Cataloging – Adding Bibliographic Records to the Catalog

The majority of the bibliographic records for your materials are already in the Balsam Consortium’s catalog. For those  that are not, there is a way to get almost all of the rest from other libraries.  This uses a library standard with the odd name of “Z39.50”.  This allows you to search for records from selected other libraries and to import them into our catalog.  You can then add your holdings to them. 

These instructions teach you just enough to  add records.  However first be aware of these points:

  • Before you use Z39.5, be sure that a bibliographic record is not already in the Balsam catalog. 
  • As you import new bibliographic records, you have the opportunity to make a great number of changes to the record.  Do not attempt to edit the record. Leave this for trained catalogers (Level’s 2 and 3 cataloging).  If you are not sure about records, contact Balsam support.


1.   Open the z39.50 screen from the “Cataloging” menu 

2. Set the Services to search

ALWAYS select “Local Catalog”, “Library of Congress” and “MaineCat”.  You can save these, and others, by choosing “Save as Default”


3.  Enter Search criteria in the “Query” section of the screen.  

Do it in this order:

  1. If the item in your hand has an ISBN number, search on that.
  2. If no ISBN, Search on the Title
  3. If no hits, search on the Author  (e.g. Patterson, James)

Put in the MINIMUM necessary to get results.  (The more criteria you enter, the FEWER results you will get)

4. Select the record to import

Look first at the “Service” (click on the word “Service” to sort by Service.  Click again to sort that column in reverse order).  If you see a service “native-evergreen-catalog” focus on that record first!).

Look next at the Title and Author.

Look next at the publication date

If you still have records left to choose, and you have no “native-evergreen-catalog” that look useful, choose, in order, from Library of Congress (“loc”), Infonet (Mainecat),


5. If you are not sure, Look at the record in MARC View.

Check for the above fields. Make sure that the Title (245 field),and  Author (100 field) matches.  If the item in your hand is part of a series, look for a 490 field.  Make sure there is no 856 field (these records are only for e-books. If you have a physical book in your hand, a record with an 856 field is not for you.)

Check as many records as you need to check to find the best fit.

If you still have more than one record to choose from, select the record with the most summary fields (500’s) and subject fields (600’s).


6.  Import the record

Select the “Import” button


7. Check the record one more time.

Once you have imported the record, you should check these fields:  Type (if you have a book, it should be “a”); Form (if you have a large print, it should be “d”); Audience (if you have childrens’ it should be “a”, or “b”, or “c” or “d”, or “j”); Language (Should be “Eng”); and Date1  (should match the date in the 260 field below).

At this point any editing is possible on the MARC record.  But Make no changes to the record.  Remember, the record you import will be available to every other library in the consortium.  Only trained catalogers should make edits to MARC Records.  All you are doing is selecting a record to use for your item.

If this record is not proper for you to use, Delete this record, and find a better fit.




1.  Do not use Z39.50 to import a new record until you are certain that a bibliographic record is not already in the Balsam catalog (make sure your search is set to cover all of “Balsam Libraries”)

2.  When using Z39.50, if you find a record that is in “native-evergreen-catalog” use that record (as long as it is meets other criteria)

3.  A good record for you is one that matches: A) Title, B) Author; C) Type of material.  And is “close enough” on D) Date; E) Publisher