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Technical Services: Guidelines

This guide provides information about the Technical Services Department of the University Library.


Mission Statement

The mission of the Technical Services staff is to provide catalog records that adequately describe each item in the library’s collection and to supply multiple access points for each to enable all users to locate the resources that best fit their needs, regardless of their varied searching styles or the informational product’s format.

Texas A&M University – Central Texas

A&M-Central Texas is currently the academic home of over 2,500 students, and offers a variety of programs tailored to the nontraditional student. Our students encompass active and retired military, those holding down part-time and full-time employment, and those who are full-time parents and caregivers. As such, our students display a wide range of ages and backgrounds. Therefore, flexibility and availability of library resources are important requirements.  In addition to students, the library provides for the informational needs of the faculty, staff and community users. Thus, a variety of formats and informational levels are necessary to fulfill this goal.

Technical Services Guidelines

A&M-CENTRAL TEXAS Library Technical Services Department

Technical Services begins at the point that an informational product is requested for purchase by the library. The material is ordered, received, cataloged, processed, and made available to users via the library’s online catalog and the library webpage. In addition to the cataloging of new and older materials, Technical Service continuously evaluates the online catalog for accuracy and uniformity. Overall, the department strives to have a very short turnaround time between an item’s receipt and its availability to library users.

The department consists of a Technical Services Coordinator, a Cataloging and Acquisitions Librarian, a Technical Services Specialist, a part-time Cataloging Librarian and part-time clerks.  Clerks receive and process new materials.  The Technical Services Coordinator will organize a Technical Services Committee to guide the department and make decisions when necessary.

Cataloging Standards

The department will follow accepted standards and practices for technical services that are recognized in current library education and practiced by most libraries in the United States. Cataloging procedures will follow those standards established in Resource Description and Access (RDA) and as practiced by the Library of Congress whenever possible. Particular practices may be adjusted locally for compatibility with the library’s automated library system.

Bibliographic Records

The basic component of cataloging library materials is the bibliographic record. This component provides the necessary description and access points for locating materials in an efficient matter.

Sources of records

OCLC.  Staff performs level 2 cataloging, primarily by means of copy-cataloging whenever possible.  These records are taken from the bibliographical cooperative, OCLC. When downloading records, those records denoting the DLC code are given preference. The accuracy of these records has been deemed acceptable by the Library of Congress and often requires no further augmentation prior to the library’s use. However, there are times that records require enhancements such as content notes and additional subject headings. Catalogers perform this function as necessary. Additional modifications might be performed to edit the record to meet local standards.

Original Records. There are times when a bibliographic record for the exact item in hand cannot be located through OCLC. At those times, catalogers perform original cataloging to create a complete and accurate record for the item. Consequently, this method is more time consuming and exacting and is not performed by those personnel who are only assigned copy cataloging duties.

Level of description

Every attempt is made to ensure that bibliographic records conform to a 2nd level cataloging standard. This level includes Library of Congress authority tracings for authors, joint authors, illustrators, translators, corporate bodies, and subject headings. All publishing information is listed along with physical attributes of the item. Indexes and bibliographies are noted, if present.

Subject headings

The library utilizes Library of Congress Subject Headings for uniform subject access. This thesaurus of controlled headings is available by visiting the Library of Congress website or via the library’s subscription to the online resource, Classification Web. Whenever possible subdivisions are utilized in order to more specifically describe the subject matter at hand. In addition, the cataloger should evaluate the subject headings provided on the record and determine if additional headings are needed to better assist the user in locating materials.

Classification system

The library uses the Library of Congress classification system in creating call numbers for shelving purpose. DLC records usually include a suggested class number for use with the item. In some cases, the cataloger will need to consult other sources such as Classification Web or Evergreen for a class number. In addition to the LC classification, the library uses the LC cutter table to devise a cutter number. After the cutter number, the item’s date of publication is added. The library strives to ensure that no two items have the exact same call number. To this effect, letters might be placed after the year (i.e. 1998b) and copy numbers are placed after the date if the item is a second or third copy. In addition, call numbers are modified for readability. Spaces are inserted and decimals are removed from cutter numbers to create a clean, easy-to-read look.

Stand-alone title or part of a series

The decision whether to catalog an item as a single title or as part of a series depends upon whether the title will best function as a stand-alone title or as part of series. Often the cataloger will find records for both purposes. He or she will judge the needs of the targeted user to determine the best type of record to use. When items are cataloged as stand-alone titles, series statements are added. Although these tracings are no longer regulated by the Library of Congress, they are still a helpful access point.

Serials, periodicals, and ebooks

While many of the library’s items are monographic titles, serials, periodicals and ebooks are important resources that require variations in cataloging protocol. A serial requires one bibliographic record with an item record for each volume. A periodical requires a bibliographic record for each publication title. The bibliographic record should include notations as to the library’s holdings but will not include item records.  Ebook bibliographic records will closely resemble the bibliographic record for the print item, but will include a link to direct the user to the electronic version of the book.

Authority control

During the cataloging process, catalogers use the validate function in OCLC to validate author and subject headings. Thus, incorrect or incomplete headings can be corrected before the bibliographic record is imported into Evergreen.  The Technical Services Coordinator will monitor any changes by the Library of Congress to authority records and make the appropriate changes in automation system. In addition, the library should periodically conduct an authority control project to ensure that headings already being used are valid and accurate.

Review of Cataloging Standards, Guidelines and Procedures

Each August, the Library Technical Services Committee will fully investigate and review any possible changes in bibliographic cataloging standards. The group will decide, if and when, the library will modify their cataloging practices to meet the new standards. If the decision is made to follow new standards, additional decisions need to be made for the implementation of the new standards that also include a timeline for the modification of the bibliographic records already in the catalog. In addition, the group will review all Technical Services Guidelines and Procedures and make modifications at this time. 

Technical Services Coordinator

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Lisa Hopkins
Phone number: 254-519-5755
Office: Warrior Hall Room 205-D