Cataloging Service Levels Offered for Print and Visual Material for Library Digitization Projects

In preparing materials for digitization, bibliographic / descriptive metadata records are improved or created -— sometimes describing publications or collections previously unknown to scholars. Excellent cataloging greatly leverages the library's investment in digitization.


Requesting Library

  • Requesting Library (RL) specifies which cataloging level they request for their print or visual materials sent to Imaging Services (IS) for digitization. There could be two options for cataloging these materials, suggested below.

  • RL determines project name, if applicable, to be used in both the bibliographic and holdings records. Alternatively, IS can construct a project name for RL to approve. Example of project name: Harvard Graduate School of Design -- Frances Loeb Library digitization project. Note: Project name will act as a unique identifier in Alma and OCLC for materials processed for the project and can be used for generating reports, tracking orders, and financial transactions, etc.

  • RL provides a local contact or liaison for decisions on cataloging questions that arise throughout the project. 

Print Material:

Recommended Option: Cataloging Assessment/Revision: materials receive a consistent level of cataloging processing established by IS for print materials and visual materials for the purpose of enhanced discoverability and compatibility with future ILS systems.

Alternative Option: Add Project Name in MARC 830 of the bibliographic record and in the NET Holdings: materials searched in Alma; MARC 830 (if applicable) and NET holdings only added. No bibliographic update or upgrade and/or RL will perform this service locally.

Recommended Option details: (Note: IS will apply some or all of the following services as applicable)

  • Search in Alma to match items-in-hand (by title, call number or item record)
  • Search online databases for acceptable match for items-in-hand (i.e. OCLC, Google Books, Hathi Trust, Internet Archive)
  • If an acceptable match is found add MARC 583 note to paper holding in Alma [or IS might decide to proceed with digitization]
  • Upgrade cataloging including, but not limited to:
    • Provide original cataloging of both print and visual materials, if necessary
    • Convert cataloging according to RDA guidelines, if not already RDA compliant
    • Correct bibliographic inaccuracies, if any, that impact discoverability of item (i.e. typos, errors in physical description, incorrect bibliographic record for item-in-hand, etc.)
    • Add MARC fields to bibliographic record when appropriate for access and discovery (e.g. 490/830, 5xx, 6xx, 7xx fields)
    • Authority control [NACO]
    • Update and/or create holdings for multi-part and serial materials
    • Add project series title (MARC 830) (if applicable) and NET holding 
    • Include printout of bibliographic record and any other paperwork with each item
    • NOTE: RL determines if the electronic record (via the NET holding record) should be exported to OCLC

Example monograph in Alma: MMS ID 990076880380203941

Example serial in Alma: MMS ID 990046622340203941

Alternative Option details: 

  • Search in Alma to match items-in-hand (title, call number or item record) 
  • Bibliographic record remains as found

Example monograph in AlmaMMS ID 990053828550203941

Example serial in AlmaMMS ID 990080790170203941 

Visual Material (VM):

  • Edit existing or create original records for VM in Alma and/or create, verify, or augment metadata in external applications (i.e. JSTOR Forum) and databases (i.e. ACCESS, Excel, etc.)

  • VM can be processed either at RL site or materials can be sent to Widener

  • QC of materials in JSTOR Forum, etc. after completion of digitization process

Example VM in Alma: MMS ID 990096899360203941

Example VM in Hollis Images: Angus McBean photographs, 1936-1970


  • In consultation with RL, edit existing or create collection level records in Alma for collections not deemed befitting of item level description.
  • In consultation with RL, work with existing finding aids for collections when appropriate to enhance description and access.

Example Collection level record in Alma: MMS ID 990076465960203941

Example Finding Aid in Alma: MMS ID 99153757211403941


Note: Some Alma examples included in this document contain the former OCLC symbol HMM in MARC 040 of the bibliographic record. The HMM symbol was consolidated in OCLC to HUL (8/2020).