Central Technical Services Participates in Big Ten Academic Alliance Cataloging Partnership

A translation from one language to another graphicLibraries operate on the premise of cooperation and support. Technical services, in particular, embodies this ideal, as evidenced by international union catalogs such as OCLC’s WorldCat and programs like the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC), which contribute catalog records that are created to specific standards that are shared with other libraries, ensuring an efficient, accurate, and timely workflow.

One of the most challenging aspects of cataloging is handling foreign languages, especially when in-house expertise is lacking. Outsourcing materials is costly and a challenge when funding isn’t available. Hiring someone short-term to handle a gift isn’t always feasible or productive. The Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) recently instituted a partnership to solve this problem in a collaborative and cost effective way.

Catalogers from Central Technical Services (CTS) are participating in the BTAA Cataloging Partnership, a collaboration between 12 of the 14 BTAA institutions’ libraries to cooperatively share cataloging expertise for languages and formats. The partnership, coordinated by The University of Chicago, enables participants to leverage expertise across their libraries and is effective for the next two years (July 1, 2016–June 3, 2018).

Here’s a broad overview of how the partnership works and the benefits to Rutgers:

Step One – take inventory, create a work plan

The first step was to conduct an inventory of language expertise and needs, plus format expertise and needs. A spreadsheet with this information was compiled that includes a proposed work plan that details which institutions will handle what work. Rutgers will contribute expertise in Hungarian, Polish, and Hindi, as well as music scores.

A photo of books packaged for translation.

Source: https://sites.psu.edu/librarynews/2016/08/01/big-ten-academic-alliance-cataloging-partnership-formed/

Step Two – develop a work flow

Materials cataloged for the partnership are sent via the BTAA’s Uborrow interlibrary loan program to hold down costs. All resources are marked by a purple band that stays on them until they are cataloged and returned to the owning institution. Cataloging can be done either using Resource Description and Access (RDA), the prevailing cataloging standard, or AACR2 (RDA’s predecessor). Materials will receive copy cataloging or original cataloging treatment, and all work is done using OCLC’s Connexion cataloging client. Catalogers will follow the BIBCO* Standard Record (BSR), which emphasizes access points over description. Participating libraries are required to commit to a minimum of ten hours of cataloging per month (ten hours per institution, not ten hours per cataloger).

Step Three – stay in touch and assess

A discussion list has been established for the heads of technical services at each participating institution, and there is a monthly conference call to discuss progress, concerns, etc. Statistics are submitted online monthly via a Google documents form and include language, format, number of titles cataloged (titles, not volumes, are counted), and any anomalies encountered while cataloging.


Thanks to this collaborative program, we will be able to catalog dozens of foreign language publications, exposing these valuable resources and making them discoverable. We have already sent Persian and Hebrew books to Maryland, Belarussian books to Northwestern, and Greek books to the University of Minnesota. Michigan will catalog 130 Arabic books and 72 serials for Rutgers later in 2016.

We are also providing cataloging for many of our peer libraries. To date, Rutgers is cataloging 32 music scores for the University of Chicago and 25 Hungarian books from the University of Illinois. Rutgers will also receive 100 Polish books to catalog from Michigan and Hindi books from Northwestern.

Roman Frackowski, Bela Gupta, Julianna (Kati) Ritter, and Catherine Sauceda are providing cataloging for Rutgers and Mary Beth Weber is Rutgers’ point person for the partnership. If you have questions about this program or the materials that are being processed, please contact Mary Beth.


*BIBCO is a program within the PCC that contributes high quality bibliographic records for books.


Mary Beth Weber