Zoological Society of London library catalogue loaded

We’re pleased to announce that the holdings of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) library have been added to Copac.

ZSL Library. Image copyright Zoological Society of London

Image copyright Zoological Society of London

Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity, whose mission is to promote and achieve the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. ZSL Library has an important role in communicating information about, and inspiring an interest in animals, habitats and their conservation. It contains a unique collection books on all aspects of zoology and animal conservation. The book holdings date from the sixteenth century to the present day, and include many of the magnificently illustrated folios of the nineteenth century; books on the development of zoos and menageries; books by Fellows of the Zoological Society; the history of the Zoological Society and zoology.

To browse, or limit your search to the holdings of the ZSL library, go to the main tab on copac.ac.uk and choose ‘Zoological Society of London’ from the list of libraries.


The National Archives Library loaded

Copac is pleased to announce that the Library holdings of The National Archives have been added to Copac. The collection serves primarily as a research library for users of the archive and holds approximately 65,000 books and journals as well as online resources. It is open to visitors and staff of The National Archives.

The Library holds publications from the 17th century onwards and is still growing.  Primarily

Image from The National Archives, under CC-BY

Image from The National Archives, under CC-BY

a history library, its collection includes local history record society series, military history especially covering the First and Second World Wars, family history and directories including London Post Office directories.  It also houses complete sets of the published State Papers and other calendars of public records, a good collection of Acts and Statutes and a range of academic journals. A growing number of online resources are also available.

To browse, or limit your search to the holdings of The National Archives library, go to the main tab on copac.ac.uk and choose ‘The National Archives Library from the list of libraries.

Implementing RDA in Cambridge University Library

Celine Carty, Cataloguer at Cambridge University Library and member of the Cambridge RDA Steering Group, writes about the Library’s transition to using RDA.

Entrance artwork at Cambridge University Library

Bronze book bollards at the entrance to Cambridge University Library

“Cambridge implemented RDA in 2013”. What a simple statement that seems to be, but behind it lie an awful lot of detail and hard work.

Getting started

The main University Library and four of its affiliated libraries all implemented RDA (Resource Description and Access) on March 31st 2013. The other Cambridge libraries – there are over 90 in total including colleges, faculties and departments – will implement on October 1st. The preparations for this implementation began at least a couple of years ago, however, and the transition to RDA requires ongoing support and learning even after the initial training is over. Those 5 words at the start of this post describe a long process.

Once the Library of Congress and the British Library announced that they would be implementing the new cataloguing standard RDA on March 31st 2013, it made sense for Cambridge to follow suit. As part of the Legal Deposit Libraries Shared Cataloguing Program, we contribute to the BNB (British National Bibliography) and as part of NACO  (Name Authority Cooperative Program) we both use and contribute to the LC/NACO Authority File. Once the date was set, it suddenly felt like we had an awful lot of work to do in a very short time.

Training and implementation

One of the main challenges of RDA implementation in Cambridge was simply the logistics of coordinating training and implementation across so many libraries. By the end of this month, we will have offered RDA training to almost 200 people across all of the Cambridge libraries, some of whom are full-time cataloguers but many of whom only do some cataloguing as part of a more generalist post. Developing and delivering training in this context is quite a big job in itself. Beyond that, though, the main issues were agreeing Cambridge policy for the various options and alternatives available in RDA and also making sure all the systems were able to display, index and interpret the new MARC fields. The fact that RDA itself is in constant flux as changes and clarifications are made to the text and to the practices of the major national libraries certainly makes RDA implementation more complicated too.

The fact of setting an implementation date was itself quite useful, as it helped to focus the mind and encourages staff to take a bit of time out of their very busy work schedules to think about RDA. Over time, the number of RDA records in the BNB, in the Library of Congress and in Copac itself has grown and grown. This meant that many staff saw RDA in their copy cataloguing, which was very useful for familiarising them with the changes that RDA brings (particularly the more immediately obvious such as relationship designators, the loss of GMD (General Material Designation) and the new-look 264 fields for publication, distribution and manufacture information).

Cambridge RDA logo

Cambridge RDA logo (links to training materials website)

Creating policy: Do, discuss, document

Based on our experience of developing local policy for RDA, I would say that there is no need to wait until every aspect of policy decisions is finalised – instead try as early as possible to do some hands-on cataloguing in RDA. This really helps to bring to the surface the main issues and problems. At the recent CIG (Cataloguing & Indexing Group) pop-up workshop on “Getting started in RDA”, I talked about the 3-Ds of creating policy: “do, discuss, document”. This iterative process allowed us to develop our local policy, all of which is documented in the Cambridge Monograph Workflow (available in the RDA Toolkit, for anyone with a subscription) as well as our Cambridge Standard Record. Both of these documents are being constantly updated as changes are made to the RDA guidelines or in light of our own experiences with cataloguing in RDA.

There is a great deal of RDA training freely available online. Originally, we planned to avoid writing our own training by using as much of the freely available material as possible. However, although the Library of Congress modules were thorough and detailed, we felt that their pace and content wasn’t quite right for our local needs. It quickly became apparent that we would need to rework the existing training to make it suitable for Cambridge cataloguers. We therefore adapted the LC and BL modules, with some additional material. At this stage, we incorporated all the Cambridge local policy decisions about RDA (and developed more when we realised we needed them).

While we were preparing the training, I was in frequent contact with colleagues at the University of Oxford, Trinity College Dublin and the British Library as well as in many national and academic libraries in the US, Canada and New Zealand. The help of this international community of cataloguers proved invaluable to our own work and we were extremely grateful to other institutions, in particular to the Library of Congress  and British Library, for making their documentation and training available.

Cooperation and sharing

We agreed that it was very important to build on this spirit of cooperation and sharing and so, in May 2013, we launched CambridgeRDA, a website hosting all of the RDA documentation developed for training the staff of the libraries in the University of Cambridge. All of these materials are made available under a Creative Commons CC-BY licence for anyone to reuse or adapt. CambridgeRDA gives full details of the contents and order of the training modules. Although the training materials were developed for an internal audience and so obviously reflect Cambridge practice and policy, we hope they may be of use to you if your institution is thinking about implementing RDA cataloguing some time in the future.

Card catalogue - "superseded by"

Image is in the public domain: http://www.flickr.com/photos/deborahfitchett/2970373235/in/pool-685365@N25/


Mathematical Association library catalogue loaded

We’re pleased to have added the library of the Mathematical Association to Copac. The Mathematical Association (MA) was formed in 1871 as the Association for the Improvement of Geometrical Teaching.  The MA is now the leading UK association for mathematical education at all levels from primary schooling to the university, including postgraduate work.

Page from Euclid's 'Elements'. Image copyright University of Leicester

Page from Euclid’s ‘Elements’. Image copyright University of Leicester

The MA library started on a very small scale in the 19th century and now comprises nearly 11 000 text books, popular mathematics and higher mathematics books, and around 700 runs of mathematical periodicals from many different countries.  The library also includes an exceptional collection of nearly 200 mathematical manuscript exercise books from the 18th and 19th centuries: the John Hersee Collection.  The MA library as a whole is a unique resource for the history of mathematics and its teaching, learning and popularisation in the UK from the 16th to the 21st century.

Since the mid-1950s, the collection has been accommodated in the University of Leicester Library, where the Special Collections include around 850 of the MA’s older (pre-1850) and rarer books and mathematical serials.  The oldest book in the collection is a 1533 edition in Greek of Euclid’s Elements.

To browse, or limit your search to the holdings of the Mathematical Association library, go to the main tab on copac.ac.uk and choose ‘Mathematical Association’ from the list of libraries.


University of Exeter full library catalogue loaded

Copac now contains the full catalogue for the University of Exeter, excluding joint print holdings at its shared Tremough Campus in Cornwall. Particular strengths include Middle East Collections, the Arab World Documentation Unit (AWDU) and Special Collections.

Image copyright University of Exeter

Image copyright University of Exeter

The Middle East Collection is strong in most areas of Islamic studies, especially religion, philosophy, history, Arabic literature and all the social sciences. The AWDU covers all aspects of life (except literature and religion) in the Arabian countries plus Iran. The major strengths of the Special Collections include mediaeval and early modern history, nineteenth century studies and history of popular culture, and twentieth century literary and historical studies.

The Special Collections and the Arabic World Documentation Unit are housed in the Research Commons, Old Library Building. The Arabic literature collection is housed in the Forum Library at the centre of campus.

To browse, or limit your search to the holdings of the University of Exeter library, go to the main tab on copac.ac.uk and choose ‘Exeter’ from the list of libraries.

British School at Rome Library & Archive catalogue loaded

We’re pleased to announce that the records of the British School at Rome catalogue have been loaded onto Copac.

The British School at Rome is Britain’s leading humanities research institute abroad; a centre for interdisciplinary research in the Mediterranean supporting the full range of arts, humanities and social sciences.British School at Rome library

The BSR Library supports the research activity of the Fellows and resident scholars and consists of c. 60.000 volumes and 600 current periodicals.
Collections include:

  • Italian archaeology: prehistory, classical and medieval
  • Italian topography, especially the topography of Rome
  • ancient history and texts
  • ecclesiastical and medieval Italian history
  • history of Italian art and architecture
  • the writings of travellers in Italy
  • ancient religions
  • rare books collection, including Thomas Ashby’s library

The BSR digital collections website, launched in 2009, includes 15,000 records and 12,000 images of historic photographs from the Archive and maps and engravings from the Library’s Rare Book Collection.

To browse, or limit your search to the holdings of the British School at Rome library, go to the main tab on copac.ac.uk and choose ‘British School at Rome’ from the list of libraries.

RDFa added to Copac records

Copac record displays now included RDFa markup. This should make our record (or metadata if you prefer) displays more machine readable.

You should see no difference in our record displays (unless some bug has been disturbed somewhere.) However, you can reveal the RDFa by giving one of our record displays URLs to the W3C RDFa Validator. If you do that you’ll see that we have used a variety of vocabularies in encoding our data. An example of the type of output you get from the Validator is shown below in Turtle format.

<http://copac.ac.uk/crn/013797505> a schema:CreativeWork;
    isbd:P1045 "With 85 photographs by the author."@en;
    isbd:P1053 "120 p. : illus. ; 29 cm."@en;
    schema:about "History"@en,
        "Peak District (England) — Pictorial works."@en,
        "The Peak, Eng."@en;
    schema:author [ a schema:Person;
            schema:name "Poucher, W. A. (William Arthur)"@en ];
    schema:datePublished "1946."@en;
    schema:inLanguage "English"@en;
    schema:name "Peak panorama : Kinder Scout to Dovedale."@en;
    schema:publisher [ a schema:Organization;
            schema:name "Chapman & Hall,"@en ] .

The primary vocabulary is schema.org, though where our metadata couldn’t be squeezed into schema.org we’ve used other vocabularies. The full list is as follows:

I don’t know of any user applications that can make use of RDFa yet. I was hoping Zotero might be able to harvest the RDFa, but it doesn’t seem to be able to. So if anyone knows of anything that can make use of the RDFa in our record displays, please get in touch.

We’d also be grateful to know if you think this is a useful addition to our records, how it could be improved and if you think you’ll use it.

Record error reports

When we launched the new Copac website in May 2012, we included a small feature as an experimental courtesy. We were occasionally contacted by Copac users to tell us about errors in Copac records, and decided to make this easier for them by introducing a button into each record.

screenshot of report a record error button

Clicking on this opens up an email to the Copac helpdesk, with all the information we need to identify the item.

error report email


This makes it easier for the user to submit the report, and easier for us to find the error. It removes the need for the user to copy and paste the item url, or tell us what they searched for. And it means that we can quickly and reliably see which item the error is in, instead of having to go back to the user to ask for further details.

Before we introduced this feature, we would get reports of errors in Copac about once a month. We thought that the new button would make it easier for those users, and that we would maybe get around ten times as many reports. We were unprepared for what actually happened.

In a year, we have received over 1000 record error reports. 1054, to be precise, working out at just under 3 a day. For a while after launch, we were getting reports in the double figures every day. This has settled down now, and some days we don’t get any at all – but there’s still the occasional day when the trickle becomes a flood again, and there seems to be a new error report every time we open the inbox.

Because we weren’t expecting such a high volume of reports, we hadn’t planned how to deal with them. The Copac helpdesk is staffed on a rota, with staff answering queries a couple of days a week alongside their other work. I’m sure you can imagine the effect this sudden influx of extra queries had, especially as we were just figuring out how to deal with them. We also hadn’t warned the contributing libraries about them, and had to hastily email them to warn them to expect the error reports, and ask them to nominate an email address for us to send them to.

Not all record error reports are created equal. A report of a typo in a record held at a single library is quickly dealt with: we email the library, including the error report, and ask them to look at it. As Copac is deduplicated, there is often more than one library mentioned in each record – but each library might not have the error. For instance, where different subjects have been assigned, these are all incorporated into the consolidated record.

multiple subjects


multiple librariesIf there’s an error in one of these, we would need to look through all of the original MARC records to see where the error lies. Some records on Copac might have come from 20 or more MARC records, which can take quite a chunk of time out of your day.

Once we’ve contacted the library (or libraries), we reply to the reporter to thank them for letting us know, and telling them that we have passed the information on to the library, and any changes they make will be reflected on Copac the next time they send us an update.

This is crucial: the records on Copac remain the property of the contributing libraries, and we don’t make any changes to them ourselves. The library with the error will make the change in their local catalogue, and then send us an updated version of the record. This means that not only is Copac being improved, but the local library catalogue, too.

And often this improvement can be quite significant. Fixing a typo in a title can mean that a record which might have been undiscoverable before is now more visible to those who are interested. Copac users also report misattributions (my favourite recently being an anthropology PhD thesis, wrongly credited to Enid Blyton); information about pseudonymynous authors; extra biographical, historical or contextual information; translation or transliteration errors; and information about particular imprints or ownership of rare books.

At the moment we just send this information on to the libraries, where it will usually find its way into the catalogue in some form, but we’re definitely considering how we might be able to share some of this rich and valuable information with all Copac users, and the wider scholarly community.

Now that record error reports are an expected part of our workflow, they’ve become a source of amusement and enlightenment – though you might not believe it if you’ve heard me groan at the discovery of another ISBN that’s been assigned non-uniquely. We really are deeply grateful for users who take the time and make the effort to help improve this valuable bibliographic data for everyone. Just form an orderly queue behind the error button…

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales library catalogue loaded

We are pleased to announce that the holdings of the Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales library catalogue have been loaded onto Copac.

National Museum Wales libraryThe Museum’s library exists primarily to support the curatorial staff at the National Museum’s seven sites throughout Wales, covering archaeology & numismatics, fine and decorative art, botany, geology, industrial and social history, and zoology. The Library contains a number of special collections, including books on early natural history, tours of Wales in the 18th and 19th centuries, and a selection of private press material, including the Gregynog and the Golden Cockerel presses.

In addition to purchasing material for the collections the Library has accepted several generous donations and loans since the 1920s when the first Librarian was appointed.

To browse, or limit your search to the holdings of the Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales library, go to the main tab on copac.ac.uk and choose ‘Library Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales library’ from the list of libraries.

Henry Moore Institute Research Library catalogue loaded

We’re pleased to have added the holdings of the Henry Moore Institute Research Library to Copac.

Henry Moore Institute Research LibraryThe Henry Moore Institute Research Library is a specialist resource for the study of sculpture, open to all seven days a week. The library specialises in British sculpture post-1850, with collections spanning international and historical contexts, taking in monographs, exhibition catalogues and themed publications. The library holds around 20,000 titles, including rare publications, artists’ books, ephemera and a unique and growing audio-visual collection.

The catalogue has been added as part of the Copac Challenge Fund.

To browse, or limit your search to the holdings of the Henry Moore Institute Research Library, go to the main tab on copac.ac.uk and choose ‘Henry Moore’ from the list of libraries.