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Cataloging Policy

I created a cataloging policy appropriate for a school library media center as part of an advanced cataloging class.  While I did not fully appreciate this assignment during the course, I swiftly became grateful for it, as I was asked both at work and in my practicum to assist in developing policy for school and community libraries.

Cataloging Policy Manual

O Intermediate School

S Local School District, P County, Ohio


I.                   Overview

a.       School Description:

O Intermediate School is one of two middle schools in the S Local School District.  It serves about 880 students in grades five through six. Average class size is fifteen students. 

 b.      Mission Statement:

The mission of the O Intermediate School library is to support student learning, and academic achievement during their time at O Intermediate School.  This goal includes the promotion of lifelong reading and literacy skills, education in technology use and information literacy skills, and assistance in preparing students for the 21st-century career field by building and nurturing the skills needed for success at higher academic and socio-emotional levels.  The library accomplishes these goals by regular instruction, guidance and support of students in library and information literacy skills, both during and outside of structured class times, and the development of programs to encourage recreational reading.  The library also develops and maintains a relevant, current, and balanced collection of print, non-print, and digital resources, including quality recreational literature and accurate informational resources.  The library further provides professional resources and collaborative opportunities to support the faculty in their role as educators.


c.       Facility and Collection Description:

The 2000-square-foot facility currently has approximately 20,000 books and audio-visual materials, 24 periodicals and 4 newspaper subscriptions.  Five computers with Internet access are available for patron use, with an additional dedicated computer used for catalog searching.  A 900-square-foot computer lab with 24 Internet-connected computers, one scanner, and two printers is attached to the library media center in an adjoining room, but is only available for whole-class use with teacher supervision.

The nonfiction works are arranged by Dewey Decimal call number with appropriate signage.  Hardcover fiction is arranged alphabetically by author’s last name.  Biographies are arranged alphabetically by the subject’s last name.  Non-circulating reference is arranged by type of reference and then alphabetically.  Picture books are arranged alphabetically by author’s last name.  Periodicals are arranged alphabetically.  Audio-visual materials are arranged alphabetically by author’s or artist’s last name.  Paperback fiction is housed on spinners and loosely arranged by series or genre.  Professional development and curriculum resources are categorized by type of resource and topic, and are housed in the teacher’s area of the library.  All categories of materials listed above are housed in separate areas of the library with indicative signage.

New books, both fiction and nonfiction are housed in a special display case at the front of the library for approximately ½ of the current school year before being shelved in their appropriate locations.

All materials in the library are related to one of three factors: 1. Recreational reading for students, 2. Curricular support, or 3. Professional support for faculty.  Purchases are based on identified needs to maintain a balanced and relevant collection, and on student or faculty request.  The library is automated; all physical resources and equipment are cataloged in the library database.

II.                Circulation:

All books and non-current periodicals in the library circulate to students for a period of two weeks, unless otherwise noted.

Picture books may only be used in-house by students

The following materials circulate only to teachers:

Ÿ         Picture books

Ÿ         Audio-visual materials

Ÿ         Professional and curriculum resources

Ÿ         Class book sets

Ÿ         Class periodical sets

Ÿ         Non-current newspapers

 Non-circulating materials include the following:

Ÿ         Encyclopedias

Ÿ         Dictionaries

Ÿ         Designated atlases

Ÿ         General reference books as deemed needful

Ÿ         Current newspapers

 III.             Selections and Acquisitions:

The O Intermediate School Library acquires the following materials:

Ÿ         Juvenile and Young Adult fiction

Ÿ         Graphic novels

Ÿ         Picture books

Ÿ         Nonfiction books

Ÿ         Biographies

Ÿ         Periodicals

Ÿ         Newspapers

Ÿ         Audio-visual materials (audio CDs, audio books, videos, films, computer software, and other instructional materials as appropriate)

Ÿ         Professional development resources

Ÿ         Curriculum materials (maps, games, flashcards, charts, kits, realia and other materials for the instruction of students as appropriate)

Ÿ         Paperbacks

Ÿ         Reference materials

Ÿ         Virtual database and resource subscriptions (acquired by district)

All materials, except virtual databases are to be cataloged.  All virtual databases and resources are linked from the library’s webpage.

The school librarian will be responsible for the selection and purchase of materials in accordance with the school and district selection policies.  The school librarian will report on usage and make recommendations yearly to the district regarding virtual database and resource subscriptions. 

 Materials will be selected based on personal examination whenever possible.  Other factors in selection will include teacher and student requests and recommendations, award and notable lists, and reviews from major reviewing sources, such as Booklist and School Library Journal.

 IV.             Donation Policy

The O Intermediate Library does accept donations in accordance with the following policy:

a.      Monetary donations

Students, parents, and community members or organizations may donate money new books to the library.  The library maintains a wish list of books and other resources.  Donators may select a book or resource they feel is appropriate and donate the money to purchase that resource, or purchase the resource themselves.  Resources purchased in this way will receive a sticker on the inside front cover with the donor’s name or an appropriate honorarium of their choice.  If the donor donates a large amount of money or chooses not to select books, the school librarian will purchase appropriate materials with the funds.  All monetary donations will be recorded, receipts will be given to donors, and all spending accounted for with purchase receipts.

b.      Books

Donated books will be reviewed before cataloging or addition to the collection.  If the resource is current, meets the criteria defined in the selection policy, and will benefit the collection, it will be cataloged and added to the library shelves.  Books that are rejected for the library collection, but otherwise deemed appropriate, will be included in the annual book sale and fair.  All funds raised from used book donations will be recorded and used to purchase materials for the library.  Books that are not sold will be offered to teachers for classroom use including classroom collections or any other use the teacher finds needful. 

Books including extremely outdated or offensive content, or severely damaged books may be destroyed or disposed of at the librarian’s discretion without inclusion in any of the aforementioned processes.

 V.                Processing

All materials ordered should be verified with a packing slip and compared with the original order.  Receipts, and any accompanying paperwork should be submitted to the secretary.

MARC records should be uploaded or created per the standards in Section VI.

Bar codes should be attached to the center top of the back cover, facing horizontally. 

A spine label with the call number as designated should be affixed to the bottom of the spine and covered with a protective label.

The appropriate Accelerated Reader color sticker should be affixed to the bottom right corner of the back cover and covered with a protective label.

Books should be stamped along the top of the pages and the inside front endpaper with the library stamp.

 VI.             Cataloging

a.      Standards

Resources will be cataloged using AACR2R until RDA is finalized and implemented.  Existing MARC records will be purchased, reviewed and enhanced, and uploaded whenever possible.  All materials except newspapers and periodicals (and any other continuing resource deemed “hard to classify”) will receive Level 2 cataloging.  If no prior records exist, the librarian will create original catalog records for the resources, using Level 2 AACR2R.  The librarian will first attempt to derive catalog records from other sources, including the local public library system.  The CIP information will be used for summaries and subject headings unless incomplete or incorrect.

 b.      Subject Headings

Library of Congress Subject Headings will be used for subject headings.  Whenever possible, LOC Children’s Subject Headings will be used.  At least three subject headings will be listed for cataloged items.

 c.       MARC Standards

Existing MARC records will be purchased whenever possible.  All MARC records must be reviewed and enhanced by the school librarian.  The school librarian is responsible for reviewing and enhancing the following parts of the MARC record for all derived catalog records:

Ÿ         Subject Headings – All records must contain at least three subject headings

Ÿ         Summary – All books and audiovisual material must have a 520 summary.

Ÿ         Target Audience – 521 field required if the information is contained on the resource itself; Accelerated Reader Level should be included in this field.

Ÿ         Awards – 586 field if the book has received a Newbery or Caldecott Award or Honor.

Ÿ         Content Standards – 658 field is required for all curriculum materials, picture books, and periodical sets.  A 658 may also be added to other resources including A/V and nonfiction if the school librarian or a faculty member can create a useful connection of the material to a specific content standard. 

VII.          Classification

Nonfiction – The Dewey Decimal System will be used for all nonfiction works.  Spine labels will have a Dewey Decimal number not more than five digits long (two decimal places) on the top line, and a three to four letter abbreviation of the author’s last name on the second.  Accelerated Reader colored level stickers are placed on the back cover of the book in the bottom right corner if appropriate.

 Biography – Biographies will be shelved alphabetically by subject’s real surname.  The spine label will be three lines: 1. BIO, 2. A three-letter abbreviation of the subject’s surname, and 3. A Cutter number of the subject’s surname for shelving purposes.

 Reference (non-circulating)  – Reference will be shelved according to type of material: Encyclopedia, Dictionary, Thesaurus, Atlas, Almanac, and Other.  The spine label will be two lines: 1. REF, and 2.A four to five-letter abbreviation of the material type (ENCYC, DICT, THES, ATLS, ALMNC, GENRF).  Encyclopedias should be shelved according to set order, and the number of the volume will be placed after the ENCYC abbreviation.  This method will be used with any non-circulating multi-volume reference set.  Other non-circulating items may be placed within their material type without regard to shelf order.

 Periodicals – Current periodicals will be placed in clear binders and displayed alphabetically.  Back issues of periodicals will be housed directly under the displayed issue inside the shelving unit for up to one year (ten issues).  Older periodicals will be moved to the storage room.  Periodicals will have a four-line label containing the following: 1. PRDCL, 2. Dewey Decimal Classification not more than five digits long (two decimal places), 3. A four-to-five letter abbreviation of the title, and 4. A three-letter abbreviation of the month, and the issue year.

 Class Periodical Sets – These resources are shelved alphabetically by title (as sets) in the teacher resource area.  They are kept in the library for not longer than one year, after which time they may be distributed to faculty or disposed of.  Teachers wishing to keep a certain set may request the set for when it becomes available for distribution.  Each issue in the set is marked with a number from one onward.  Labels and bar codes are placed on an 8.5” x 11” card housed in the magazine holder with the set – the set is counted as one item with several parts for cataloging purposes.  Labels follow the same format as standard periodicals.

 Juvenile Fiction – Fiction books are filed alphabetically by the author’s last name.  Spine labels consist of two lines: 1. JFIC, and 2. A three to four letter abbreviation of the author’s last name.  Accelerated Reader colored level stickers are placed on the back cover of the book in the bottom right corner if appropriate.

 Young Adult Fiction – The library maintains a small amount of YA fiction specifically selected for the student body, in recognition of the advanced reading skills and growing maturity of some members of the student body.  YA fiction is interspersed with Juvenile Fiction, and follows the same cataloging policy.  The top line of the spine label reads YAFIC.  

 Class Book Sets - These resources are shelved in crates alphabetically by author’s last name (as sets) in the teacher resource area.  Each book in the set is marked with a number from one onward in the upper left hand corner.  Labels and bar codes are placed on an 8.5” x 11” card housed in the front of the crate with the set – the set is counted as one item with several parts for cataloging purposes.  The card label consists of three lines: 1. CLASS SET, 2. A four to five letter abbreviation of the author’s last name, a comma, and the author’s first initial, and 3. A five to seven letter abbreviation of the title.

 Picture Books – Picture books are shelved alphabetically by author’s last name.  The spine label consists of two lines: 1. PICT, and 2. A three to four letter abbreviation of the author’s last name.

 Audio/Visual – Audiobooks are shelved on spinners in the library.  Spine labels follow the format for juvenile fiction or nonfiction, except that the top line should be AUDIOBK.  Accelerated Reader colored level stickers are placed on the back cover of the book in the bottom right corner if appropriate.  Other audio/visual materials are housed in the teacher resource center, shelved by type of material and by Dewey Decimal number. Spine labels will consist of two lines: 1. An abbreviation of the material’s format (DVD, CD, CD-ROM), and 2. A Dewey Decimal number not more than five digits long (two decimal places).

 Professional Development – Professional development materials are housed in the teacher resource area, and are shelved using the Dewey Decimal System.  Spine labels will consist of three lines: 1. PRODV, 2. A Dewey Decimal number not more than five digits long (two decimal places), and 3. A three to four letter abbreviation of the author’s last name.

 Curriculum Support Materials – Curriculum support materials are housed in the teacher resource area, and are by subject.  Spine labels will consist of two lines: 1. CURRIC, and 2. A subject abbreviation ( LANG, SCI, SOCST, PHYS, MATH, ART, HLTH, MUS).   

 Paperback Fiction – Paperback novels are housed on spinners, and categorized by series or genre.  Spine labels consist of two to three lines: 1. PBK, and 2. An abbreviation of the book’s genre (MYS, SCIFI, FNTSY, HISTF, FIC) OR SER for series fiction.  If the book is part of a series, a third line contains an abbreviated version of the series title.  Accelerated Reader colored level stickers are placed on the back cover of the book in the bottom right corner if appropriate.

 Graphic Novels  -- Graphic novels are filed alphabetically by the author’s last name in their own section. Spine labels consist of two lines: 1. GRPHC, and 2. A three to four letter abbreviation of the author’s last name.  Accelerated Reader colored level stickers are placed on the back cover of the book in the bottom right corner if appropriate.

 VIII.       Review Policy

The catalog policy will be specifically reviewed following its first year of implementation by the school librarians of the district, and at least one member of the administration.  After its initial year, the policy will be reviewed every five years by the school librarians in the district.  The district library department will meet annually to review and update policies; any major district-wide changes will be implemented in the policy on an annual basis.  Major changes to national classification standards will be implemented in the school policy after being adopted district-wide through a district library department meeting.  Changes to the existing catalog due to national standards will be implemented not more than five months after their adoption by the library district.

 IX.             Rationale

This cataloging policy has been created to establish a consistent approach to cataloging the O Intermediate School’s library resources.  The policy is necessary and beneficial for several reasons:

a.       Library aides and student volunteers often process incoming materials.  This policy provides a standard guide to prevent errors, enable aides to work independently and shorten the time required for the librarian to review processed materials.  Note: Processing by aides does not involve original cataloging.

b.      This policy will help create consistency in cataloging throughout the district.  As the district moves toward allowing online access to school library catalogs and a district-wide interloan network, the policy will allow librarians in the district to assist one another and move more easily among school locations as needed, preventing inconsistencies in cataloging due to personal preferences. 

c.       This policy will help improve access to materials for both students and teachers.  A standardized approach to enhancing the MARC record will ensure that patrons are able to locate all available resources and to determine easily which will be the most beneficial to them.  This will save the time of both patrons and the library staff, and make the best use of the funds invested in library resources.

d.      The catalog system will also serve as an inventory of the school library’s resources.  The policy requires cataloging of all resources, which allows for a more complete inventory in case of major loss, theft or damage, and promotes ease of location of resources that are checked out or not returned.

e.       The policy will help ensure that the use of less traditional resources by patrons will not go unnoticed, providing more information about circulation and use statistics, which will in turn lead to more relevant purchasing decisions and promotion of library funding endeavors.

 X.                Sharing Plan

In order to promote unity and collaboration with librarian colleagues throughout the school district, this library policy will be shared with the district library department at several key phases of its life cycle.

a.       Prior to final implementation, the policy will be shared at the next district library department meeting.  It will be distributed prior to the meeting for review by the other librarians in the district and discussed during the meeting.  Any necessary or recommended changes will be made to the policy in order to make it consistent with other policies in the district, particularly with regard to the MARC record standards.

b.      After approval by the library department, the policy will be reviewed at the end of its first full year of implementation.  The school librarian at O Intermediate will review the policy and make recommendations for changes based on perceived need after a year of use.  The school librarian will also develop a summary report of any positive results of the cataloging policy, or policy items that functioned particularly well within the library.  If those items are not currently a part of the district-wide policy standards, the school librarian will make recommendations to the library department based on the successes of this policy. 

c.       The district library department will review the policy and discuss and finalize any changes.  They will also discuss any recommendations for possible district-wide implementation. 

d.      The policy will be reviewed following this procedure every five years after its initial year. 

e.       If the librarian determines a particular need that could be met by making an immediate minor change to the cataloging policy, suggested changes may be implemented immediately, provided that they constitute additions to the catalog record. Nothing approved by the district department may be removed from the policy requirements without district department approval.

f.       District librarians will have access to a district library listserv on which they can discuss cataloging issues as they arise.