Library of Congress
Frequently Asked Questions

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updated April 22, 2004
  1. What is the name of the Library of Congress' new integrated library system?
  2. Will the Library of Congress continue to make its catalog available on the Internet?
  3. How can records in the LC Online Catalog be accessed via Z39.50?
  4. How can LC's authority data be accessed via the Internet?
  5. Have the delivery mechanisms, frequency, or content of the Library's bibliographic products changed as a result of the Library's ILS implementation?
  6. The Library of Congress modified its control number structure (LC control number or LCCN) after the year 2000 although this change was not directly related to the Library's implementation of its ILS. Please explain the re-structure of the LCCN.
  7. Will the Library of Congress continue to acquire JACKPHY (Japanese, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Persian, Hebrew and Yiddish) records, except serials and National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC), from Research Libraries Group (RLG) and re-distribute them via the same process as is used now? What about the CJK (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) records from OCLC for serials?
  8. Are Chinese language records in pinyin romanization available in the LC ILS?
  9. How does the Library of Congress accomplish global changes to MARC 21 records in its database? Are changed records re-distributed?
  10. Has the implementation of an ILS resulted in any changes for LC's inter-library loan (ILL) partners?
  11. Has the ILS implementation had an impact on LC's cataloging output?
  12. What is the Library's policy on Voyager-to-Voyager connections from external Voyager sites to the LC Database?
  13. What are LC's plans for the conversion of its integrated library management system to the Unicode standard?


  1. What is the name of the Library of Congress' integrated library system?

    The Library of Congress Integrated Library System or LC ILS is used to refer to the Library's entire integrated library management system. It encompasses the LC Database and other databases, such as the LCSH Master Database. The LC ILS is the larger entity, which runs on Voyager software, from Endeavor Information Systems, Inc. The LC ILS is encompasses all of the Library's bibliographic, acquisitions, and circulation data, as well as separate Voyager databases for the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLSBPH) and the Handbook of Latin American Studies (HLAS). The Library of Congress Database or LC Database contains 13 million bibliographic records, over 13 million holdings records, over 14 million item records, and approximately 6 million authority records, plus patron records and data for circulation and acquisitions transactions, vendor records, ledgers, funds, tables, keyword and other search indexes. The LC Database contains all the data needed to support the Library's basic operations. The Library of Congress Online Catalog or LC Online Catalog presents to users data from the LC Database about all items that LC has, had, or intends to acquire. The LC Online Catalog contains records for all formats and their associated holdings and item records, as well as references and scope notes from authority records. LC authority records can be accessed via the Web at authorities.loc.gov. (See question number 4 for more information about LC Authorities.) This legend is used in OPAC displays: Database Name: Library of Congress Online Catalog.

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  2. Will the Library of Congress continue to make its catalog available on the Internet?

    Yes, the Library of Congress Online Catalog is available at: http://catalog.loc.gov/. Additional information about the LC Online Catalog and how to use it is available at: http://catalog.loc.gov/help/faq.htm.

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  3. How can records in the LC Online Catalog be accessed via Z39.50?

    LC implemented the Web version of the LC Online Catalog on August 31, 1999. Z39.50 access is provided via the WWW/Z39.50 Gateway Homepage at: http://lcweb.loc.gov/z3950/gateway.html. Records retrieved from the LC Online Catalog via Z39.50 do not yet contain the full MARC 21 character set encodings for diacritics and many special characters. More information about Z39.50 access and configuration along with a list of the intersite searches that LC's Online Catalog supports is available at: http://lcweb.loc.gov/z3950/lcserver.html

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  4. How can LC's authority data be accessed via the Internet?

    Library of Congress authority records are available online on the Library's Web site at http://authorities.loc.gov. Known as Library of Congress Authorities, the free online service allows users to search, display and download name, subject and title authority records, (including series authority records) in the MARC 21 format for use in local library systems. LC made this feature available on July 1, 2002. Not included with this release are Z39.50 functionality; the full MARC 21 character set for display and download of authority data; and the approximately 2,300 subject subdivision records in the Library of Congress Subject Heading file. LC will collaborate with Endeavor Information Systems, Inc., our ILS vendor, to add Z39.50 functionality and these other features in a future release. LC is eager to hear from users of this feature. Please send comments to: [email protected] A PowerPoint presentation on LC Authorities on the Web is available at: http://lcweb.loc.gov/ils/ala02arv.ppt The Library's Cataloging Distribution Service (CDS) will continue to provide full MARC 21 authority records (new, updated, and deleted) through the MARC Distribution Services (http://www.loc.gov/cds/mds.html), which are used to update authority files in OCLC, RLIN and many other vendor services. Also available from CDS is a fee-based service called Classification Web (http://www.loc.gov/cds/classweb.html), which provides Web access to Library of Congress Classification and Library of Congress Subject Headings.

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  5. Have the delivery mechanisms, frequency, or content of the Library's bibliographic products changed as a result of the Library's ILS implementation?

    Generally speaking, Cataloging Distribution Service (CDS) delivery mechanisms and frequency of product distribution have not changed. In the future, CDS may identify improvements to their products based on the capabilities of our new system and will continue to give plenty of advance notice to their customers. The Library of Congress discontinued distribution of "in-process" records for books through the MARC Distribution Services (MDS) at the end of April, 2000. Beginning in May, 2000, current MDS subscribers for Books All, Books US, Books English, Books CJK, Books Arabic, and Books Hebrew stopped receiving in-process records, also known as "preliminary cataloging" or "encoding level 5 records". Although the number of records distributed in an in-process state diminished over the last several years, their distribution was discontinued because of procedural changes and recent workflow adjustments in the Library's allocation of cataloging resources. The change will not affect the ultimate quantity or quality of LC records distributed which represent completed cataloging. The one category of in-process book records that will continue to be distributed consists of in-process records supplied by the Library's overseas offices (field 042=lcode).

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  6. The Library of Congress modified its control number structure (LC control number or LCCN) in January, 2001, although this change was not directly related to the Library's implementation of its ILS. Please explain the re-structure of the LCCN.

    The LCCN retained the same 12-digit length in the re-structuring that expanded the year portion to four digits, reduced the prefix from three to two characters, and eliminated the supplement numbers. On January 1, 1999, in preparation for the re-structuring, LC discontinued use of the LCCN suffix/alphabetic identifier and revision date. More information about the re-structuring of the LCCN is available at: http://lcweb.loc.gov/marc/lccn.html.

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  7. Will the Library of Congress continue to acquire JACKPHY (Japanese, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Persian, Hebrew and Yiddish) records, except serials and National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC), from Research Libraries Group (RLG) and re-distribute them via the same process as is used now? What about the CJK (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) records from OCLC for serials?

    Yes, the Library's Cataloging Distribution Service (CDS) will continue to acquire records from RLG for JACKPHY language materials and the OCLC CJK records for serials and re-distribute them as usual.

  8. Are Chinese language records in pinyin romanization available in the LC ILS?

    Yes, all the Chinese language records in the LC Online Catalog have been converted to the pinyin system of romanization. The Library worked closely with the Research Libraries Group (RLG) and OCLC, Inc., on the conversion of systematically romanized Chinese language data from the Wade-Giles system of romanization to pinyin. OCLC converted 158,000 authority records according to specifications developed collaboratively by LC, OCLC, and RLG. The converted authority records were distributed at the end of September 2000 by CDS and are available in OCLC and RLIN. On October 1, 2000, the American library community, including LC, OCLC and RLG, began using pinyin as the standard romanization scheme for Chinese characters in bibliographic and authority records. RLG completed the conversion of 170,000 LC bibliographic records in January 2001. OCLC completed the conversion of all Chinese language CONSER records in May 2001, according to the same specifications. LC's converted bibliographic and authority records were made available to CDS customers via the regular distribution of products and services. A special one-time snapshot file of all converted name authority records is available from CDS. A full description of the Pinyin Conversion Project, including background documents, timeline, and FAQ, is available on the Pinyin Homepage.

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  9. How does the Library of Congress accomplish global changes to MARC 21 records in its database? Are changed records re-distributed?

    The Library utilizes a variety of tools to make global changes to MARC 21 records in its database and works closely with bibliographic utilities to maintain, improve, and share data. LC does not use the Voyager global heading change feature. Any records updated are re-distributed, as appropriate. CDS is aware that massive changes may affect the size of the distributed files and will alert its customers if there are significant changes in the size of the files.

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  10. Has the implementation of an ILS resulted in any changes for LC's inter-library loan (ILL) partners?

    No. Libraries may submit ILL requests to LC as before.

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  11. Has the ILS implementation had an impact on LC's cataloging output?

    ILS implementation affected our cataloging output beginning in 1999, when cataloging staff became members of the various teams set up to plan for implementing the ILS. The impact became noticeable in June, as more than 600 cataloging staff received training throughout the summer, and again in the months following the August 16 activation of the cataloging module, as staff learned the new system. The Library had prepared for a drop in production as part of its planning process. By March 2000, the Library's cataloging production began returning to a level comparable to the pre-implementation rate. Our strategy focuses on processing current receipts, including CIPs, to ensure that the highest priority and most widely held publications continue to receive timely cataloging. This means that during fiscal year 2000, and likely fiscal year 2001, we will not reduce our remaining older arrearages of materials at the pace that we have maintained over the previous several years. During the coming months, we will be examining ways to overcome the buildup of materials and to continue reduction of older arrearage items.

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  12. What is the Library's policy on Voyager-to-Voyager connections from external Voyager sites to the LC Database?

    Although the Voyager proprietary software allows direct connections between Voyager sites, it is the Library's policy that Voyager-to-Voyager connections from other Voyager sites will not be permitted. The Library of Congress Online Catalog is available to all users on a 24X7 basis. LC also provides free Z39.50 access to the LC Database for users on a 24X7 basis. LC has expanded access via the Web OPAC for external users. LC authority records are available on a 24X7 basis via LC Authorities, using a Web OPAC interface, at: authorities.loc.gov. The Library expects to be able to offer Z39.50 access to authority records in a future release. The Library has decided to allocate resources in support of its Web OPAC and its Z39.50 interface, an internationally accepted standard protocol, rather than support a proprietary interface available to a limited number of sites. Comments on the Library of Congress Online Catalog, LC Authorities, or LC's policy on Voyager-to-Voyager connections should be sent to: [email protected].

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  13. What are LC's plans for the conversion of its integrated library management system to the Unicode standard?

    In 2002, the Library began planning for its transition to the Unicode standard for LC MARC 21 bibliographic, holdings, and authority records. The Library currently plans to upgrade to the Voyager with Unicode Release in 2005. In January 2003, the Library's system vendor, Endeavor Information Systems, Inc., delivered the first test conversion to the Unicode character set of LC's database. LC's language experts and technical analysts are involved in testing and reviewing the Unicode conversion. Part of LC's planning effort will include the Cataloging Policy and Support Office's review of LC cataloging policies and workflows to fully implement the Unicode standard in future MARC bibliographic, authority, and holdings records. The Cataloging Distribution Service (CDS) will continue to provide MARC 21 bibliographic and authority records in MARC-8. Once the Library's data are converted to Unicode, CDS will offer records in UTF-8, as well as MARC-8. For the present, LC records will contain only those Unicode characters that are in the MARC 21 repertoire. LC's implementation of Unicode will provide users with the ability to save records in MARC-8 and UTF-8 from the LC Database via the LC Online Catalog (catalog.loc.gov) and LC Authorities (authorities.loc.gov). A PowerPoint presentation on the implementation of Unicode at the Library of Congress, is available at: www.loc.gov/ils.

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Library of Congress Help Desk ( 04/22/2004 )