The University of Texas at Austin

Quickly clear out cataloging backlogs

A photo of a student in The University of Texas at Austin library

"We were able to clear almost the entire backlog, making incoming materials much easier to manage without a large backlog looming."

Mandy Lancaster
Cataloging Outsourcing Coordinator, Technical Services Division,
The University of Texas at Austin

The library at The University of Texas at Austin serves all 10 on-campus libraries and two off-campus special libraries—the Marine Science Library and The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The library staff was struggling to keep up with cataloging material in languages with non-Latin characters. As non-English items continued to come in, Mandy Lancaster, Cataloging Outsourcing Coordinator in the Technical Services Division, explained, "we found ourselves with a large backlog of non-Roman language materials."

"Lacking an in-house specialist, we turned to OCLC Contract Cataloging," Mandy said. "We have had an ongoing outsourcing contract [for cataloging] with OCLC for the past 20 years," so it was simple to rewrite the existing contract to handle this short-term backlog of foreign language materials.

"Like many other libraries, we are losing many of our catalogers for specific foreign languages."

"We sent OCLC books, compact discs and DVDs," Mandy explained, as well as microfilm and serials in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish and Western European languages. "We worked closely with the language specialist at OCLC to iron out the appropriate approach to these materials," she continued. "After a short time, a flow of cataloged and labeled material headed back to us."

Mandy shared some advice for others using OCLC Contract Cataloging for the first time. She recommended that the library staff members have a very clear idea of what they want at the outset, including any local practices that they'd like the OCLC staff to adhere to. She also recommended carefully reviewing material before sending it to OCLC. "Fragile material should never be sent, but neither should something that will be weeded from your collection," she said.

OCLC has cataloged more than 3,500 titles between its two projects with the library at The University of Texas at Austin within the last year. Having this backlog out of the way has made it easier for library staff to keep up with the materials that continue to roll in, ensuring that they make it into the catalog and onto the shelves for users to discover as quickly as possible.

Services used by The University of Texas at Austin

Contract Cataloging

OCLC Cataloging and Metadata Subscription

Map showing location of The University of Texas at Austin

Library at a glance

  • The library system at the University of Texas at Austin includes 10 on-campus libraries
  • Topic-specific collections include human rights, engineering, geology, marine science and fine arts
  • The main library, Perry-Castañeda Library, is named after Professor Ervin S. Perry, the University's first African-American professor, and Professor Carlos E. Castañeda, who helped develop the Benson Latin American Collection
  • Perry-Castañeda Library, built in 1974, is 6 levels and 500,673 square feet with 70 miles of book stacks and 9.3 acres of carpet

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