Searching charges for WorldCat [the OCLC bibliographic database] are one of the heaviest of ongoing expenses in technical services. Effective, cost-efficient searching strategies maximize our ability to adapt to a rapidly changing bibliographic environment, one way we can all "work smarter." With the recent transition to Connexion 2.0 and the demise of RLIN21, this is a good time to document some general points regarding searching best practices for the Connexion client--"best" being the best combination of (relatively) cheap and efficient.
The following guidelines assume that one is searching for cataloging copy. Best practices for NACO heading verification are covered in Authority Control at Yale documentation. In our document, items A.-D. are intended primarily for staff searching for cataloging copy used for order, in-process, or cataloging and who can use copy from LCDB and WorldCat. Items E.-F. apply to all staff searching for cataloging copy, including those who can only use non-roman copy found in WorldCat.
A. Generally search LCDB first, but be aware of the scope of LCDB's resources & of its limitations.
- The monograph cutoff publication date is roughly 1990; monograph titles in LCDB prior to this date are sometimes loaded when LC has updated the bibliographic record (e.g., a heading change). There is no cutoff date in LCDB for non-book formats, including serials.
- If you need a record for a video, skip LCDB since LC does not follow AACR2.
- LCDB is rich in high quality CONSER-level serial cataloging copy, so this should be your first stop if the item to be searched is a serial.
- If you have a lot of experience doing pre-order or post-receipt searching, you should be aware of which subject or language areas are pointless to search in LCDB for recently published material, e.g. German-language art publications. Casalini cataloging records will not be in LCDB.
- Also keep in mind what level of cataloging is needed & whether LC has had time to replace the CIP record with a full record in LCDB. If you are performing pre-order searching for U.S. publications, search in LCDB since a fully cataloged record is not required at this point in the workflow. If you are doing post-receipt searching for U.S. publications and need to catalog the item immediately if copy is available, search in WorldCat for completed CIP or update the record locally, whichever is more efficient. If the item to be searched came from a backlog, search it in LCDB first on the reasonable chance that LC may have cataloged it while the item was hibernating (note that this would apply to backlog items in any language) .
If LCDB has no record or is not selected for one or the other reasons listed above, search WorldCat.
B. Effective searching using Connexion.
- Number searches are the most efficient if a number is available. Note that beginning with Connexion 1.72, a searching command line window has been added to the Connexion toolbar. The window is best used for number searches such as ISBN which do not require an index label (see 4.-5.)
- Keyword searches cost the same as number or derived searches. If a number search is not available, use a keyword search rather than a derived search. If number searches are frequently unreliable, as may be the case for some area publications, it may be preferable to use keyword searching instead.
- Note that unsuccessful searches are charged, so check for typos before sending.
- The power of Connexion is in its ability to combine search terms. A weakness of Connexion is that if you use the Command Line Search, you have to memorize a lot of index labels & learn complicated computer syntax in order to perform combined searches. (Derived searches are even worse.) So generally avoid the Command Line Searches. Instead, use the Keyword/Numeric Search section of the Search WorldCat dialog box, since you can pull the index labels from a menu and avoid having to learn computer-friendly syntax.
- Reserve the Command Line search for ISBN searches; unlike almost all other numeric searches, ISBNs do not require an index term at the Command Line.
- When using a keyword search, make use of the separate qualifier options (date, microfilm, years, format, language) especially if the title sounds generic. When in doubt, qualify. Tip: a date followed by a hyphen will search all items published from that date; preceding the date by a hyphen will retrieve all items published before that date.
- When using a keyword search, make use of combined multiple keyword terms to refine the search in advance, e.g. by combining author, title, and publisher keywords.
- Use the browse (Ctrl-F2) search judiciously. Although there is a half-charge for the browse search itself, there is an additional search charge for every line of the browse display you open as a result of the search.
- Note that If you retrieve 10 records on a keyword search, you can open all 10 records but you will only be charged for one search. Furthermore, browse is less efficient because, unlike a keyword search, it cannot be qualified.
C. Institution Records in Connexion 2.0
- With Connexion 2.0, WorldCat now allows display of both the Master Record and the Institution Records (IRs) of some OCLC members.
- The cataloging on Institution Records may differ minimally or substantially from the cataloging of the WorldCat Master Record. IMPORTANT: Master Records and Institution Records will have different OCLC ID numbers. For that reason, if a record is new to Orbis, the Master Record is preferred, since the 035 linking field in the Orbis record is derived from the WorldCat record's ID number.
- If a record is being downloaded for acquisitions purposes, the Master Record should always be used.
- Cataloging units should determine the appropriate workflow for copy cataloging. In some cases, a Master Record will be at minimal level, so there is a good chance that if there is an IR attached, the IR will be at a higher level, usable for copy cataloging, and should be downloaded instead. A gray area would apply to Master Records coded at full level that close examination reveals will require substantial recataloging. In some cases, an IR may be of better quality, but IRs should not be routinely examined to determine whether the IR is better than the Master Record. In most cases, it is probably more efficient to recatalog the downloaded Master Record in Orbis. Records exported from Orbis back to WorldCat will become YUL IRs in WorldCat. IMPORTANT: If an IR is downloaded, the 079 field must be retained, since it functions as a link to the Master Record--i.e., it identifies the WorldCat "cluster;" the 035 will be derived from the IR's unique ID number (not the WorldCat number), and must also be retained.
- Techniques for displaying and exporting IRs may be found at: Connexion 2.0 Policies & Procedures for Exports
OCLC Connexion Basics
Preliminary Bib. Records: Monographs. Part 3
Encoding Levels for Standard WorldCat Cataloging Copy