Resource Description

Resource Description Department Logo Image

Resource Description, a department within Discovery Services, provides metadata for intellectual access to materials, data, and information services selected for Smithsonian Libraries (SIL) and manages this information for use by the institution's scholarly and research community as well as the public. The primary resource management and discovery system for the libraries' collections is SIRIS (Smithsonian Institution Research Information System), currently supported by SirsiDynix Horizon software.

The department's services are provided by three units: Catalog Management, Original Cataloging, and Metadata.  Contract cataloging services also provide support for the work of the department. Resource Description uses OCLC, a bibliographic utility that enables global sharing of cataloging information, and participates in cooperative efforts, such as the Program for Cooperative Cataloging, to provide cataloging services as effectively and economically as possible.

Resource Description is also engaged in a broader range of activities that enable and augment discovery and access. Staff provide advice and guidance for projects to provide increased access to library holdings and resources that fall outside of the mainstream. Staff produce various reports that provide specialized services or management information about SIL collections and resources. In response to the growing emphasis on making more resources available in digital form, Resource Description staff participate in various metadata initiatives that support the digital initiatives of the library. There are several cataloging and catalog-related functions that are performed in other library units, including some outside of Discovery Services, and Resource Description staff coordinate policies and procedures and provide technical support for these activities.

Catalog Management (CM)

Catalog Management staff search the OCLC WorldCat database for needed bibliographic records, and they perform all levels of copy cataloging of monographs, accounting for more than two thirds of all materials cataloged within Resource Description. Shelf-ready materials received through the WorldCat Cataloging Partners service are processed in CM. The section is responsible for database maintenance within Smithsonian Libraries catalog (a component of SIRIS, the Smithsonian Institution Information System), work that includes editing catalog records to reflect added copies, transfers of holdings between branches, deaccessions, and maintenance of summary holdings statements. CM staff also assist in providing quality control review of contract cataloging work.

Original Cataloging (OC)

Members of Original Cataloging create original catalog records for monographic materials and resources that are not represented in OCLC WorldCat. All of SIL's original records are contributed to the OCLC WorldCat database, where they are available for use by other libraries and to the public through OCLC's web initiative, WorldCat.org. Some OCLC copy cataloging that requires extensive editing or special expertise, such as rare books, audiovisual material, and electronic resources, is also done by OC staff.

Metadata

Metadata staff take the leading role in providing and managing metadata (MARC and non-MARC) for digitization projects, such as the Biodiversity Heritage Library and the Cultural Heritage Library. They are also responsible for metadata management for Smithsonian Research Online, a set of research services based on the work of Smithsonian scientists and scholars.

Special Projects and Contracts

Contract catalogers provide ongoing support for mainstream original and copy cataloging in addition to rare book cataloging and various special projects. Some examples of projects include retrospective barcoding, upgrading records for digitization projects, creating serials holdings information, and processing of large collections acquired through purchase or gift.