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Downloadables and Catalogs

Page history last edited by Kim Miller 11 years ago

May 5, 2009



Scott Dermont, IA

Here is a question that I got during a presentation about our upcoming survey. Can downloadable items (ebooks, audio, video) be counted as part of the collection if the library has the items cataloged in their CARD catalog or other form of non-online public access catalog (would that be a NOPAC?)… I admit to being caught off guard on that one. I think they are trying to find loop holes in the system. My inclination is to answer no – that the key word here is ONLINE. But I just wanted to make sure that the key word isn’t CATALOG.


Thanks again for your help.


IMLS Response:

After reviewing the data element definition, IMLS concluded the following:


The key word here is indeed online.  Only report items that “…the library has selected as part of the collection and made accessible through the library's Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC).”


Thanks for your time and attention.   


Post IMLS Response:

Bruce Pomerantz, MN

I suggest that the sources of these items (audios, e-books, video) for which a library has a license (thus excluding You-tube and other networking sites) be counted as databases. We must acknowledge their existence.


IMLS Response (2):

There are certainly pros and cons to only counting downloadables that are listed in the OPAC, but we are in the middle of collection season and some states have already submitted the data.  For the data we are collecting within a given year to have any value, we have to be consistent in applying the current definitions.


The current definition of a database is “…a collection of electronically stored data or unit records (facts, bibliographic data, abstracts, texts) with a common user interface and software for the retrieval and manipulation of the data.”  Strictly speaking, downloadable audios, e-books and videos do not meet this definition because the user is not manipulating the data for retrieval, so it would not be appropriate to categorize them as such.


The Library Statistics Working Group and the December SDC conference are the channels to use if someone is interested in formally changing a definition.  We can continue to discuss the merits of the requirement that a downloadable be listed in the OPAC, but when it comes to the actual data submission, downloadable audio/e-books/videos must be accessible through the OPAC in order to be counted.


Post IMLS Response (2):


Tom Ladd, NH

I certainly agree that we can’t change definitions in mid-stream, and I don’t think that these are databases as we WANT them defined.  I want to raise another issue.


My concern is that we have defined downloadables as a part of the collection, and are now counting them as that, YET we also say that they must be in the OPAC. 




NH has a number of libraries offering downloadables to their patrons through an online web presence, but they still have card catalogs, not OPACS.  They are providing the same service, spending the same money, providing access to the same “collection”, but just because they lack an OPAC, we make an inequitable count amongst their counterparts.


I am not disputing that this is what we now do, but I would like to suggest that the proper channels reconsider the OPAC requirement.


Michael A. Golrick

So, if I hear you right, and to answer another question, you want the emphasis on “catalog” not on “online.” Although I would argue that the “online web presence” could be construed as an “OPAC.”


IMLS Response (3):

Fair enough.  We'll discuss this during the next Library Statistics Working Group meeting.


Thanks for your input.












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