What is Cataloging?

Cataloging is the process by which we create and maintain the database of books, journals, audiovisual materials, etc., that are owned by Florida International University. Materials "owned by FIU" include online resources for which FIU Libraries have purchased access. You can search this database using the SEARCH box on the Libraries’ home page.

Every title in our Libraries--whether physically located here or accessible on the Web through library purchase--is described in a separate record which contains the information that you see as a user plus extensive computer coding. This coding is called the MARC record--Machine Readable Cataloging. Coding each element in the record allows the user to fine tune a search down to the smallest element such as date, format, language, location (in a particular FIU library or on the Web). You can do more specialized searching by clicking on the “Catalog” tab at the top of the screen of the Libraries’ home page; then select “Advanced Search.”

The Libraries receive too many new materials for us to key in the data for every title. For this reason we utilize the services of a bibliographic utility to share cataloging records with other libraries. Our utility is OCLC which has a membership of more than 72,000 libraries in 170 countries and territories. The database contains more than 300 million records.*

When a matching record is found in OCLC, the record is checked for accuracy and then loaded into the catalog. When no record exists, professional cataloging librarians and highly trained paraprofessional catalogers create one and enter it into our catalog and into OCLC for other libraries to use in the future.

The cataloging staff of FIU's two campuses add about 30,000 items a year to the catalog database. This is in addition to the records that are batch loaded for our US Government Documents depository collection and for our thousands of online journals.

The FIU Cataloging Department has qualified to participate in OCLC's Enhance program. We also participate in the NACO (Name Authority Cooperative Program) and SACO (Subject Authority Cooperative Program) projects of the Library of Congress. (For more information about the NACO and SACO projects, see What is Authority Control?)

*Statistics as of December, 2013