Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Department Landing Pages: Cataloging

Cataloging Header Image


The Cataloging Department creates and maintains the libraries’ online catalog of both physical and virtual collections. The Department describes, classifies, and provides indexing of the libraries’ materials; does quality control of the catalog’s records; and does general database management so that the libraries’ materials are organized for retrieval by our users.


Department Head, Rita Cauce
Phone Number: (305) 919-4052

Cataloging Goals
Cataloging is a user service which strives to meet the following goals*:

  • To enable a person to find a book (or other material) of which either
    • the author,
    • the title, or
    • the subject is known
  • To show what the library has
    • by a given author
    • on a given subject
    • in a given kind of literature
  • To assist in the choice of a book (or other material)
    • as to the edition (bibliographically)
    • as to its character (literary or topical)

These are sometimes summarized as: I) identifying or finding known items; II) collocating or bringing together related materials; and III) providing sufficient data so that the user can evaluate and select from among related materials.

*Based on Charles A. Cutter’s Rules for a Dictionary Catalog, 1904.
Adapted from Wynar’s Introduction to Cataloging and Classification by Arlene G. Taylor, 9th ed., 2000, p. 7-8.

Respond to the needs of all State University Libraries’ constituents with collaborative and innovative practices

Facilitate speedier and ever wider access to the resources available to our user communities and keep the official record of the holdings of the State University Libraries


  • Provide accurate metadata to ensure user success
  • Assure uniformity of names and subjects to benefit the end user’s discovery experience in next-generation library catalogs
  • Perform subject analysis to facilitate effective searching
  • Classify related material together to allow for subject browsing as well as to support collection analysis and development
  • Offer convenient full-text access when available
  • Expose hidden collections to make transparent the extent of our resources
  • Create and maintain the inventory of the SUL’s collections
  • Continually review workflows and apply state-of-the-art technology to maximize efficiency
  • Adhere to internationally accepted metadata standards to make possible data-sharing and data-migration
  • Participate in resource sharing cataloging cooperatives to increase productivity and cost-savings

Formally and unanimously adopted at Cataloging Summit, Oct. 2, 2009.

FIU Catalogers' Values
Our top value is serving our users.

We value accurate information in the library catalog for the use of our students and faculty…and for the use of our colleagues who work directly with library users.

Quality control is an essential feature of any user-centered service and the quality control of library catalog data is the “public” service that catalogers strive to provide.

We value the user’s time and we believe that we save their time by providing in depth subject analysis of the research materials in our collection. Subject analysis is something we cannot afford not to do.*

Because we value the user’s time, we provide the service of classifying related materials together; we believe that facilitating browsing is a service to our users.**

We value the uniformity of names and subjects and the syndetic structure of our data provided by authority control; we believe that these aspects of knowledge management “can benefit the end user’s discovery experience in next-generation library catalogs.”***

We value the user’s desire for online access to library materials; we strive to always provide catalog records with hotlinks whenever links are available.

We value work done on a timely basis; when we cannot keep up with in-coming work, we provide at least minimum-level records so that uncataloged materials can be requested by our users. There should be no hidden collections whether they are in a cataloging backlog or in a storage facility.

We value efficiency and we strive to continuously improve our procedures and workflows so that our work is done as efficiently and effectively as possible.

We value metadata created according to international standards because we know that such metadata will serve not only today's catalog user but also next-generation catalog users as well.

We value the resource sharing of international cataloging cooperatives—such as OCLC and the Program for Cooperative Cataloging of the Library of Congress. As with all resource sharing, the members must do their fair share of the cooperative work or the system will disintegrate and individual libraries will carry a greater burden by having to edit and create more records locally.

We value the positive image that Florida International University Libraries have earned as a result of our contribution to these international cataloging cooperatives.

*Data Quality: What Users and Librarians Want: an OCLC Report, 2009, p. 47: 32% of users want more subject information.
**"Catalog Information and User Expectations in an Amazoogle World,” Against the Grain, Nov. 2007, p. 42: 87% of users reported that shelf collocation of items on the same topic or subsequent editions of a work is important.
***Data Quality, p. 49. Catalog Information, p. 42: 92% of users indicated that authority control was important.

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

What is the library catalog?
The library catalog is an inventory of all the materials owned by the library. Some of these materials are “owned” in the sense that the library has paid for a license permitting online access for the users of the library. The catalog also describes the various materials (whether it’s a book, DVD, CD, etc.; who wrote it or who performs; and what it is about) and tells where the material can be found.
What is a Discovery Tool?
A discovery tool offers users a single interface for finding all the information they need by searching the full scope of FIU Libraries’ collections: books, e-books, print and electronic articles, and other types of resources. Users can access digitized resources and the full text of articles—when available and licensed for FIU; can see information about an item's availability displayed in the search results; and can place an order for an item through Inter-Library Loan or UBorrow.

What is Authority Control?
Authority control is the establishment and maintenance of consistent forms of terms—names, subjects, and titles—to be used as headings in the bibliographic records of the library catalog. Headings must not only be consistent, they must also be unique.

Authority control fulfills two important functions.

  1. It enables the disambiguation of items with similar or identical headings. For example, two authors who happen to have published under the same name can be distinguished from each other by adding middle initials, birth and/or death dates. Disambiguation enables researchers to find all the material by and about a given person under one form of name.
  2. It enables the collocation of materials that logically belong together, although they present themselves differently. For example, authority records are used to establish uniform titles, which can bring together all versions of a given work even when they are issued under different titles—Hamlet, Shakspeare's Hamlet, Tragicall historie of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke.

The headings in authority records are dynamic and changes are received weekly from the Library of Congress (LC). Computer files of revised LC authority records are loaded centrally by staff at the Florida Virtual Campus, and librarians at the State University Libraries (SUL) make sure that the headings in our shared database are the same as the authorized headings from LC.

The revised headings are not found only in new cataloging records; they can be found in the records for even the oldest titles held by the libraries. For example, LC finally noticed that the subject term “Cookery” was out of date; they modernized it to “Cooking.” Because FIU has a large Hospitality Management program, this change meant that thousands of headings had to be revised in the library catalog. Fortunately, the computer system used by the SUL permitted us to use a “global change” function for subgroups of the changed headings.

The Library of Congress figured out years ago that they could not create and maintain the authority control databases alone. The national libraries of other countries, such as the British Library and the Library and Archives of Canada, are major partners. Also, selected librarians across North America have been specially trained by regional trainers who were themselves trained by librarians at LC to help with authority work.

FIU catalogers were intensively trained for a full week and then were “under review” for more than a year in order to qualify to be independent contributors to the authority control databases of LC’s Program for Cooperative Cataloging. We contribute authority records for uniform titles and names—personal, corporate and geographic—through the Name Authority Cooperative Program (NACO). We contribute authority records for subject headings through the Subject Authority Cooperative Program (SACO).

In a recent development, the headings in the Library of Congress name authority file are now being added to the Virtual International Authority File. For more information, see

Collection Summary 


The University Libraries’ collections comprise over 2.1 million titles, with over 650,000 electronically available online. Electronic titles, available from anywhere 24/7 with your FIU login, include e-books, e-journals, streaming audio files, and streaming videos. Librarians work closely with faculty to select materials to support the teaching and research needs of the university.

Library Collection Statistics*
*statistics as of 06/30/2019
Print Book Titles 1,121,284
Electronic Book Titles 418,349
Physical AudioVisual Titles 361,407
Electronic AudioVisual Titles 104,279
Print Serial Titles 1,270
Electronic Journal Titles 127,793

Cataloging Annual Activities Presentations

Wondering what Cataloging has been up to? Check out our year-end reports!