Introducing BadCat, the Catalog Record Help Desk

On Monday, August 23, 2010, the Catalog Department will implement the new process (see the July 21st blog entry: Catalog Record Help Desk – Internal Pilot) that will allow Library staff to submit catalog record problems via a web form that will feed into the FootPrints ticket system. Each FootPrints ticket will be distributed to an appropriate cataloger for resolution.

The name ?BadCat? was chosen through a Catalog Department vote, and may be defined as follows:


BadCat 1. Errors in the Library?s catalog; 2. Slang: an acknowledgment of such errors, as in ?Yeah, that’s my bad.? 3. Slang: ?cool, excellent person?; 4. Homage to Michael Jackson song about proving one’s toughness: ?Who’s bad?? 5. An epithet directed at a misbehaving cat or catalog.


The BadCat form will be accessible via the OskiCat Help Portal link on the Library Web Staff page.


Clicking on the OskiCat Help Portal link will take you to a page that contains links to forms used to report problems with electronic resources, Millennium problems and OskiCat issues, and beginning Monday, a link to BadCat: Catalog Record Help Desk.

Another option for accessing BadCat to report catalog record problems will be through the Staff View of OskiCat. Once BadCat has gone live, log in to MyOskiCat, search for a record, and then use the “Report a Problem” link at the top of the page.

The “Report a Problem” link takes you to the Help Portal, and from there you will be able to select the BadCat web form. The form will be partially populated with your contact information and the record number and/or title of the item.


Note: Unfortunately, there is no mechanism, at this time, for feeding information from the Millennium client directly into the BadCat catalog record help desk form.


The Systems Office will put BadCat into service this coming Monday, August 23rd. On Monday please wait to report any catalog record problems until you receive an email notifying Allusers that the system is ready.


Bernie  8/20/10


Catalog Department Priorities

The Catalog Department very recently had its staff reduced by 25% due the library-wide hiring freeze and staff participation in the Voluntary Separation Option (VSO).  In response, we have developed new priorities that focus our remaining resources on high priority needs.  These priorities have been presented and discussed at all the Subject Councils, DMAG, Round Table and with the Library Administration.  In the next week or two, we will post a few short blogs on each of our new priorities, listed below. 


Cataloging Priorities


Priority 1:     Establish a standard and efficient workflow


Priority 2a: Maximize patron access to newly received monographs by cataloging as much of this material as possible. 



Priority 2b: Fix high-priority record problems reported to the Catalog Department


Priority 3:   Manage the backlog and find creative means to reduce its size


Communication Priorities


Priority 1:  Facilitate ongoing and open communications with library staff users of Catalog Department Services to ensure we understand their high-priority needs


Priority 2:  Establish targeted communication methodologies to disseminate cataloging policy, priorities and procedural changes to library staff and administration

Cataloging Prio. #2a (of 3): Maximize Patron Access to Newly Received Monographs

Priority 2a: Maximize patron access to newly received monographs by cataloging as much of this material as possible


A Catalog Department priority will be to move the same number of materials out of the final phase of our new cataloging workflow, as enter the first phase. In this process, we will try to minimize the number of items that receive Level 3 cataloging (i.e., In process call#s)


There also have been cases where new materials have not been cataloged because old Gladis procedures were not updated for Millennium (e.g., analytics, accompanying materials, dissertation photocopies, etc).  We have identified all categories of materials with this problem and have made great progress in drafting, vetting and approving new procedures.   


Priority 2b: Fix high-priority record problems reported to the Catalog Department

The Catalog Department has categorized and made an attempt to quantify the different types of record maintenance requests we receive.  For example, book and record do not match, mistake in a record that compromises retrieval (e.g., in an authors name), incorrect treatment (book cataloged as a monograph that should have been part of a MVM set), reclassification needed.  We are in the process of developing a plan to distribute this work throughout the Department.  This will require the development of a new “ticket” tracking system (e.g. based on Footprints).  A Task Force has been charged to design and implement this new system.  Its members include people who submit tickets to ensure that we develop features such as a user-friendly form to report errors and the ability to allow library staff to see the tickets they have submitted.  


Priority 3: Manage the backlog and find creative means to reduce its size

There are two categories of backlogs. The first is of made up of print materials. As of February 2010, there are over 60,000 books in the Catalog Department. The second category is a substantial backlog of batch MARC catalog records to load into OskiCat.

The monographic backlog is challenging because its sheer size creates its own set of problems. For example, tracing materials is extremely difficult given the number of items that may have to be searched. We will investigate and implement creative means such as OCLC batch searching and use of the OCLC Bib-notification service to automatically upgrade records.

The MARC record batch load backlog exists because the Department can not allocate enough time to analysis and spec-writing that is required for each load. Our plan forward is to leverage the synergies between the Catalog Department and System Office. We will train selected LSO programmers to do the analysis, spec-writing and programming for less complicated loads. Complex load analysis, such as SCP monographs and serials, will remain with the Catalog Department.

Thesis and Dissertation Backlogs

Over the past several weeks, I have been blogging about the Catalog Department’s new priorities. We started work on our third priority, “Find Creative Methods to Address our Large Backlog,” by categorizing and counting the backlog.

As part of this process, we discovered that well over 2,000 dissertations & thesis were waiting for cataloging. LSO programmers volunteered to catalog a small number of these every day, starting with the dissertations. Catalog Dept. staff have now trained the Systems programmers on the finer points of dissertation cataloging and they have begun work on this backlog.

I haven’t tried to estimate when this project will be completed, but the end of the calendar year would be a safe bet. This collaboration between LSO & the Catalog Dept. not only has clear benefits to our library patrons, but will sharpen the bibliographic skills of a number of our programmers. It also will be a useful experience when we start receiving electronic dissertations, as we will investigate automating the cataloging process using metadata from Proquest.

A special thanks to all the people involved in this project.   …Bernie


Communication Priorities

Priority 1: Facilitate ongoing and open communications with users of Catalog Department services to ensure we understand their high-priority needs

The Director of Cataloging and his management colleagues encourage questions and comments from library staff. We especially encourage library committees to discuss with us Catalog Dept. priorities and how they relate to the high priority needs of the library staff they represent.

Priority 2: Establish targeted communication methodologies to disseminate cataloging policy, priorities and procedural changes to library staff and administration

Announcing changes to Catalog Dept policies and procedures on our website is an important step in our communications strategy. We have also implemented a more proactive service that will “push” announcements to library staff through a Catalog Department blog. Our blog posting will be short and often include information such as the posting’s title, a short but descriptive summary of the change and the audience that will be most effected by the change. Library staff will be able to provide input on a post by using the comment feature. We strongly encourage management and technical service staff throughout the Library to subscribe to this blog. The Catalog Department will continue to send announcements that have broad and significant impact on library operations to appropriate email lists (e.g., allusers, selectors, Round Table, Technical Services Council, BTECH, etc.)

Catalog Record Help Desk – Internal Pilot (and strange email messages)

A top priority for the Catalog Department is to fix high-priority record problems that are reported to us.

The Library hiring freeze decimated our Data Control Unit that formerly addressed problem record reports. Our response is to design and implement a new process that will allow Library staff to submit record problems via a form that will feed into the Footprints ticket system. These tickets will then be distributed to an appropriate cataloger for resolution.

I am pleased to announce that the Department will be starting an “internal pilot” to use the Footprints system to enter and track record problems. During the pilot, tickets from the DCU backlog will be entered into Footprints where Michael Meacham, the project “triage” person, will determine who will be assigned the ticket.

The tickets worked on during the internal pilot are real problems reported to us. A feature of the new process is that the person who submitted the ticket will be automatically alerted when the ticket is closed (i.e., the problem is fixed).

Don’t be surprised if you receive an email from our new system that reports that a problem you’ve submitted by some other means has been closed. These emails will be from the Catalog Record Helpdesk whose address is

Please do NOT send new maintenance requests to this address. While the internal pilot is being conducted. maintenance requests may continue to be submitted via the DCU webform at:

Our plan is to run the internal pilot for 3-4 weeks to ensure the “backend” of the system being used inside the Catalog Department works efficiently. It will also give us the opportunity to fully train staff who have not routinely addressed maintenance problems as part of their usual work. A final benefit of the pilot is that it should allow us to work down a substantial portion of the existing maintenance request backlog.

The Records Maintenance Process Design Task Force (RMPDTF) that designed this new system has also created a “communications plan” that will teach you how to submit new tickets once the internal pilot is completed and we go into production. More to come on this topic soon.