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OCLC Searching with Connexion 2.4 and Aleph 20



Searching involves taking a physical item (a book, DVD, CD, etc.) the library has received and finding a record that perfectly matches the item in hand in a national database called OCLC (also known as WorldCat). This manual provides information about how to perform searches with software called Connexion, which permits you to connect to OCLC. After searching material, you will learn to bring the records you have found into the library’s on-line catalog, Aleph.

Searching involves learning the important parts of an OCLC record that must match the book in hand. To do this, you will learn how to read an OCLC record as well as learn some of the specialized terminology used in this work. This manual is designed to be used as a supplement to direct training from a staff person. It is not intended as a stand-alone guide.


Ask Yourself: Are You Overlaying an Existing Record or Creating a New One in Aleph?

Determining if the item you are searching is to be overlaid or is a new record is very important when searching OCLC. Before you begin searching an item in OCLC, be sure you are clear on which action you are to perform. If you are not clear, ask

OVERLAYING A RECORD When you overlay a record in Aleph, you are replacing a temporary record in Aleph called a provisional. All Aleph records have a unique system number assigned to them. Control number is also sometimes used in Aleph in place of system number. If the item is to be overlaid, it should have a system number (A unique number corresponding to the bibliographic record in Aleph.); it is also sometimes called the control number. If there is a system number for an item, it often (although not always) is found written in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of the item in hand. Sometimes the system number is written on a slip of paper placed in the item or in a printout of the Aleph provisional. Sometimes you only discover the record has a provisional by searching it in Aleph. If you believe the item you have is to be overlaid but cannot find a system number or cannot find a record in Aleph, take it to your supervisor.

When working with overlays, always search Aleph by title and confirm the system number accompanying the item. NEVER assume the system number you get with an item is correct. After you have found the matching provisional in Aleph, you can proceed to Connexion. If the record you find is not a provisional record, let your supervisor know immediately.

Creating a New Record Some of the items you will be searching do not have any record in Aleph; thus, it does not have a system number. You will need to create an Aleph record when working with NEW records. This is accomplished automatically by exporting a record from OCLC or creating a provisional record in Aleph. These steps are explained a little later.

When working with new records (not in the catalog at all), always search Aleph by title and confirm that the item is not in the catalog. After you have verified that this item is not in Aleph, you can proceed to Connexion. If you find a record for the item, let your supervisor know immediately.



Searching Bibliographic Records in Connexion

These guidelines provide guidance for student assistants and staff searching OCLC for Library of Congress, BIBCO and member-contributed copy to be used for copy cataloging.

Some General Rules for Searching by Title

  • Perform a title search using the title as it is on the title page of the item. Do not use information from the front cover of the book. The front cover and the title page may not be exactly the same; sometimes they are very different from one another. The title field on the bibliographic record you are searching is based on the title page only.
  • Use the cover title if the item does not have a title page. This is especially common with government publications, some small NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and some conference proceedings.
  • When searching OCLC or Aleph, do not use definite or indefinite articles if they are the first word of the title. In English these are: “the”, “a”, and “an”. Definite or indefinite articles within the title are used in Aleph when doing a Browse search, but are not necessary when searching in Connexion. A list of the definite and indefinite articles of several common European languages should be posted next to each student workstation. If you don’t find one, ask your supervisor. This is important because you may mistakenly think the item is not in the OCLC database or the catalog when, in fact, it is.
  • It is usually simplest to not use punctuation in Connexion searches. For example when searching the title Brazil’s Endemic Orchids omit the apostrophe and type Brasils Endemic Orchids.
  • When searching titles with numbers, you can simply type in the number. 1001 Arabian Nights could be searched with the number 1001.

Key Word Searching in Connexion

The primary way to search the OCLC database is by title, using keyword searching. Below is an example of the CONNEXION search window.


There are many types of keyword searches available in Connexion using the pull down menu to the right of the keyword search text box. See next illustration.


Multiple words can be entered in each text box. Up to three different types of searches (e.g. title and author and publisher) can be done simultaneously. Typically just the title or a combined title and author search are sufficient. However, when searching tiles containing common words or classic works published many times over the years, it may be necessary to progressively narrow your search with more terms.

Example: Suppose you have a book in hand called The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, published by Dover Press in 1999. War of the Worlds is a famous early science fiction classic published in 1898. There have been many printings which can be seen by using only title and author in our search. Note that we omit the first article “The”. Since this is a keyword search, we also omit “of” and “the” in the middle of the title (although those omissions are not absolutely necessary):

In the list of hits below, grouped by format and dates, there are probably more than 850 hits in total – a lot to sort through for just one matching record.

Occasionally you have to bite the bullet and actually go through a list like the one above, but you can usually narrow your search to reduce the number of hits. For example, if we added a third search term such as the publisher – Dover -

we would get this result.

Note that when you get a list of this type a good deal of information about each title is provided: author, title, place of publication, publisher, date of publication, pagination and source (discussed below). The column headers can be sorted by clicking on the appropriate header.

 Dates: You can limit your search by a specific year (example: 1999), by decade (example: 199?) or by century (example: 19??). This can greatly reduce the number of hits you get with a search.

The search result for “War of the Worlds” is a little different when we include the publisher and the date; we get only one matching record:

Remember that if you use multiple parameters to limit your search and you find no records, you should try systematically reducing the number of parameters. In the above example, had we found no records, we would want to first try searching without the date, then without the publisher in order to be sure that we had not limited our search too much.

Doing Numeric Searches

Searching with ISBN – Currently, we discourage ISBN searching even though it is a fast way to search most material in OCLC. ISBN searches are not always accurate. You cannot assume that an ISBN search will take you to the best copy available. However, you certainly can do an ISBN search whenever you cannot find copy using keyword and scan title searches.

Searching with OCLC number –You may be given material that has been searched and a record found but not brought into the catalog. In this case, you can use the OCLC number (unique number associated with each OCLC record). Below is an example of searching with the OCLC number:



Limiting a Search by Material Type or Microform

You can limit a search by material format. This can be especially useful when searching for OCLC records for DVDs and VHS tapes. For example, if you were searching for a record of a DVD recording of Shakespeare’s play King Lear, you could conceivably get hundreds of records by just searching the title. You would get far fewer hits by limiting your search by format and date as follows:

Using this search we would get 10 hits, without the qualifier, DVD, we would have to sort through 96. Without the year or the qualifier, DVD, we would get more than 4,000 hits!

You can also search by qualifying whether the material is in microform (microfilm or microfiche) format. If you need to find a record for The Complete Records of the NAACP on microfiche, you would do the following search:



Matching an Item with the Correct OCLC Copy

Before we look at how to match an OCLC record to an item, we need to go over some terminology. Each line of the bibliographic record (a record that completely describes the item you are searching) starts with a three digit number called a tag. The entire line is called a variable field, or just field. If you look at the 245 field, which is where you would verify the title, there are lower case letters (underlined in the example below). The letters are called delimiters and the part of the field demarcated by these letters is called a subfield. The subfield b of the 245, for example, contains the subtitle of the book.


Variable Fields in an OCLC Record 1


There is another set of fields called fixed fields. Not many of these fields are relevant for matching item to record in OCLC, but a couple of them are:

Fixed Fields in an OCLC Record

When you first open an OCLC record, after verifying that the title and author on the record match the item in hand, there are two things you need to check immediately before proceeding:

1) We need to check that the item in hand is truly a new item for our library. We do this by checking the top part of the record immediately above the fixed fields. The illustration below shows you where to look. The status bar should say “No holdings in FUG”. If it says “HELD by FUG”, this may be a problem. FUG is the OCLC code for the University of Florida. “Held by FUG” means that we may already own the item you have in hand; it may be an added copy to an existing record in Aleph. In the beginning ask your supervisor what to do. It takes a while to develop an understanding of when an item you have may be an added copy. Do nothing with the item until you speak with your supervisor. Notice in this particular illustration the OCLC record does say “Held by FUG”, so this would probably be an add to an existing record in Aleph.

2) After checking whether the item is held by the University of Florida. Check the BLvl fixed field (bibliographic level). The code should be “m” for monograph. If the BLvl is m, you can continue. If the code is “s” (for serial), print the record (Click the printer icon in the top tool bar) and take the item to your supervisor. Do nothing else with the record until you speak with your supervisor.


If the record is not held by FUG and has an “m” in the BLvl, you then need to determine whether the record retrieved matches exactly the item in hand. You must verify that the following elements in the OCLC bibliographic record match the item you have in hand.

Title (245 field) – Besides verifying the main title, be sure to check the subtitle (subfield b). Avoid using records with a delimiter n|, and check with your supervisor if you encounter a delimiter p| in the 245. If you find a record with a delimiter n| in the 245 field, this means you should be looking for a volume set record, not a single monograph record. Be sure to search again. Also it may mean that you need to try an alternative title. Sometimes there is more than one possible title present on the book. It is not always straightforward which would be the correct one to use. In the example below, note that after the delimiter n| is 1 and there is also a delimiter p| present. The delimiter n| means that this is a bibliographic record for the first volume of a larger volume set, not just a single book. The delimiter p| provides the name of that individual volume. If you encounter only one record and it has a delimiter n|, show it to your supervisor. There are some cases where this type of record may be acceptable. It is very difficult to establish a general rule.


Individual Author(s) (100, 700 fields) -- is the field used for an individual author(s) such as the example above. The 700 field is used for additional authors or editors of a work.

Corporate author (110 field) is the field used for corporate authors such as the World Bank, the Bureau of Statistics or the government of Lesotho.

Conference name (111 field) are used for conferences, workshops, meetings, seminars, etc. Records with a 111 will usually, though not always, be for conference proceedings.

Edition statement (250 field) – is the field used for the edition of the work. While this field is not always present (usually omitted for 1st editions), it is very important when you have to choose between multiple records.

Place of publication, publisher and date of publication (260 field).

Pagination (300 field) -- Pay special attention to whether the record is for an individual item or a volume set. Also, pages number may be inaccurate in records with Elvl 8.

Series statement (440 or 490 and 830 fields) – The 440 or 490 series satement must match item in hand including any series numbering.

Theses and dissertations have an extra field you should be aware of. Every year the library receives blue bound copies of theses and dissertations from UMI. The blue binding and UMI as the publisher is usually enough to confirm you are dealing with a thesis. For a record to be an exact match, it must have a 533 field indicating that the item is a photocopy. Records describing the original thesis or a microform version of the original are not acceptable but can be printed as FYI.

Three other fields to be aware of are: 1) the field for call number (050 or 090) 2) the fields for subject headings (650, 653, 600) and 3) 500 or 505 information fields. While these fields are not needed for matching item to record, they can be important if you find more than one record for the same item. Let’s look at the record below.  

The first fields to check are the 245 (underlined in red) for the title and the 100 (underlined in pink) for the author. The 100 field can only have one name. Additional authors and editors’ names are placed in 700 fields. Be sure you get this information from the title page if there is one. Notice in the 245 field that the main title is Esperar sin Esperanza. The delimiter b| in the 245 indicates the beginning of the subtitle.

Next you want to verify the page numbering in the 300 field and check the publisher information in the 260 field. Note that place of publication, name of publisher and year of publication/copyright must all match.

There is an edition statement in the 250 field (not always present). You would need to verify that the item you have in hand is the edition given in the bibliographic record (or vice versa).

This record has two fields that describe the series of which this item is a part. The 490 field describes exactly what is on the item you have in hand. Numbering in the series must also match. The 830 field is used to distinguish series if more than one has the same name. This may not match the record perfectly. For matching item to record, the 490 or 440 is the important field. Do not be concerned if the 830 does not match what you have on the book.

Another field that can be used for matching is the 020. This is the field for the ISBN(s). ISBNs are not always reliable for matching. The ISBN should never be the primary way in which you match item to record.


Choosing the Best OCLC Record

There are four possible outcomes from searching OCLC:

  • You find only one OCLC record which matches the item in hand.
  • You find multiple OCLC records for the same item all of which appear to match the item in hand.
  • You find no record in OCLC that matches the item in hand. The instructions below describe what to do in each case.
  • You find an ambiguous match in OCLC, e. g. a serial record, n|, an add to an existing record, etc.

1) You find only one OCLC record which matches the item in hand.

Verify that the BLvl field is “m” and that the record says “NO HOLDINGS”.

Check the 100, 245, 250, 260, 300, 440/490/830 fields, when present, to verify that the item in hand matches the item described in the OCLC record.

At this point you will update holdings and export the record into Aleph (described later).

This is the simplest case and requires no further explanation.

2) You find multiple OCLC records which seem to match the item in hand.

Verify that the BLvl field is “m” and that the record says “NO HOLDINGS” on each record you examine.

Check the 100, 245, 250, 260, 300, 440/490 fields to verify that the item in hand matches the item described in the OCLC records.

Choose the best copy among those found (Described in Section 1).

3) No matching record is found in the OCLC database.

Described in Section 2


Section 1

Choosing Best Copy (In order from best copy to worst copy)

If more than one record satisfies all the elements listed above for matching OCLC copy to item in hand, follow the criteria below for choosing the best copy. The following instructions require that you check one of the fixed fields, Elvl and the variable field 040. The Elvl fixed field uses a code to indicate the quality of the record. The 040 variable field indicates the institution that created the record. Codes are used to designate institutions that contribute records. The two most important for you to know are DLC (very good) and UKM (not so good). DLC is the designation for the Library of Congress, UKM for the British Library.

TYPES OF OCLC RECORDS: There are four categories of OCLC records with which you need to be familiar:

Full Level DLC/DLC

How to identify DLC records: The 040 field says DLC/DLC. These are typically the best records. DLC/DLC means the Library of Congress created the record. Typically the Elvl field is blank. These are referred to as full level records. However, there are different types of DLC/DLC records, which are explained below.

Example of top portion of a full level (blank), DLD/DLC record:


If the 040 says DLC/DLC and the record has an enhancement level of Elvl 5 or Elvl 7,  typically some important piece of information on the record such as the call number or subject headings was not added. Even though these are less than perfect records, we prefer them to non-DLC shared records. The Elvl 5s and 7s are not, however, shelved with the DLC material.


Full Level DLC/DLC Equivalent Records (BIBCO records):

How to identify BIBCO records: The 040 field does not say DLC/DLC or DLc is not the only code present in the 040. The encoding level is usually Elvl 4 but may also be blank. The record has a 042 field with a code such as copycat, lcnccp or pcc. If a record meets all three criteria, it is considered to be equivalent to a full level DLC/DLC record. These records can be quite variable and do not always follow the description provided here. At first you may have to ask your supervisor questions about these records.

ELvl 8 records:

There are two types of Elvl 8 records:

 ELvl 8 records that have DLCin the 040 field typically do not have page numbers or other descriptive physical aspects of the item in the 300 field and occasionally the 260 field may be blank or lacking information. These records are also called CIPs. Library of Congress catalogers create these records prior to the actual publication of the item without having the item in hand. We consider these records to be equivalent to full level, DLC/DLC records and should be preferred. Sort as such DLD/DLC. These records are not encountered often.

ELvl 8 records that have UKMin the 040 field are treated differently from CIP records. These records are from the British National Library (hence, UKM). The British typically use an estimate of the number of pages that is often incorrect. Other information may also be missing or inaccurate. Unlike Elvl 8 DLC records, these records are not considered particularly good records. They vary greatly in quality. This is one instance where it is acceptable to bring in a record when the pagination is off by more than a few pages if it is the only record available. You will probably have to ask a lot of questions about this type of record. When sorting, consider these to be shared records.


Shared Records

A typical shared record will have an enhancement level of Elvl I, M, K; L, J or 3. These are listed in descending order of quality. In other words, if your choices are Elvl I or Elvl M, chose I in most cases (but there are exceptions). The tag for the call number field is usually 090 but the call number may also be in an 050.

Shared records can be the most difficult records to search in that you must use your best judgment to determine which record is best and this takes some experience. You will probably need to ask questions at first.

You cannot use the ELvl codes unthinkingly in deciding which record is the best. If all of the information in each matching record matches the item in hand, the following list gives you some idea of other important information to look for when comparing records.

1) Does one of the records have a usable call number (050 or 090)?

2) Are there more subject headings in English (6xx fields, such as 650_ 0) in one record vs. another?

3) Is there a 505 field or a 500 field that provides more information about the item? 5xx fields are informational fields.

If the only record available is a shared record, with one exception, you will typically bring in that record even if it is not particularly good. The on exception is the Elvl 3 records. These began appearing recently in OCLC and are considered so bad that we never bring them into our catalog. If you encounter an Elvl 3 record, print a copy of the record, fold it and insert it in the book. Consider it 0-OCLC.



Section 2

Procedure for 0-OCLC Material

If no record is found in OCLC that matches the item in hand, the item is typically referred to as 0-OCLC. The procedure for dealing with 0-OCLC material differs depending on whether you are OVERLAYING a temporary record or a creating a NEW record.

Before you decide an item is 0-OCLC, you should attempt three searches in the following order:

  • Key word with title (or title and author for common titles – skip (2) in that case). Be sure to search all possible titles. Remember it is not always immediately obvious what the main title of an item is.
  • Key word with title and author
  • Sometimes combining publisher or publisher location with title is helpful, especially with African material published by government and NGOs
  • ISBN

Overlays and new records have different procedures for dealing with 0-OCLC material.

If the item is an OVERLAY, it should already have a system number and a provisional record in Aleph. If an OVERLAY is 0-OCLC, see below.

If the item is new (no temporary record), go here.

Put a 0-OCLC slip in the item. Be sure it is clearly visible. Write the location (where it is to go) at the top of the slip. Put your initials and the date on the slip.

Even when a record is 0-OCLC, you may find copy that is a near match to the item in hand. This copy may be useful to the person cataloging the item. In this case, print the OCLC copy and write FYI (For Your Information) in large print. Insert this OCLC copy in the item with the 0-OCLC slip on top.

ALT P will record your statistics for this search and add a 599 field with: “Searched by <your initials> <date>.


If the item is NEW, it will not have a record in Aleph and, hence, no a system number. You will have to create a simple provisional record in Aleph. If a NEW record is 0-OCLC do the following:

Create a provisional in Aleph. You do this by opening the Cataloging module in Aleph and clicking on the template icon in the tool bar:


Then, choose a template from the list. The templates listed may not be the ones you will use.

Click OPEN and fill in the required fields, marked arrows:

Use Alt P to record your statistics and to add your initials and the date.

Save to the server using this button on the tool bar:

Creating an Item Record

Whenever you create a provisional record or bring in a new record from OCLC (not an overlay), you will need to create an item record. Click on the Item Tab:

The Item Module will open. The Item List box should be empty as shown below. If it is not blank, let your supervisor know. Your supervisor can then show you how to distinguish whether the record you are using has been fully cataloged, i.e. the item in hand is an added copy.

Click the New button (circled – sort of) to create a new item record. Note also that the system number is given above the item list box. It says BIB= then the number. Also to the right of the system number is the title. It is always a good idea to check this before you proceed. If a different tile is displayed above, you will link the item you are creating to the wrong bib record.

When you click New, the bottom frame, consisting of a series of tabs, will become active.

You only need to fill in the five text boxes circled in the second tab as follows:

  • In the text boxes called Sublibrary and Collection you enter the name of the library where the item will be kept. Your supervisor will explain how to obtain location information.
  • In the box called Material Type you will always choose “BOOK” from the drop down menu.
  • In the text box called Item Status the code “01” is used most of the time, but the code can vary for some types of material. A list should be posted in your work area listing the default Item Status codes for various locations.
  • In the box called Item Process Status you always select the code “CT” from the drop down menu.

The item tab should look something like this:

Click the “ADD” button and the item will now appear in the item list as shown below.

After creating the item record:

1) Put a 0-OCLC slip in the item. Be sure it is clearly visible. Write the location (where it is to go) and the system number at the top of the slip. Put your initials and the date on the slip.

2) Even when a record is 0-OCLC, you may find copy that is a near match to the item in hand. This copy may be useful to the person cataloging the item. In this case, print the OCLC copy and write FYI (For Your Information) in large print. Insert this OCLC copy in the item with the 0-OCLC slip on top.



Bringing an OCLC Record into Aleph Using Connexion

Section 1


This section assumes that you have confirmed that you have an exact match between an OCLC record and the item in hand.

Update the OCLC record. You do this by clicking the “update holdings” button at the top of the Connexion window.

Print the OCLC record by clicking on the print button at the top of the Connexion window.

Export the record by clicking on the export button at the top of the Connexion window. After export, you should see a message like this:

Finally before you close the OCLC record in Connexion, use CTRL T to copy the OCLC number (you can also copy it manually by highlighting and using CTRL C).



Fold the OCLC record you printed in half lengthwise.

Write your initials and the date at the top of the printed OCLC record.

Insert in item with the list of fields facing toward the front cover (wrap it with a rubber band if a video, DVD, CD-ROM, volume set or multiple copies).

Section 2


This section assumes that you have confirmed that you have an exact match between an OCLC record and the item in hand.

There is an additional step if you are overlaying a provisional record. From the provisional record you found in Aleph, you need to copy the Aleph system number (also called the control number). The system number is found in an 001 field in the Aleph record. If the system number is not present, save the Aleph record to the server. The 001 with the system number will now appear in the record. Copy the system number by highlighting it from right to left and press CTRL C. DO NOT TYPE THE SYSTEM NUNMBER IN THE OCLC RECORD! There is a greater chance of making a mistake when typing the number, and unfortunate consequences result from such a mistake.

In the OCLC record in Connexion add a 599 field and paste the system number. To do this: Place the cursor at the end of any line in the OCLC record. Press <ENTER>. Follow these key strokes: 599 <SPACE> <SPACE> CTRL V. It should look like this example:

Update the OCLC record. You do this by clicking the “update holdings” button at the top of the Connexion window.

Note that when overlaying a record you do not need to create an item record in most cases. However, always check to verify that there is one. If there is not an item record, notify your supervisor.

Print the OCLC record by clicking on the print button at the top of the Connexion window.

Export the record by clicking on the export button at the top of the Connexion window.

After export, you should see a message like this:

Before you close the OCLC record in Connexion, manually copy the system number (without the “UFU01.”). It will be much easier to find the record you just exported if you search by system number. Aleph can be slow to index titles, but indexes numerical fields almost immediately. You can also copy the OCLC number and search by that in Aleph; however, a system number search is easier and faster.

Fold the OCLC record you printed in half lengthwise.

Write your initials and the date at the top of the printed OCLC record.

Insert in the item with the list of fields facing toward the front cover (wrap it with a rubber band if a video, DVD, CD-ROM, volume set or multiple copies).

Searching in Aleph by system number and OCLC number

Section 3

Searching in Aleph by System Number and OCLC Number

To search by system number simply paste or type the system number as shown below:

The system number is in the text box with the rectangle around it. This text box is used to only for searching system numbers. Just click on the arrow button next to the text box to launch the search. Although this example is taken from the cataloging tab (far left), it can be used from any tab since it is part of the toolbars.

Searching by OCLC number is simple but can only be done from the search tab.

  • Go to the search tab (far right tab in left pane)
  • Click on FIND (this is also where you would do a keyword search)
  • Click on the Multi-field Search
  • Paste or type in number

After verifying that the full OCLC record was imported into Aleph correctly, you can move on to the next book. Your supervisor will explain where to put the books after you are finished searching.



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