Contract Cataloging frequently asked questions

Show all answers  /  Print

General questions

In what situations do libraries use OCLC Contract Cataloging services?

Libraries use Contract Cataloging in many ways, including short-term projects and ongoing cataloging support. We provide cataloging for English and non-English language materials and book and nonbook formats including DVDs, CDs, maps, musical scores, electronic resources and more. We help you keep up with current acquisitions, eliminate backlogs, and catalog gift collections and special projects.

How long has OCLC been cataloging for libraries?

We have been cataloging for libraries for more than 25 years. The service formerly known as TechPro, was started in 1985 when libraries asked for help with their current cataloging. Now known as OCLC Contract Cataloging, we focus on providing cataloging services that control costs and make library materials accessible to users.

What are the qualifications of the Contract Cataloging staff?

Our staff includes both professional catalogers and highly trained paraprofessionals. They have varied experience at libraries and at OCLC cataloging subjects such as music, medicine, business and technology, environmental science and computer science. We also have language experts and translators to supplement our team.

Where is your staff located?

Our primary operation is in Dublin, Ohio, at OCLC's world headquarters. In Canada, we provide cataloging services through OCLC LTS Library Technical Services, located in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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.

With whom will I work?

We will assign a project manager to be your library's liaison. This person works closely with the cataloging teams and serves as your point-of-contact for all project-related issues, including cataloging, billing, and shipping. When questions arise, the project manager consults with the designated technical liaison at your library.

What quality control measures does Contract Cataloging use?

When a new project begins, we offer to deliver a test batch to your library for review. This review period allows you to determine that your requirements are being followed and the quality of the cataloging meets your standards.

Is there a minimum project size?

Yes, we require a minimum of 200 unique titles annually and 25 or more titles per shipment (the 25 per shipment minimum will be waived if titles are shipped directly from a vendor).

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.

Does OCLC catalog in all formats and all languages?

We catalog in all formats and in more than 30 languages. Our staff has in-depth cataloging experience with scores, sound recordings, visual materials, maps, serials, electronic resources, computer files, and books. We work with many non-Latin alphabet languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Greek, and Hindi. Please contact us if you have a collection of non-English language materials, and we will let you know if we can catalog them for you.

Is there a contract for Contract Cataloging services?

Yes. A contract and a customized work statement are prepared for each project. We prepare the work statement after you have received a cost proposal from us and have committed to having OCLC do the cataloging. Once your library and OCLC have both signed the agreement, we can begin work on your project.

Can the contract be set up so that Contract Cataloging first eliminates my backlog, and then works on my ongoing cataloging?

Yes, contracts can be short-term or long-term, depending on your library's needs and requirements.

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 you give me the names of some other libraries that have used Contract Cataloging so that I can learn what their experience has been with the service?

We can supply contact information for similar projects, upon request.

I'd like to visit Contract Cataloging and see your operation. Can this be arranged?

Yes! We'd be delighted to have you visit. We're happy to give tours of the unit and to have you meet the staff members and ask them questions.

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 pricing determined?

We ask that you complete a Request for Cost Proposal. We then determine a price based on type and format of materials, amount and type of editing and local data to be added to records, and languages to be included in the project. Prices are quoted on a per-item-cataloged basis and physical processing is priced separately.

Please e-mail for a copy of the Request for Cost Proposal form.

How do I request a cost proposal?

We provide cost proposals free of charge, at no obligation. To request a cost proposal, you first need to complete and submit a " Request for Cost Proposal" form. Please e-mail for a copy of the form.


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.

How can you be sure that the call numbers assigned by Contract Cataloging will not conflict with existing call numbers in my shelflist?

We offer various options for assigning unique call numbers. For example, we can add a workmark (x), or assign only the class number and you can assign the Cutter locally. Or, instead of worrying about duplicate call numbers up front, you can re-Cutter any that conflict after the items are returned to you. Some libraries have decided not to worry about shelflisting anymore, but instead use the barcode number as the unique identifier. If you are concerned about this aspect of contract cataloging, we encourage you to talk with us about available options.

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.

Does Contract Cataloging automatically check headings in the authority file when cataloging? Can Contract Cataloging create authority records for my library?

We automatically check the authority file for all headings when doing original cataloging. We also can check the authority file for all headings for copy cataloging if you desire. Contract Cataloging is independent in NACO contribution for all personal and corporate names.


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

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

Can OCLC load the records directly into my library's local system?

No. We can provide OCLC-MARC records in the standard MARC communications format, using the delivery options mentioned above, and then you will need to load the records into your local system. If you need assistance, contact your local system vendor. Your local system vendor can also help answer questions about placement of local information such as barcode number, copy/volume number, call number, etc., so that it displays correctly.

How will my library be billed for Contract Cataloging services?

Your library will be billed monthly for all cataloging completed the previous month. Billing can be done through your OCLC billing partner or it can be handled directly from OCLC. You are welcome to put money on deposit with your billing partner or with OCLC.