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The current landscape of bibliographic services for libraries

Library Technology Newsletter [June 2022]


Libraries make use of bibliographic services to facilitate the process of describing materials in their collection. These services provide bibliographic records in MARC format that can be loaded or imported into the library's catalog saving considerable effort compared to creating each record anew. The vast majority of library materials acquired have been previously described. Bibliographic services bring efficiencies to the broader cataloging community, enabling catalogers to focus on previously undescribed materials or on enhancing existing records.

The landscape of bibliographic services for libraries is narrow. Some of the options available in previous phases of the industry have consolidated into other organizations. New services have emerged in this arena recently, including BTCat from Baker & Taylor, and MetaDoor, a proposed new service from Ex Libris.

Current Bibliographic Services

OCLC Cataloging and Metadata Service Subscription

OCLC offers its Cataloging and Metadata Service Subscription to libraries and related organizations to support cataloging of library materials based on the massive WorldCat bibliographic database, currently representing 522 million bibliographic records. OCLC reports that about 8,000 libraries subscribe to the OCLC Cataloging and Metadata Service. OCLC was established in 1967 as a shared cataloging service for libraries in Ohio and has continually expanded the extent of its bibliographic resources and its surrounding services. OCLC is well established as the leading provider of bibliographic services in the United States, as well as in many global regions.


SkyRiver, launched in 2009 as a new company by Jerry Kline, who also owned Innovative Interfaces, as a bibliographic service, positioned as an alternative to OCLC's offerings. In July 2010 SkyRiver initiated a lawsuit against OCLC claiming anti-competitive business practices related to its cataloging and related services. Following the sale of Innovative to a pair of private equity firms, the lawsuit was withdrawn. SkyRiver continues as a product offered by Innovative, now a part of Clarivate. SkyRiver has no connection with the proposed MetaDoor service from Ex Libris.

The Library Corporation: ITS.MARC

The Library Corporation, offering the Library.Solution and Carl.X integrated library systems, has longstanding involvement as a bibliographic services provider. Beginning in about 1984 the company distributed MARC record sets on CD-ROM, though it has other bibliographic services since 1974. This service has evolved continually, to its current form ITS.MARC that includes over 77 million bibliographic and authority records from more than twenty databases, available through the web or Z39.50 clients. TLC also offers eBiblioFile, a service to provide high-cataloging records in support of ebook collections

Baker & Taylor BTCat

Baker & Taylor, a major distributor of library materials and provider of shelf-ready processing and technical services, recently introduced BTCat as a full-featured cataloging environment. This new product is featured in this issue of Library Systems Newsletter: BTCat: a new bibliographic service from Baker & Taylor

Auto-Graphics MARCit.

Auto-Graphics, a company offering the SHAREit resource sharing platform and the VERSO integrated library system for public libraries, also offers a bibliographic service MARCit. Auto-Graphics originally acquired this database through its acquisition of the library information services division of ISM Information Systems Management Corporation in January 1998. ISM was previously known as UTLAS. MARCit includes record acquired through the Library of Congress, records contributed by its customers using SHAREit, and from other sources such as the REMARC database of pre-1968 records from the Library of Congress.


MARCIVE, established in 1981, provides a variety of services to help libraries improve the quality of their bibliographic and authority records. The services provided by MARCIVE are provided through batch processing. The company does not provide a cataloging interface that a library would use to edit or import individual records. Many libraries use MARCIVE for database cleanup projects and for outsourced cataloging of library materials. See the MARCIVE website for more information on the services offered.

Backstage Library Works

Backstage Library Works offers many services to help library with cataloging and authority processing. The services provided by Backstage are provided through batch processing. The company does not provide a cataloging interface that a library would use to edit or import individual records. Many libraries use Backstage Library Works for database cleanup projects and for outsourced cataloging of library materials. See: Backstage Library Works metadata services for more information on the services offered by Backstage Library Works

OCLC Cataloging and Metadata 1967 8,000 522 million
Innovative SkyRiver 2009 92 74 million
The Library Corporation ITS.MARC 1974 ? 77 million
Baker & Taylor BTCat 2021 255 60 million
Auto-Graphics MARCit 1982 500 15 million
Ex Libris MetaDoor 2022 0 ~1.2 billion records
275 million Unique titles


The bibliographic services arena has seen some consolidation. Some of the organizational mergers include:

  • Research Libraries Group, a cooperative of academic libraries merged with OCLC in July 2006. RLG offered a bibliographic database with 48 million records and a variety of services for its members including a union catalog, bibliographic and authority services. See: Big Bibliographic Services: OCLC and RLG
  • OCLC acquired Library Technical Services, a library cataloging service based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada that provided cataloging services and physical processing of materials to academic libraries in Canada. See: OCLC Acquires Canadian Technical Services Operation
  • WLN, the bibliographic services organization serving 550 libraries in the northwestern region of the U.S. and Canada, merged with OCLC in November 1998. See: OCLC and WLN merge
  • OCLC acquired Blackwell North America's authority control services business in 1997. See: OCLC acquires BNA authority control services

[Return to issue: June 2022]
View Citation
Publication Year:2022
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Library Technology Newsletter
Publication Info:Volume 1 Number 06
Issue:June 2022
Publisher:Library Technology Guides
Place of Publication:Nashville, TN
Record Number:27422
Last Update:2024-04-19 02:23:53
Date Created:2022-06-20 12:53:32