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OCLC Expert Cataloging Community Sharing Session minutes, June 2019

Minutes of the OCLC Expert Cataloging Community Sharing Session
ALA Annual Conference
Friday, 2019 June 21
10:30 a.m.-12:00 noon
Washington, D.C.


The ALA Annual 2019 Edition of Breaking Through: What’s New and Next from OCLC and the compilation of News From OCLC were distributed. The following items were highlighted:

  • OCLC Products and Services Release Notes: Find the most current release notes for many OCLC products and services as well as links to data updates and to dynamic collection lists at
  • OCLC-MARC Update and WorldCat Validation, May 2019: During May 2019 OCLC installed changes to WorldCat validation, including the OCLC-MARC Update 2019, Part One. Details of the OCLC-MARC Update are available in OCLC Technical Bulletin 269: OCLC-MARC Format Update 2019 available at This update implements the MARC 21 Bibliographic and Holdings format changes announced in MARC 21 Update No. 27 (November 2018): The “Part One” in the title indicates that a second such update is planned for later this year to implement MARC 21 Update No. 28 (May 2019).
  • OCLC Publishes List of Top 100 Novels: Data in WorldCat shows that the novel most widely held by libraries worldwide is Cervantes’ Don Quixote, followed by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
  • OCLC Transfers Question/Point, Subscriptions to Springshare Platform:  OCLC and Springshare have signed an agreement to transfer the QuestionPoint 24/7 Reference Cooperative and all the active QuestionPoint subscriptions to Springshare. Springshare is the leader in library reference software and Question/Point is the global leader in cooperative virtual reference services. Springshare’s LibAnswers will now include QuestionPoint, whose reference librarians will become a part of Springshare, who will in turn hire more librarians and provide training, including free training for QuestionPoint subscribers.
  • The Virtual AskQC Office Hours ( session is skipping July but will be back in August. We are always happy to entertain suggestions for future Office Hour topics. Please submit your ideas to
  • The problem with the transfer of garbage non-Latin fields from record to record which had been spreading throughout WorldCat has been resolved.
  • The Member Merge Project continues but needs more reviewers. We are urged to apply at
Shanna Griffith, Database Specialist II, WorldCat Quality: Report on Bibliographic Formats and Standards.
  • Bibliographic Formats and Standards is the document that explains how MARC 21 is applied in WorldCat. OCLC began in 2013 to revise and update BFAS on an ongoing basis and has been making major revisions, including keeping up with all the new RDA-related MARC fields, adding RDA examples, and incorporating information from the OCLC Technical Bulletins. Information on local data and on parallel records has been added. A major revision of Chapter 2 is nearly completed. Members are encouraged to contribute by reporting errors and suggesting examples.
Cynthia Whitacre, Senior Metadata Operations Manager, Metadata Quality: OCLC Trivia Quiz
  • Winners in this quiz were awarded buttons reading: “Cataloging is a public service.”
    • Q: What year was OCLC founded?
      • A: 1967.
    • Q: When was the first WorldCat record created?
      • A: 1971.
    • Q: Which institution created the first WorldCat record?
      • A: Ohio University.
    • Q: What is the 588 field?
      • A: Source of description note.
    • Q: Jay Weitz's anniversary at OCLC is June 28. How many years has he worked there?
      • A: 37.
Questions and Answers
If we load into WorldCat old thesis records with nonstandard fields, including unsubfielded 502 fields, will they be automatically corrected?

Our QC macro deals with field 502, so they may be updated as they are encountered.

Why is the dollar sign ( $ ) used for the subfield delimiter when it is used for other things and so can create confusion?

In the Connexion client the subfield delimiter displays as a double dagger ( ǂ ). In other OCLC cataloging interfaces, including Record Manager, the subfield delimiter displays as a dollar sign. In the Connexion browser, a single dollar sign is used as a subfield delimiter in edit mode; the double dagger appears in display mode. Why the double dagger was originally chosen is lost in the mists of time. But remember that the MARC formats were developed in the 1960s and what is now WorldCat came “online” in 1971, when the word “online” didn’t mean quite what it means today. Back then, there was much less of the sorts of standardization we take for granted now.  Unicode, for instance, was not even envisioned until around 1986 and took until 1990 to fully draft, with the Unicode Consortium formally coming into being in 1991. Neither the double-dagger, which is used in some African languages, nor the dollar sign, is confusion-free. Almost any chosen character would have had, or could have developed, conflicts and problems. Given that MARC was created as a pioneering effort over fifty years ago, it’s astonishing that it still serves us as well as it does.

Why can certain Cyrillic characters not be used in the name authority file?

That would be a question for the Library of Congress, which is responsible for what is valid in its authority records.

Are there plans to automate such simple attributes of MARC as the skip (nonfiling) character in validation? It's fairly straightforward to automatically detect articles.

There are currently no plans to do that.  In validation, there's no fuzziness.  It's either right or wrong, but not every “a” is an article. There are cases even in English, let alone other languages, where you wouldn't want to skip a word or character that may look like an initial article to an automated process, but really doesn’t function that way in a particular context: “A, my name is Alice;" the German articles related to "ein" are not always "a" but sometimes mean "one;" “thé” in French versus “the” in English; place names such as “Los Angeles,” “Las Vegas,” “Des Moines.” It’s really much more complex than it may first appear. As far as searching is concerned, the Searching WorldCat Indexes chapter Searching WorldCat Indexes Guidelines and Requirements has sections on “Initial Articles” and “Stop Words,” which offer full details on what to do in what kinds of searches, which may differ by interface. The “Derived Searches” section also includes a list of “Stopwords for derived name searches.” The general guideline is as follows: “Stop words (also called Common word exclusions) are common words that the system ignores in some types of searches. You can omit them from search items. To use any of these words as search terms, enclose them in quotation marks.”

Any update on the Connexion client end-of-life?

There is still no end-of-life date for Connexion, and we promise we will give you plenty of warning if such a date is ever determined. In the meantime, the ever-evolving Record Manager is available for those who want to become familiar with it. Please seriously consider helping to shape the future of Record Manager as part of the Record Manager Advisory Group by sending your concerns and interest to Don’t forget about the OCLC Community Center (, which has a whole area devoted to Metadata Services, including Record Manager.

Can more be done to provide macros for transliterating non-Roman characters and producing non-Latin characters from transliteration?

There are already macros available that can be used in Connexion to transliterate non-Latin characters and some that can translate from Latin to non-Latin characters when there is a one-to-one correspondence, as with Cyrillic characters. For some languages, however, a reverse functionality may not be possible.  Check out the “Macros” section of the “Connexion Client Documentation” page at, particularly Joel Hahn’s page at

Isn’t the new PCC punctuation guideline just going to cause more confusion and inconsistencies in the database?

The new PCC instructions ( are optional. You needn’t use them if you don’t want to. But you should know that most catalogs already have a wide variety of punctuation practices from records created according to various sets of cataloging instructions. Some countries, such as Germany, have already eliminated punctuation from their records. The new PCC instructions won’t really result in that much more punctuation diversity than you already see in WorldCat. OCLC is considering the creation of macros that will allow you to more easily apply your own choices regarding punctuation.

Why has there been an uptick in uncontrolled access points? I see access points that I know I controlled when I created the record that are no longer controlled in OCLC.

This was OCLC's problem but it has now been resolved.

What is happening with the new Encoding Levels OCLC is working on to bring their Encoding Levels in line with standard MARC?

Although we have no implementation date at this point, OCLC intends to move toward eliminating the OCLC-defined alphabetic Encoding Levels in favor of the codes defined in MARC 21 proper. In late 2018, OCLC invited members of the cooperative to participate in focus groups to discuss Encoding Levels. The response was so enthusiastic that we ended up have four focus group conference calls during December 2018: one each for public, academic, ARL, and special libraries. There were 27 participants from 24 different institutions, all together. The ideas we gathered were most enlightening and they are directing how we deal with the issue. The transition will involve the conversion of the OCLC Encoding Levels into the MARC-proper codes using record fullness algorithms we have really just begun to develop. We will also be developing some sort of marker to indicate when a record was loaded into WorldCat via a batch process. We fully realize that the OCLC-defined Encoding Levels represent a long tradition that is built into the practices and workflows of some members of the cooperative. So we will give you plenty of notice before we start making any changes in WorldCat so that those changes may be implemented as smoothly and with as little disruption as can be managed.

If there are several authors with the same name, how can I tell if the record in the NAF is for the author of the resource I am cataloging and the one I should control to?

Generally you can tell which one is represented by the record in the authority file by displaying the full record and looking for information in such fields as 372 (, 374 (, and 670 ( regarding the field of activity, occupation, titles of works, and other data about the person. Check the dates of publication of the work at hand and the works attributed to the person in the context of the person’s dates to see if they make sense. Using the Authority Record Number (ARN) of the person’s name, you can do a bibliographic “ar:” search, which will retrieve all bibliographic records in which the name is controlled to that authority record. Add “not” in front of the search plus a “pn:” search of the name itself and you will retrieve bibliographic records in which the name is not controlled to that authority record. We’re in the process of documenting this index.

Is OCLC going to do something with ORCID IDs?

As we expand the use of subfields $0 and $1, you are able to include them in records. If the access point is controlled to the LC/NACO Authority File, the subfield $0 will be stripped, although any subfield $1 would remain in the field. For English language-of-cataloging records, we control to the LC/NACO NAF.  ISNIs and ORCIDs may also be found in authority records.

Is there a way to strip out the subject headings that have been appearing in many records lately with the Second Indicator “4” when the record already has the exact same headings properly tagged as LC subject headings?

This is being worked on and there should be less of it over time.

Respectfully submitted by
Doris Seely
University of Minnesota
2019 June 27

With contributions and edits from Amanda Brennan, Cynthia Whitacre, Bryan Baldus, Robert Bremer, and Jay Weitz.

2019 July 17