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Cataloging Positions

Information for cataloging related roles

Role of OPAL Catalogers

What's Unique in a Consortium Setting

OPAL members share a library catalog that includes all participating members' contributed records. Therefore, cataloging is done according to practices decided by OPAL members; these practices that may overrule or override local practices. In a consortium we have to balance our local needs with good housekeeping and user design for the group and maintenance of our common catalog. Things can get messy quickly even with one catalog, so imagine what could happen if there were no consistency among dozens of institutions.

Key Practices and Things to Know

  • We follow national and international cataloging standards and established agreed upon OPAL practices.
  • Our standards and procedures are outlined in the Cataloging Handbook
  • We include only one instance of an OCLC bib record into the shared catalog. No duplicate bibs with the same OCLC#. (Be sure to search the catalog by OCLC number before exporting a record from OCLC.)
    • Bib records are shared
    • Item, order, and check-in records are not shared: records owned by one library cannot be edited by another.
  • When overlaying existing records, avoid overwriting enhancements added by other OPAL members. When in doubt, ask the owning institution or send an email to the OPALCAT email list.
  • Ebooks are cataloged (see E-task force for caveats) while electronic databases and websites are not.  
  • The OPAL Catalog (OPAC and ILS versions) can be limited to show just your institution’s holdings or expand to show all of OPAL’s combined holdings. Our records also display in the OhioLINK catalog, our parent consortium. 

Copy Cataloging vs. Original Cataloging: OPAL and OCLC Practices 
There are numerous options for new and current members to find answers to questions about the shared catalog, cataloging practices, and cataloging in general. The COI listserv is available to ask and answer any questions. The vast member knowledge of expertise can help answer any question big or small. Don’t be afraid to ask.  

  • New to OPAL or need a referesh?  Ask the team at OhioNet ( about being paired with a peer mentor who can answer questions, be a sounding board for ideas and acclimate you to OPAL and consortium practices. We can also facilitate specific training.
  • OhioNet offers webinars throughout the year on basic and advanced cataloging topics. 
  • The OPAL Cataloging Committee of Interest (Cataloging COI) meets twice a year (virtual or in-person) to conduct business, update each other and consider new projects. The COI page provides detailed information and resources about cataloging within our consortium.