: new-window-icon.png and OCLC's full, core and minimal cataloging levels at: new-window-icon.png. The Library of Congress Program for Cooperative Cataloging core bibliographic record standards found at: new-window-icon.png with a chart at: new-window-icon.png
  2. When to create separate bibliographic records
    1. In general, follow national guidelines for creating separate bibliographic records for items being cataloged, e.g., OCLC's guidelines for "When to Input a New Record" found at: new-window-icon.png
    2. Catalog each edition of a book on a separate bibliographic record.
  3. Bibliographic and holdings information to exclude from MeLCat
    1. Libraries should not submit bibliographic and holdings records for materials that are not part of their permanent collection, that are on order, etc. See the MeLCat Catalog Policies for details.
    2. Each bibliographic and item record not to be submitted should be coded to prevent it from being extracted for loading into MeLCat.
    3. Innovative libraries should refer to the MeLCat BCODE document posted on the MeL Support Web site.
  4. MeLCat records use the MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data.
    1. Encoding level (Leader Byte 17) should be used to identify the completeness of the record. This code is a key factor MeLCat uses to determine which record is the master record for a title.
    2. Standard material type values should be used for visual materials in Fixed Fields 006 Byte 16 and 008 Byte 33 "Type of Material". Values are available at: new-window-icon.png
    3. Standard GMD's should be used in Field 245 $h. Values are available at: new-window-icon.png

e. Subject headings

  1. Subject headings from national controlled vocabulary systems are preferred, including one or more of the following:
    1. Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH),
    2. National Library of Medicine's Medical Subject Headings (MESH),
    3. Library of Congress Subject Headings for Children's Literature.
  2. Sears subject headings are acceptable; however, they are only retrievable in MeLCat with a keyword search.
  3. Subject headings and call numbers on cataloging records from national cataloging sources should be retained on records contributed to MeLCat, if possible, even if libraries do not use them in their local catalogs.

f. Serials records

  1. MeLCat bibliographic records for serials (continuing resources) must have, as a minimum:
    1. A title field (245 $a)
    2. Type of record (Leader/byte 6)
    3. Imprint (260)
    4. ISSN (022), if available
    5. Bibliographic Level "s" or "i" (Leader Byte 7)
    6. Electronic location and access (856) for electronic serials.
  2. Individual issues of periodicals should not be represented by separate bibliographic records, unless they are cataloged as special monographic issues. Examples include:
    1. title on unacceptable record: Time (December 12, 1999)
    2. title on unacceptable record: Time 1-1-2000
    3. title on acceptable record: Human rights and press freedom in 21st century Latin America. [This is a special issue of the Journal of intergroup relations.]
  3. In general, individual volumes of annuals without unique titles or subjects should be represented on serials records rather than cataloged separately.
  4. Print serials should be cataloged as Type code a and Bibliographic Level s.
  5. Print serials are publications issued in successive parts bearing numerical or chronological designations and intended to be continued indefinitely. Serials include periodicals; newspapers; annuals (reports, yearbooks, etc.); the journals, memoirs, proceedings and transactions of societies; and numbered monographic series. Published items containing collections of works are not serials.

g. Electronic resource records

  1. Libraries have the option of using a single bibliographic record for the print and electronic versions or separate records, following the CONSER cataloging guidelines.
  2. When using a single record by adding to the print record, these fields are highly recommended:
    1. Additional physical form available note (530);
    2. Additional physical form entry (776); and
    3. Electronic location and access (856).
  3. Separate records are preferred for MeLCat and will be used for bibliographic records representing statewide electronic resources.
  4. The ISBN or ISSN of the electronic version should be included, if available.
  5. Libraries must use access-related explanatory text in Field 856 $z, so that users of MeLCat know who is authorized to access the resources. 856 $z is a public note that will display in MeLCat in place of the URL (856 $u). When users click on the $z text, it will use the URL in $u to connect them to the online resource. Examples:
    1. Licensed database with restricted access: 856 $u $z Connect to online resource: (1991 - Current ) - MSU authorized users only
    2. Openly accessible website: 856 $u $z Connect to online resource-All users
  6. Libraries are responsible for regular URL maintenance on their local records, e.g., by running a link checker.
  7. When item or copy-level records are created for electronic resources held only in WWW-accessible form (and for which the URL is in the 856 field in the bib record), libraries should assign a specific code to those item or copy-level records that MeLCat staff can use to control MeLCat display and to prevent requesting.
    1. For example, the items could be coded like equipment or keys, which cannot be requested through MeLCat but can be checked out in the local system. A different code for e-resources would be best for MeLCat.
    2. Innovative sites would use a specific ICODE2 value, e.g., "e", for electronic resource item records.

h. Authority control

Local authority control (name and subject) is highly recommended. The preferred form of names is the current Library of Congress AACR2 or AACR2-compatible form. Places to verify the form of names used include: the OCLC Authority File (for OCLC cataloging libraries) and the Library of Congress Authority Files online at: new-window-icon.png.


II. Holdings Data

a. Required holdings data for MeLCat

  1. Barcode or a unique numeric string for each requestable item. Materials going out on MeLCat loan must be barcoded. The barcodes may be added to the items when they are checked out and sent to the borrowing libraries.
  2. Library or branch building (required for systems with multiple buildings)
  3. Volume designation, if applicable.

b. Highly recommended data for MeLCat

  1. Circulation status of each requestable item
  2. Call number, if available
  3. Shelving location

c. Holdings information must be kept up-to-date.

Recommended frequency of updating varies.

  1. Libraries able to export circulation status should export new and changed records at least daily.
  2. Libraries unable to export circulation status should export new and changed records at least every 2 weeks.


III. Patron Records

a. MeLCat required fields for patron records

  1. Barcode or other unique (on your system) alphanumeric identifier
  2. Name
  3. Expiration date
  4. Patron type
    1. If no patron type is in the record, a default patron type will be used.
    2. Patron types represent groups of patrons with different circulation privileges, e.g., adults and children, students and teachers, or guest borrowers.
  5. Library (required if patron is affiliated with a specific library within a patron file containing records for more than one library)

b. MeLCat highly recommended fields for patron records

  1. Email address, to enable MeLCat notices to be emailed.
  2. Blocking information, e.g., due to fines owed.

c. Optional fields on patron records

  1. Mailing address
  2. Telephone number

d. Updating patron information

Patron information should be kept up-to-date preferably on a daily basis but no less frequently than quarterly.

MeLCat Catalog Policies Committee
November 15, 2004

Revised minimum bib record requirements July 12, 2007