Contract Cataloging™

Frequently asked questions

General questions

Do I need to be a member to use OCLC Contract Cataloging services?

Membership is not required. However, if your library does not have an OCLC Cataloging subscription, Contract Cataloging can catalog and deliver records for you, but we cannot set your holdings in WorldCat.

Do I need to send the actual items to OCLC, or can cataloging be performed using surrogates?

We prefer working with the actual item, but we can usually catalog using scanned images or photocopies for print materials, provided the physical description (pages/leaves/volumes, illustrations and dimensions) and holdings information are supplied. Surrogates do not work well for all formats or all languages, but they are fine for most print formats, with the exception of maps.

What if I need to change the project requirements after the project has started?

No problem. You can extend the initial contract or change the specifications simply by signing an extension letter that carries forward the original terms and conditions of the contract, but changes the cataloging specifications. Depending on the extent of the changes, you may receive price or scheduling adjustments.

Can I have my materials vendor ship directly to OCLC for cataloging?

Yes, several libraries have this arrangement with their vendors and it works very well. We check the actual items that are shipped against the packing list and notify you if there is a discrepancy.


How is a project scheduled?

Upon receiving your library's approval for a project, we schedule the project at the first available opening with a production team. We usually can provide a schedule within a few days of approval.

What is your turnaround time?

For most projects, turnaround time is approximately four weeks for print materials and six weeks for non-print materials, depending on the volume of materials you send to us and the relative difficulty of the cataloging to be performed.


Will my materials be safe while they're at OCLC for cataloging?

Yes. Protecting your materials is our first priority. We maintain secure facilities in order to ensure the safekeeping of all your materials while they are here at OCLC. Additionally, for rare and/or valuable material, we lock the materials in storage cabinets within secured rooms.

Who pays for shipping?

Your library pays to ship materials to OCLC and we pay to return the materials to you upon completion of the cataloging. We ship via commercial carriers and recommend that you do the same.


Is my OCLC holdings symbol added to the records that OCLC catalogs for me?

If your library has an OCLC Cataloging subscription, we will attach your holdings symbol to records cataloged for a Contract Cataloging project. If your library does not have an OCLC Cataloging subscription, we will catalog and deliver records, but we will not attach your holdings symbol to the records.

Do you take on projects that consist only of original cataloging?

Yes, we supply only original cataloging for a number of libraries. We can also do only copy cataloging, and flag and return items that require original cataloging.

Can Contract Cataloging also do physical processing?

Yes. Many libraries that send us photocopies ask us to print labels and paperclip them to the individual photocopy. Libraries that send the actual items frequently ask us to print labels as well as put them on the item. We can also attach clear label covers, plus security strips and barcode labels that you supply.


How does Contract Cataloging deliver the records back to my library?

We can deliver records via FTP (File Transfer Protocol).

OCLC Contract Cataloging services offer expert assistance to tackle your difficult cataloging projects, including those requiring specialized format-specific skills and language proficiencies. Our skilled, professional catalogers can meet your high standards and help get your items into the hands of users quickly.

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