There are days when being a Tech Services Librarian has less to do with working the Reference or Circulation desks, and more with being a mechanic. This is one of those days.
We’re in the middle of implementing Serials Solutions’ Summon discovery service, which they describe as “a digital front door to the library’s resources.”
One of the road blocks to making this happen however, is the state of our MARC holdings. The records were not in great shape when I got here in 2007. Some of the cataloging was done in brief records by paraprofessionals who were not trained as catalogers. So a certain portion of our collection is composed of fragmentary records. This is not a problem as far as it goes. Fragmentary records are expanded or replaced whenever I find them. The problem with fragmentary data is the lack of discovery by our patrons, since those records lack some vital access points fully developed records include.
Additionally, our ILS creates new records on demand and populates each one with a randomly generated OCM number in the 001 field. Again, not a problem per se except that I’d originally intended for the 001 field to be utilized by Summon to identify our records. Having spoken to the implementation professionals at Serials Solutions, I’ve learned that is not going to happen.
So, new plan: populate each of our 125,000 or so MARC records with an OCLC control number to live in the 035 field. This would require a Batch Reclamation Project where we’d upload our records to the wizards at OCLC. They’d make the changes, ask if there are any records we’d like remove from their holdings, then send them back to us to swap into our ILS. The good news is that because it’s a one-time deal and we’ve never pursued this type of project before, they’d do it for us for free. (An ongoing project would cost us some money.)
The bad news is that I have a day to learn about batch reclamation projects.
That means paging through the OCLC Batch Services User Guide to absorb whatever I can and apply it to this particular project. Besides that, I’ve already taken a hard look at documents describing the ins and outs of OCLC control numbers, and the Order Checklist for Bibliographic Batchloads. It’s both dull and fascinating, but I have to think like a digital mechanic to make it work.