Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

E-Book Cataloging Workflows at Oregon State University

Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

E-Book Cataloging Workflows at Oregon State University

Article excerpt

Among the many issues associated with integrating e-books into library collections and services, the revision of existing workflows in cataloging units has received little attention. The experience designing new workflows for e-books at Oregon State University Libraries since 2008 is described in detail from the perspective of three different sources of e-books. These descriptions highlight where the workflows applied to each vendors stream differ. A workflow was developed for each vendor, based on the quality and source of available bibliographic records and the staff member performing the task. Involving cataloging staff as early as possible in the process of purchasing e-books from a new vendor ensures that a suitable workflow can be designed and implemented as soon as possible. This ensures that the representation of e-books in the library catalog is not delayed, increasing the likelihood that users will readily find and use these resources that the library has purchased.


The increase in the availability of e-books in the past decade has transformed how our society communicates information. As publishers transition from print to electronic, or at least provide their publications in both print and digital form, readers are changing their preferred reading formats. (1) E-books have affected the academy as well. Many university bookstores now sell e-textbook access to students while some universities have experimented with using textbooks on e-readers. (2)

Academic libraries have been affected as well, with 95 percent of American university libraries purchasing e-books. (3) Both scholarly and popular titles are increasingly available from a variety of publishers and e-book vendors. Internet-based e-books have the advantages of being accessible anywhere, require no shelf space, never need mending, and have features that are not available with print, such as keyword searching of text. They also have disadvantages when compared to print, including greater management for licensing and technological requirements, as well as restrictions on printing, interlibrary loan, course reserves, and the number of simultaneous users.

Libraries are making e-books accessible to their users via online public access catalogs (OPACs) and, for monographic series, indirectly through library websites, often referred to as "A to Z lists." (A third, future possibility for user discovery of e-books would involve the selection of e-book titles from a knowledge base and subsequent reliance on a discovery service to index the e-books.) OPAC access integrates e-books with a library's other resources, providing an advantage over website access as users can retrieve metadata on both electronic and print resources with one search. Research has shown that loading bibliographic records for e-books into the OPAC increases their discovery and use. (4) To facilitate cataloging and promote the use of their e-books, many vendors and publishers provide MARC bibliographic records for their titles. This is an especially useful service because many publishers sell their e-books in packages containing hundreds or even thousands of titles; cataloging such sets title-by-title is beyond the capacity of many cataloging departments. However, the poor quality of vendor records is often a concern; alternate sources can provide high-quality bibliographic records for e-books.

To catalog e-books efficiently, traditional technical services workflows for print materials need to be modified. A major difference from print is that no physical piece arrives at the library to trigger the processing of an e-book. Without boxes to open, barcodes and call number labels to apply, or security strips to insert, e-books "arrive" ready to catalog as soon as a cataloging unit has been notified that an e-book has been purchased. For e-books, the principal tasks for technical services staff include licensing and purchasing, downloading bibliographic records, and, often, batch editing of those records. …

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