MARC Challenges

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I mentioned in my earlier post this week that despite all odds and time restraints I managed to find an age-appropriate, quality (and free!) book for 4th and 5th graders in “My Sparkling Misfortune” by Laura Lond which has won awards and is recommended for students in intermediate grades of elementary school through middle school.

I ran into some trouble trying to put a digital record of it in the library.  In librarian-speak, we call this the MARC record.  It allows students and teachers to see that the book exists on our Nook ereaders that we lend out.  In short, it helps students find it.  The challenge is: MARC records don’t exist for self-published books.  Though they have ISBN numbers to make them “count” as official books, no one is cataloging them.  Not the Library of Congress, no one in Access PA (our state union catalog), and no one at Follett’s Alliance Plus service.  Those there sources are where our district gets most of our records.

That leaves a very dreadful solution…original cataloging.  For time-strapped, overworked librarians, that one task strikes fear into our hearts and makes our blood pressure soar.  And not too many people in the self-publishing industry are thinking of this.  What practicing (read: busy) libarians need is an “EZ MARC creator” to make quick-and-dirty records for our catalogs.  All it needs to have is the book’s title, author, copyright year, a summary, and a cover image.  The rest is just icing.

I broke down and did it, though.  Destiny makes it easy, if time-consuming.  The one problem I haven’t solved is how to get the book cover image (available from the URL online) into the MARC record.  I think it’s linked to the ISBN number on all of our traditionally published books, but the ISBN isn’t porting the image as of now.

Solutions and suggestions are appreciated.  I’ve tried Zotero, though it seems just as clunky to create records.  In the meantime, I’m starting a list of MARC records (not great ones, but workable) for ebooks that don’t have one yet.  Hopefully I’ll get all these resources on a LibGuide sooner rather than later.

UPDATE two days later: I found that if you enter the ISBN number, and two or three is better, one of them is likely to link to the cover image.  I didn’t find this out until I searched for “My Sparkling Misfortune” a day or two later in our library catalog.  The cover popped up, and that small win made my day!

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Mrs. J in the Library

Collette J., or Mrs. J in the Library, is a full-time elementary teacher-librarian, blogger, and mama from Pennsylvania. She loves technology, books in any format, makerspaces, and all things Harry Potter. The information and opinions represented here are her own and are not the views and opinions of any business or organization.

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