Onondaga County Public Libraries

Get time back to focus on priorities

Photo of Onondaga County Public Library staff
OCPL Local History/Genealogy Department staff receiving a donation from the Central New York Chapter of the Irish American Cultural Institute of DVDs with nine years of the locally produced television show "Irish Connection"

"We are totally dependent on our high match rate for cataloging records in WorldCat. If we had to do original cataloging for even a fraction of our new materials, we'd have no time to devote to the local projects that, frankly, have a much higher value in the long run."

Deb Lewis
Administrator for Systems and Member Services (retired), Onondaga County Public Libraries

You might think that lake reclamation, Salt City Bank and indie rock band Scarlet Ending have nothing in common. But they're all subjects with roots in Central New York that can be discovered around the world thanks to the local cataloging efforts of the Onondaga County Public Libraries.

Deb Lewis, Administrator for Systems and Member Services (retired), has great enthusiasm for materials related to unique, local stories like these. "From library to library, there's a lot of overlap when it comes to popular materials," she explained. "But nobody else in the world will ever catalog the public documents related to the clean-up of Onondaga Lake, newsletters of local Syracuse organizations or recordings of local bands."

"Because clerical staff can do most of the steps for requesting WorldCat records, our two remaining cataloging staff can concentrate on getting unique items into WorldCat."

While cataloging unique items has always been important, she pointed out that even as expectations of library users to find everything on the Web have grown, staff has shrunk. How do they cope? By relying on the "collective collection" of WorldCat® and shifting many routine cataloging workflows to clerical staff.

The high hit rate for copy cataloging records in WorldCat is a key part of the value Deb ascribes to her OCLC Cataloging and Metadata Subscription. "We can have clerical staff search WorldCat and request records to be imported into our catalog and then perform quality checking when needed," she said. "The service is flexible, and that lets us work in ways that make sense for us."

Deb also appreciates that with the WorldCat Cataloging Partners service (now known as WorldCat cataloging partner collections in WorldShare Collection Manager), she gets OCLC-MARC records for materials ordered through participating vendors with holdings automatically set in WorldCat. "That gets many materials out on our shelves much more quickly and with little effort on our part."

But it's working on the "neat stuff" that really excites her. "The documents related to the Onondaga Lake reclamation project," she explained, "are incredibly important. Not just for the sake of local government transparency, but because they will be important to other, similar projects all over the world."

Map showing location of Onondaga County Public Library

Library at a glance

  • Formed in 1976 from a merger of Onondaga Library System and the Syracuse Public Library
  • Nineteen member libraries with eight branches
  • Circulated more than 900,000 titles during more than 800,000 visits in 2015

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