Bibliographic records of the Arabic Union Catalog are characterized by high quality as they conform to international standards in terms of automated processing and bibliographic information exchange, especially the following criteria and standards:
- Applying the latest edition of MARC 21 for automated cataloging regarding fields, indicators, and subfields of variable fields. Also, special attention has been drawn to fixed-length fields due to their high importance in the automated processing of bibliographic records, like creating indexes and sorting…etc, which catalogers usually neglect.
- In 2015, the RDA regulations were applied to authority records for personal names for the first time. In accordance with the RDA rules, the catalog gives special attention to Arabic names, particularly ancient ones. Consequently, the authority record for a given name has become a biographical record that covers most of the information about the life of a given author. A lot of effort has been invested into verifying and confirming the old authority entries from documented reference tools, such as al-Aʻlām by al-Ziriklī, in the index. It also creates a wide network of references in all different forms of writing the name (nicknames, titles, different spellings...) and spelling checks for all elements integrated into the authority record structure.
- After AACR2 ceased publishing and updating in 2016, the RDA rules were applied to the bibliographic level. AACR2 became unable to adapt to the evolving description environment and the diversity of different information resources. Using the Catalog portal, several models for cataloging were launched according to the new rules.
- Applying the latest AACR2 edition in formulating entries, printing spaces, and punctuation. The use of AACR2 in cataloging work should continue only with direct online recordings due to some libraries needing to utilize the updated description rules. Its use will be discontinued after the member transformation is completed.
- The Arabic cataloging guide application using Resource Description and Access (RDA) based on MARC 21, published by the Arab Union Catalog in 2015, is the first practical guide for cataloging using RDA rules tailored explicitly to Arabic catalogers, not simply a literal translation of RDA rules. Catalogers working in the field can easily understand the rules in this guide because it provides a technical understanding of the rules in an understandable manner. Furthermore, it references the rule numbers according to the primary source of the rules on its website. Various examples representing real-life Arabic reality are provided, and appendices assist with unifying the cataloging process across multiple entities. In addition, it clarifies the Arab catalog policies and technical practices while applying the RDA rules.
- The Arab Union Catalog regulations are being implemented for authority entries and Arabic books' specific features, such as the Hijri date. These regulations have been created based on global experiences, such as the Library of Congress experience and Arab experiences in descriptive and subject cataloging. In addition, they consider the characteristics of the Arabic book and language.
- Both bibliographic and authority levels are processed through three stages of technical quality processing.
- Bibliographic Level
Following a three-phased approach to bibliographic records processing, as follows:
At this point, the bibliographic records are adjusted per the rules and regulations approved by the catalog. Moreover, according to the rules of the RDA, it also considers the following when composing a bibliographic record:
- All data in the bibliographic record must comply with RDA rules and Arabic Catalog practices.
- Maintaining the title of the statement of responsibility in the bibliographic record, if they are included as part of the bibliographic record, in accordance with RDA guidelines.
- Ensure punctuation marks are used correctly in all bibliographic record fields as specified by RDA.
- In accordance with RDA rules and MARC21 standards, subfields must be separated by typographical spaces.
- Ensure that all bibliographic data is registered according to the MARC 21 standard and its technical updates as soon as they become available to ensure complete bibliographic data registration at the level of fields, indicators, subfields, and RDA rules.
- As part of the updates to MARC 21 fields to allow for more granularity in recording data, field 264, which contains information about the production, publication, distribution, manufacturing, and copyright, is going to be included as one of the required fields to deliver more detailed data following RDA guidelines. Further, as a technical practice for the Arabic catalog, the subfield $m for the Hijri date is also added as a specialized practice.
- A sign of the distinction between information resources is that each is characterized by a content type (336), a media type (337), and a carrier type (338).
- Provide standard access points and methods for maintaining relationships between titles and related titles to allow their correlation to be tracked. This is done using fields such as (7×× as authority fields, 5×× for notes, or 76× -78× as linking entry and description fields), as applicable.
- Provide a relationship label with appropriate standardized terms to describe Arabic sources.
- The Dewey Decimal Classification is used for classifying all bibliographic records in its Arabicized version, with the tag 082.
The next step is to review the application of RDA rules at the bibliographic and authority levels. Aside from this, it is equally important to ensure that the classification numbers, subject headings, and corresponding bibliographic records are also correct.
- Quality Assurance
At this stage, the bibliographic record is approved to ensure that the RDA rules are applied correctly, including any relationships that may be applicable.
- The Authority Level
The quality control process for authority records consists of two stages:
First step: establishing an authority record.
- Standardizing and formulating bibliographic entries according to the available RDA rules, guidelines, and the Arab Union Catalog practices.
- Making a comprehensive list of all branches associated with authority entries per the Library of Congress branches translated by the Arab Union Catalog Center.
- Keeping up with the practices used in these entries and ensuring they are developed following RDA rules and guidelines.
- Upgrade personal name entries to comply with the RDA rules and guidelines by converting all abbreviations to their full format.
Second step: Review and adjustment of the record.
As part of this process, it is crucial that all technical practices are applied throughout the catalog, that the data are accurate, and that authority entries are correct.
- The subject heading list aims to build an electronic reference file that would reflect the Arab and Islamic environment and culture using subject headings. It provides ongoing support to keep up with the latest developments, updates, and regulations in authority control. The goal is to provide complete authority records regarding references, relationships, and links to global authority files.