Books Cataloging

E-books, Where are You Taking Us?

At the last Technical Services Department meeting, I heard an administrator talk about (among other things) the future of libraries and cataloging. She mentioned e-books and how this format may change the publishing industry. Since then, I’ve seen a thread on the AUTOCAT listserv on how to catalog a Kindle- the actual device- so that it may be checked out by patrons for use. I also remember reading about a Northwest Missouri State University pilot project that distributed e-textbooks to students. What does this all mean for libraries and cataloging?

Well, as this article points out, some speculate that there may be a return to serialized novels, in which one chapter is released (and sold) at a time, a la Dickens and Hardy. Does this affect how we catalogers do our work? Maybe not. I can’t see tracking a monograph as a serial [shudder], but if publishers release an important must-have title by chapter, how do we string those chapters together in our catalog? Should we establish series-like headings in 8xx a field? Do we create one title-level record and tack one link for every new chapter (856 40s) and update the 505 contents field to reflect unique chapter titles, authors, etc. if any?

At IU, we don’t have a e-textbook pilot program. We aren’t handing out Kindles or Sony Readers. Our users are interacting with e-books in vendor or publisher platforms. In cataloging e-books, I’ve come across a number of these platforms. Some are user friendly. I like Gale and Wiley. But some are… not so much. I loathe NetLibrary for it’s crappy metadata and it’s clunky interface. Thank goodness IU changed our policy regarding this last vendor (the vendor records are horrible too). Most interfaces are generic and simple to use but maybe a casual user wouldn’t think so. I sometimes wish IU had a universal e-book interface of its own, you know, in my ‘keep dreaming’ moments.

I wonder how else e-books might change the industry. I hope libraries can keep up.