The cataloging process begins here at the catalog queue. The catalog queues allow us to keep track of what's being cataloged and allow several people to work on the same project while not stepping on each other's toes.

Once we've identified a resource we'd like to catalog we need to start keeping track of it (since it's probably not alone and we are easily distracted). If yours is a self-contained cataloging cocoon--you're finding and cataloging a bunch of stuff in isolation--then a simple spreadsheet of urls may suffice. However, frequently multiple people are involved in the process (authors submitting things to be cataloged, multiple catalogers sharing the load, folks overseeing the project who want to know how things are progressing, etc....). In these situations we need a centralized tool where everyone can see what is being cataloged and where it is in the process. To that end we have Cataloging Queues.

There are actually several different cataloging queues, one for each of our major projects. Each queue serves the same purpose. It acts as the central tracking area for resources as they move through cataloging. From their first arrival on the scene as resources in need of metadata - all the way to successful inclusion in our sites and distribution to other digital libraries through the miraculous powers of OAI.

You can jump to a cataloging queue directly from the main admin site. Look under the project you are working on (Cutting Edge, MLER, and the like) and you will see a catalog queue:

Screen shot of link to a catalog queue

Entering a new record into the queue

The first page you'll see gives you the choice of viewing the items currently in the queue or to enter a new url that you'd like to add to the mix. We'll start with entering a new URL. To do that, past a URL (with complete http://...) in the box and hit submit.

After entering the url the system does a check in several places to make sure the resource hasn't already been cataloged (or is in the process of being cataloged). If it finds a matching catalog record it will provide a link to the editing interface for said record (as it sits in a local catalog), which you can investigate and use as necessary (thus saving you the effort of cataloging it). Also provided is a link to search the catalog at which is necessary to make sure it's not been cataloged there (though records cataloged there which have been imported into our system will also show up in the earlier checks). Note that only EXACT matches for the url you've entered are found. So if you put in and someone had already cataloged (which is really the same content) then this check WOULD NOT catch the duplication. Be sure to use complete urls...

Once you've leapt this initial "is it already cataloged" hurdle you can fill out the submission queue form.

Screen shot of a single catalog queue entry

The first two fields are easy and not strictly necessary. The information you enter here won't automatically move itself into the real cataloging system so entering a title and description here is really just a nicety and mostly useful if you already have easy answers to those questions at hand which you'd like to keep track of for later entry into the real cataloging tool.

The url and email address will be filled in automatically. The Resource Category field is just a way for us to group resources from related projects so we can find them more quickly later when we view the Big List of Everything in the Cataloging Queue. Either select from an existing category, or enter a new name that will be meaningful in identifying this particular set of resources from amongst all the others. Any new entry you make here will show up on this menu (for everyone) from now on, so be judicious.

Skipping ahead a bit we find a DCS ID field. Use this to make a note of the DCS catalog ID (e.g. SERC-NAGT-000-000-000-002) for resources cataloged into a DCS. It's handy to have around so that people can locate the record in the DCS. The Master ID field can be used to note the master id (surprise) which you will find is automatically assigned (and viewable) in the relevant local cataloging tool. If you're working with the DCS you can find it by searching on the record title in our local catalog once the record has reached Done state (finished QA). For other resources which are cataloged into a local catalog in the first place the master id is assigned right away. It's important to note since it's the bit of information people need to actually insert a reference to the catalog resource in a web page.

Next up is the Notes field which is purely for the edification of those involved in cataloging. Use it as you like to track any extra info or jog folks' memories about special circumstances surrounding a particular resource.

What we've left out is the Destination Catalog field and it's where the real action is. There are 5 different cataloging routes a resource can follow and one of your most important decisions in filling out this particular form is what road to send the resource down. In order to answer this question, you'll need to learn a bit more about each catalog tool and when we use it. Or, when in doubt, you can also just ask your friendly project leader.

Once you've assigned your resource to an appropriate cataloging pathway you can submit it and proceed. Remember, 'submitting' it to a particular pathway doesn't actually enter it into the corresponding catalog tool. That's something you still have to do by hand-copying over the url and starting up a new record in the appropriate tool. For now we'll look at the resulting cataloging queue by following the view cataloging queue link.

Viewing the cataloging queue and updating the status of records

This page shows list of all the items in the queue (clever huh?). You can sort the columns by clicking on the headings. This is handy for grouping like submission together (e.g. all the things in the same Category, or all the things from a given person). Clicking the edit link to the left of a given submission gives you a view of its details. Here you'll see all the fields from the original add a new item to the cataloging queue' form, as well as a few new ones.

The first new field is labeled State. This is simple menu that indicates where the resource is in the cataloging process. As the resource moves through the process those involved should change this setting as appropriate. The stages are:

  • Submitted - this just means someone has does the initial entry of the resource into the queue. New entries are set to this automatically.
  • Cataloging in Progress - work has begun. This is handy if several people are working on dealing with a queue, to keep from stepping on each other's toes or duplicating other's work.
  • Waiting for Submitter Approval - This step is not used in all projects. In Starting Point many resources are submitted to the queue by authors and after the initial cataloging record is created the description is sent to the original author involved for vetting. This state indicates the cataloger is waiting for the okay from that original author. Skip this if it doesn't apply to your project.
  • Waiting for Final QA - the cataloger has done their work and they are waiting for another cataloger to give it the once over and send an email back indicating the record is flawless. :)
  • Cataloged - the cataloger has moved the record to the Done state in the relevant cataloging tool. It's available in the CMS, to outside libraries and through our search engines.
  • Added to web page - if the record was originally identified as something that needed to be added to a particular part of the site, this setting indicates that that work has been done.

Note that none of this is automatic. It's up to the person actually doing the work (the cataloger) to revisit the queue and change the State manually as progress is made.

What's next?

All of our web sites encourage users to contribute resources for us to add to our collections. These suggestions flow into a submission queue. If this applies to your work, then learn more about submission queues.

Everything making sense so far? If so, then proceed to the cataloging tools to see how the cataloging actually gets done.