Document Type



Fall 10-14-2022


e-books, classification, discoverable, MARC, monographs




Library and Information Science


Call numbers play a central role in the ability of libraries to shelve books next to other books on the same or similar subject. With e-books making up an increasing proportion of library holdings, it is important that e-books can be e-shelved and discovered along with their print counterparts. At the start of 2021, e-books in the Cornell University Library Catalog did not have the same detailed classification numbers in their MARC records that print books receive. This hobbles attempts to make e-books available on virtual shelves for serendipitous discovery and to distinguish collections of e-books in related subjects like computer science (call number QA) and mathematics (call number QA) in library catalogs. In June 2021 we analyzed > 2 million library catalog records of e-books in our holdings and found large differences between publishers in the availability of detailed call numbers. In Fall 2021, further analysis revealed that our primary knowledge base vendor was the source of a large number of e-book records with incomplete classifications in our catalog. We thus approached our vendor and asked for improvement. Recently we repeated our analysis of the e-book records in our catalog. In this presentation we will reveal to what extent the vendor-provided records have improved from 2021 to 2022. We will also discuss how descriptive metadata for e-books is similar to and differs from that assigned to print resources, the dangers of relying solely on vendors for bibliographic description, and the need for collective action among libraries, publishers, and vendors to improve the metadata for e-books.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.