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RamCat Records Vacation in San Antonio

August 20, 2014

The Library’s cataloging department spent the summer organizing the conversion of 469,540 records that display in RamCat.

No more “ill.,” “illus.”, “col.”, or “p.” in records.

What did you do on your summer vacation? During June and July, 469,540 active bibliographic records from RamCat spent time at the MARCIVE “spa” in San Antonio, where they were “pampered” and “massaged” and converted to the new cataloging standard (Resource Description and Access, otherwise known as RDA).

While there is much more to this new standard, what users of RamCat will first notice is the lack of many abbreviations commonly found in records using earlier cataloging standards. Abbreviations have been used in the past because of space constraints when the information about a book or journal title had to be typed on a 3X5 cataloging card. This carried over to the automated environment when storage costs were at a premium. Neither of these constraints exists in the current online environment, therefore the use of abbreviations is no longer necessary.

Catalog card image Catalog card image RamCat Record view RamCat Record view


Prior to the records’ vacation in San Antonio what may have appeared in RamCat like this

“vii, 96 l. : ill., facs., maps ; 29 cm.”

now appears like this

“vii, 96 leaves : illustrations, facsimiles, maps ; 29 cm”

Examples above and below illustrate a few of these changes in some of the Library’s older titles. The “card” examples are from catalog cards, something not seen in public in the ASU Library for almost two decades.


Catalog card image Catalog card image

  RamCat Record view RamCat Record view


While abbreviations have been spelled out, some information has been removed from the title field in RamCat records. Remember those words or phrases in brackets in the middle of titles, such as [electronic resource], [microform], or [videorecording], which may or may not have meant anything to you? They are called “general material designations” and give you an indication of the format of the item. They are not included in the RDA standards, however, so they have been removed from the RamCat records.

Online journals, online books, and online government documents should have the phrase “1 online resource” or “1 electronic text” in the description area of the Record View in RamCat. The streaming videos will have the phrase “1 streaming video” in this area. Microforms are a different matter, so look at the location in the holdings information section, which should assist you in deciphering the format of an item. If a title is in the “Stacks,” it’s obviously a book. If the location is “Online Books” the title is an ebook. If a government document is in the location “U.S. Documents Microfiche (Basement)” it is on microfiche.

RDA also allows us to encode the copyright date of material separate from the publication date. Therefore, you will also see more “copyright notice” information, with the copyright symbol (©) included. This is important to note, especially when evaluating online resources/ebooks. The publication date for these materials may be “2014”, for example, because that is when a vendor digitized the material, but the digitized material may, in fact, have a “copyright” date of 2012 (or earlier). Depending on the subject matter, that difference may be very important. (See the Guns in America figure below to see a copyright notice and the use of “1 online resource”.)

RamCat Record view RamCat Record view

We hope this conversion of the RamCat records has made the information clearer to our users; however, this process was automated, not performed manually, so some strange “conversions” may be seen. If you see something you think is incorrect, please contact Janetta Paschal (