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Cataloguing and metadata skills in the publishing world: a visit to the Cambridge University Press offices

A blog post from Kim Taylor, cataloguer, who joined us at the visit to the Cambridge University Press offices:


On the 30th of April, I joined a small, friendly group of cataloguers and metadata professionals in a visit to the Cambridge University Press (CUP) offices. The day-long event was brilliantly organised and hosted by CIG Social Media Manager Concetta La Spada, who is the Metadata Specialist and Senior Library Data Analyst at CUP. As attendees, we represented a healthy mix of cataloguing experiences and perspectives, coming from academic, special and public libraries, as well as the vendor and freelancing side of the spectrum. Hence, none of us required convincing of the value of good metadata in promoting discovery of resources. Improved metadata equals improved discoverability, right? While obvious to cataloguers and metadata experts everywhere (certainly those reading this blog), this dictum has not been so readily embraced by the publishing world – that is, until recently, with institutions such as Cambridge University Press leading the way.


The visit began with a morning tour of the Press museum – where, amongst other exhibits, we were treated to the fascinating story of the 11th edition of the CUP Encyclopaedia Britannica that accompanied, and provided intellectual sustenance for, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men on their ill-fated, though heroic, Antarctic expedition. While the documents and artefacts on display each held significance in their own right – including an assortment of steel punches designed by John Baskerville, of the Baskerville font fame, and a folio edition of the King James Bible (1638) – I was struck by the fact that they so pointedly traced the development of the world’s oldest publisher, whose first book was published well over four centuries ago (1584, to be precise).

DSC_4809_Press Museum

As enjoyable as it was to browse items from CUP’s collections, the afternoon sessions provided some of the even more enlightening moments of the day. Presented by various representatives from CUP’s marketing and content operations, these informative and informal talks offered unique insight into the world of publishing and, more importantly, the expanding role of bibliographic metadata within that world, particularly e-resources. We learned, too, that Cambridge, in another first, was also one of the earliest academic publishers to provide ‘in-house’ cataloguing – and for free, it should be mentioned – to its customers, a move that more publishers are now following. Specifically, the provision of accurate, comprehensive metadata to customers is now viewed as an integral component of CUP’s products and services.

The presentations by CUP staff covered a range of topics: from the challenges of compatibility between CUP’s many bespoke services and customer systems (some of which are still very print-centric) to the resistance on the part of some authors (and even some customers) in accepting the critical role of metadata in supporting access to and use of resources. Cambridge, like other publishers, has begun to place more onus on its authors to supply keywords and indexing of the works they submit for publication. This action underscores the growing commitment of CUP to facilitate the essential service provided by people like Concetta. It also helps to educate those librarians who might still need to be convinced of the value of quality metadata in supporting their work, particularly with respect to the ever-increasing challenges – and opportunities – of the linked data environment.

The work Concetta performs has helped to elevate the Press beyond its stature as one of the premiere publishers of academic content to that of a respected provider of comprehensive bibliographic metadata, confirmed by the decidedly positive reactions of customers to CUP’s efforts. In fact, the response further encouraged CUP to undertake retrospective enhancement of its existing bibliographic records, spanning over 20,000 titles.

The key takeaway of the day (apart from the much appreciated reusable, thermal bottle) was the unqualified commitment on the part of CUP to invest in cataloguing talent so crucial to this still relatively new initiative on the part of publishers – i.e., to provide not just published works, but quality metadata to promote the discovery and use of these works. As such, CUP, and publishers who follow suit, now find themselves in pursuit of the knowledge and skills offered by professional cataloguers and metadata experts, which is good news for the library and information profession overall and, not least, the employment prospects of those seeking work within it.



Terry Reese: MarcEdit & Metadata trends

Thursday 6th June 2019, 1.30 – 4.30 pm

An opportunity to hear Terry Reese, the internationally acclaimed developer of MarcEdit, speak about the latest functionality of the software and likely future metadata trends.


1 pm – Registration
1.30 – 2.15 pm – Latest MarcEdit developments
2.15 – 3.00 pm – Audience Question Time
3.00 – 3.30 pm – Refreshment Break
3.30 – 4.30 pm – The Future of Cataloguing & Metadata

Book here

Library Juice Academy course on MarcEdit: a report by Laura Cagnazzo

Why I wanted to take this course

I had been keeping an eye on the courses offered by Library Juice Academy for a while, but I had not been successful in obtaining financial support from my employer in order to enrol on one. That is why, as soon as I saw that the Cataloguing & Indexing Group was offering a sponsored place to attend the MarcEdit course, I decided to grab this opportunity! And luckily, as you can guess, my application was successful.

My current post at Abertay University involves cataloguing. I am particularly interested in metadata and I advocate for its key role in enabling discoverability. I had often heard about the great potential of MarcEdit in terms of improving metadata quality, enabling bulk editing of catalogue records. I wanted to attend the course mainly for the following three reasons:

  1. Acquire familiarity with this powerful tool and demonstrate to my colleagues that improving our library catalogue is not so time-consuming and complex, when using MarcEdit.
  2. Due to lack of time and staff, there is no plan in place for any retrospective cataloguing project. However, the quality of some of the older records is poor and I suspect that this may hinder the discoverability of the collections.
  3. Use MarcEdit to enhance records in order to share bibliographic information through services such as the National Bibliographic Knowledgebase.


Structure and content

The course was hosted on a Virtual Learning Environment (Moodle) and it lasted 4 weeks.

Each week included reading material and links to further resources, a group discussion, an area where to post questions, and an exercise. Missing deadlines for contributing to the group discussions meant losing points towards the final result, as I learned after missing the cut off date for the first week discussion! However, you could easily make up for it by responding to the inputs of the other participants. Furthermore, the grade required to successfully complete the course was “Pass”, and the instructor very nicely provided answer keys for each exercise, which were providential when I got stuck on a couple of occasions! There was also some flexibility for submitting the weekly assignments, which allowed participants to fit the exercises into their weekly schedule.

The key themes of each week are listed below:

  • Week 1: Introduction to MarcEdit & Basic Editing Functions
  • Week 2 Enhancing & Batch Processing Records
  • Week 3 Building MARC
  • Week 4 Regular Expressions in MarcEdit – by far the toughest and my favourite lesson!


The course involved lots of hand-on work, which is the best way to learn. The instructor, who was very responsive and helpful, provided useful feedback, tips and suggestions on how to tackle issues that course participants were experiencing at their institutions. Instructions were accompanied by screenshots, which made understanding and reproduction of commands much easier. The workload was reasonable and I really feel that there was a perfect balance between theory and practice. Unlike many other trainings I completed, on this instance I felt that, by the end of the course, I was confident enough to use the tool autonomously.

Learning outcomes

A few examples of how to employ MarcEdit that emerged from the group discussions were:

  • Getting rid of non-LC subject vocabularies terms
  • Generating call numbers automatically
  • Setting up task lists to clean up records obtained from vendors
  • Removing local fields
  • Changing fields 260 to 264_1 or 440 to 490 etc.
  • RDA enhancement of records
  • Switching between lower/upper cases
  • Editing fields, sub-fields and punctuation
  • And much more!

A key takeaway from the course: MarcEdit is very much based on trial and error and not only when you are a beginner. The range of operations that you can carry out with MarcEdit is astonishing and the more you learn, the more you realise this. However, it is essential to test each command and verify that it does what you need it to do, since it is easy to get confused or distracted. MarcEdit allows you to undo the last major edit carried out, but I wouldn’t personally risk spoiling a big batch of records without having a backup.



The System Librarian and I are currently looking into using MarcEdit to edit a set of cataloguing records which contain erroneous information in their 008, which cause display issues (books showing up as print in the discovery layer, rather than electronic). Well, I am confident on how to make the changes, but we will need to look at a way of integrating MarcEdit into Alma. Hopefully, this will be the perfect chance to test the benefits that MarcEdit can bring to our collection and the start of a long and happy relationship!

Now that I have completed the course, I can confirm that MarcEdit is an extremely helpful tool and I believe all cataloguers should be familiar with it. I suggest they should teach how to use it in Library Schools, if feasible (but it is a free tool, so I do not see why it shouldn’t be??)


Book available to review!

We have the following title available to be reviewed for our journal Catalogue & Index.  It will be allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.


Byström, Katriina, Heinström, Jannica & Ruthven, Ian (2019, eds.) Information at work. London: Facet Publishing.

If you would like to review this title please contact the editor:

Please bear in mind the following:

We expect the review to be completed within three months of the reviewer receiving the book.

Reviews should be at least 600 words (and can be longer).


The review will be published in the first available issue of Catalogue & Index.


The reviewer will get to keep the book.


(Further guidance will be sent to the reviewer)

Catalogue & Index 195: Call for papers

Our next issue (June) will be looking at RDA and other Standards, and we would like to hear about the variety of approaches people take to standards. Do you follow national and international standards strictly, or do you divert into local practice? If you have local variations is this a historical policy and have you ever thought about changing? With the beta launch of the RDA Toolkit in 2018 where does your institution feel they are on their RDA journey? Do you work somewhere that hasn’t yet implemented RDA – would you like to talk about the reasons behind that, and whether it is an option for the future. Are you waiting for guidance and training on the new toolkit? Where do you think RDA should be going? Do you engage with other standards and participate in making updates and changes? Do you use RDA in a non-MARC environment? We welcome papers on any of the above topics, or any that fall within the topic of ‘RDA and other Standards’.


Please contact the editor (Karen Pierce: with proposed papers, any queries, or if you want to offer a paper that does not fit into the theme mentioned. The deadline for this issue is 31st May. We are always happy to consider papers on topics unrelated to an issue’s theme, especially if it is the result of some research you have conducted, or a project you have been involved in. Papers can be up to 2,000 words, and we are happy to include a selection of images. Please check our guidance for contributors.

Visit to the Cambridge University Press offices

30th April at 11 am

A great opportunity has arisen for 10 CIG members!

On the 30th of April, our Social Media Manager Concetta La Spada, will welcome ten of you for a visit at the Cambridge University Press offices in Cambridge.

You will see:

the Cambridge University Press Museum which holds, among others, the 1534 Letter Patent signed by Henry VIII enabling the Cambridge University to print books. The Cambridge University Press Archive, where every print book or journal ever published by the Press are hold.You’ll also have an opportunity to meet people from various departments, that will explain all the processes of what we call book publishing.

If you have ever been curious to see how a publisher works this is the event for you.

Accessibility info (stairs, long walk, standing, etc.): The Press offices are completely accessible, there is a 10 minutes’ walk from the train station to here

Lunch provided (Please give information about any dietary requirements)

Meeting point 11 at the Press reception.

Books to review: only 1 left!

You have been quick!

There is only one book left:

Sandberg, Jane (2019, ed.) Ethical questions in name authority control. Sacramento: Library Juice Press.

These titles have been assigned:

Cox, Andrew M. & Verbaan, Eddy (2018) Exploring research data management. London: Facet Publishing.

Pennington, Diane Rasmussen & Spiteri, Louise F. (2019, eds.) Social tagging in a linked data environment. London: Facet Publishing.

Hider, Philip (2018) Information resource description: creating and managing metadata (2nd ed.). London: Facet Publishing.

For further particulars, go to the previous blog post