Encoding Level

When records are loaded to the Central Catalog and matching records are detected, the system must choose between them. The system chooses the master record based on two criteria: the Encoding Level, which indicates the fullness of cataloging; and the Institutional Priority of the contributing library.

Encoding Level

When two matching records are found, the record that falls into the higher Encoding Group takes priority to become the master record. Encoding Group is based on a record's Encoding Level. The system checks only Encoding Level to determine fullness of cataloging. It does not compare the lengths of the records or analyze the presence or absence of any other variable or fixed-length fields.

Group 10 is top priority, reserved for Encoding Level "blank," full level cataloging from a national library. Group level 2, the lowest group, contains Encoding Level U (unknown) and Z (not applicable); these records are the least likely to become master records.

Encoding Group Encoding Level
10 blank — Full level (by authorized national bibliographic agencies and libraries)

Note: INN-Reach software incorrectly assigns blank to non-MARC records. See discussion about suppressing brief non-MARC records.
9 I — Full level input by an OCLC library
4 — Core level
8 1 — Full level, material not examined
7 L — Non-LC & non-NLM loaded from tape
6 K — Less than full input by an OCLC library
J — Record deleted by LC from MARC file
2 — Less than full level
M — Less than full level, tape loaded
5 8 — CIP prepublication data
4 5 — Partial level
7 — Minimal level
3 E — System-identified error in LC MARC record
W — Warning possible error in LC MARC record
3 — Abbreviated level
2 U — Unknown
Z — Not applicable


Institutional Priority

If matching records also have the same Encoding Group, the institutional priority is used to determine which library's record becomes the master record.

Priority 1: The libraries in this priority group maintain authority control on both LC and MeSH headings. In the interest of keeping as many access points as possible, their records are preferred over those of other libraries, if the Encoding Group is the same. Priority 1 libraries are:

  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Ohio State University
  • Ohio University
  • University of Cincinnati
  • Wright State University
  • Youngstown State University

Priority 2: The libraries in the second priority group use OCLC for ongoing cataloging. OCLC number will still be the preferred matching point, even when another matching algorithm is in use at the central site. Group 2 contains all OhioLINK member libraries that are not part of group 1 or 4.

Priority 3: Center for Research Libraries records. Priority 3 applies to records loaded by CRL (not to CRL records loaded at local catalogs and contributed from local sites).

Priority 4: Because their ongoing cataloging will lack OCLC numbers, and because CRL records do have OCLC numbers, records from libraries that do not use OCLC are at the lowest priority, below CRL records. Priority 4 libraries are:

  • Edison State Community College
  • Hocking College
  • Jefferson Technical College
  • Terra Community College
  • University of Northwestern Ohio
  • Washington State Community College


See also Determining the Master Record, Innovative Guide & Reference Release 2009A, Page # 103341.

March 1, 2002
updated October 2009