Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

Quality Issues in Vendor-Provided E-Monograph Records

Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

Quality Issues in Vendor-Provided E-Monograph Records

Article excerpt

As e-book batchloading workloads have increased, the quality of vendor-provided MARC records has emerged as a major concern for libraries. This paper discusses a study of record quality in e-monograph record sets undertaken at the University of Minnesota with the goal of improving and increasing the efficiency of preload editing processes. Through the systematic analysis of eighty-nine record sets from nineteen different providers, librarians identified the most common errors and the likely effect on access. They found that while some error types were very common, specific errors are often unique and complex, making devising a set of broadly applicable strategies to correct them difficult. Based on these results, the author identifies future challenges for maintaining quality in batchloaded record sets and suggests several possible directions for improving record quality.


As libraries expand their electronic collections, many find that the most effective and practical means of providing catalog access to these collections is through batchloading MARC records provided by vendors or publishers into local catalogs. As batchloading becomes more common and libraries share their experiences, certain themes and focuses of discussion have emerged. One is the challenge of incorporating batchloading into existing technical services and systems workflows. Another is navigating the mechanics of record editing and loading processes. A third strand running throughout the batchloading literature is the issue of record quality. General discussions of the topic usually include a least a brief discussion of concerns about record quality, and most case studies of batchloading projects identify multiple quality issues found and addressed as part of the project.

At the University of Minnesota Libraries (UML), experiences have been much the same as those at other institutions. Librarians learned how to manipulate MARC records in batch and determined how to train staff and design workflows to accommodate batchloading. However, poor record quality continued to trouble catalog and authority control librarians. Years of providing feedback on record quality to vendors had yielded mostly discouraging results. Although librarians had largely mastered the processes for correcting certain kinds of critical problems, dramatic increases in batchloading work indicated a strong need to develop more efficient and systematic batch editing processes. To that end, technical services managers charged a small group of two catalogers and one systems librarian to identify the most common issues, their prevalence, and their effect on access, with the goal of creating a streamlined set of local guidelines for batch editing MARC records for e-resources. Managers wished to understand which areas of the record required careful checking and which data could be safely assumed acceptable most of the time. Catalogers also wished to identify and track problems that were uncorrectable at the point of initial editing and loading but which were candidates for later maintenance, update, or enhancement. To address those questions, catalogers initiated a systematic study of record quality in vendor-provided e-resource records. This paper describes how catalogers analyzed record sets, and it outlines the results of their analysis, describing in detail many of the errors they discovered. The paper also discusses how the study's findings affected batchloading workflows at UML. The author enumerates several challenges to maintaining quality in batchloaded records and anticipates future challenges and opportunities to arise from evolving cataloging standards and library discovery tools.

Literature Review

Record quality is a frequent topic in the literature on e-books and the batchloading of e-book record sets. Wu and Mitchell provided a detailed overview of issues surrounding mass management of e-book records. (1) One major quality issue they discussed at length is the inconsistent use of identifiers, particularly in the context of the provider-neutral record. …

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