Baker & Taylor has developed a new cataloging service called BTCat which has been available since 2021 and was officially launched at the Public Library Association conference in March 2022. BTCat offers a full-featured cataloging service including a large-scale database of bibliographic records and a sophisticated interface. Libraries can also purchase professional services for custom projects.
Built on experience with Cataloging and Technical Processing services
Baker & Taylor has a long history of providing outsourced processing services for libraries. Its Customized Library Services, including highly customized cataloging and physical processing has been adopted by about 400 libraries. This service delivers complete MARC records for each item. More than 1,200 libraries take advantage of the company's Technical Express services, providing some level of physical processing for materials, often including spine labels with assigned call numbers.
In support of these services, Baker & Taylor operates one of the largest technical services teams, including over 150 catalogers. The company also owns and collaborates with CollectionHQ, which specializes in collection analytics and optimization.
Based on new Technical Infrastructure
This new service leverages the infrastructure and experience that Baker & Taylor has amassed through the shelf-ready and outsourced technical services it has offered libraries for many years. Through about 2019, the company relied on a customized implementation of Carl.Solution from The Library Corporation to support its cataloging operations. (See: TLC and Baker and Taylor continue partnership through selection of CARL.X and Baker and Taylor implementation of CARL.X complete
For the last three years, Baker & Taylor has been developing its own infrastructure to support its internal cataloging work, which is now also being offered to libraries as a comprehensive cataloging solution. This new environment is based on Microsoft Azure technologies and is entirely cloud based. The development of a this new platform gives Baker & Taylor more control within this critical aspect of its business relative to continued reliance on a product provided through another vendor.
BTCat makes use of the database of MARC records produced through its cataloging efforts for its customers spanning multiple decades. This database currently holds over 60 million records, with a very low rate of duplication. These records have been created by primarily by Baker & Taylor personnel and are not derived from external bibliographic services. Libraries can also contribute records to the database.
Cataloging Utility Interface
A web-based interface provides library catalogers with a sophisticates set of tools for selecting, editing, and importing MARC records.
The interface presents a search interface as a starting point for catalogers, accepting queries by ISBN, author, title, and other keywords. BTCat can search multiple sources of bibliographic records:
- BTCAT Community: the repository of records maintained by Baker & Taylor, consisting primarily of records it created, supplemented by community contributions.
- Local Workspace: a set of records saved by the institution, including items currently in process or in review that have not completed
- API search: queries conducted through the APIs of supported ILS systems. BTCAT supports three APIs: Search, Bib, and Item for complete interoperability with an ILS. Products with fully addressable APIs include SirsiDynix Symphony and Horizon, Innovative's Sierra. Polaris currently supports the Search API. Conversations are underway with developers and vendors of other systems for API support.
- Z39.50: Libraries can define additional sources using the Z39.50 search and retrieval protocol.
BTCat is offered in multiple configurations, with different cost levels. Libraries, for example, may choose to license the BTCat utility with or without the BTCat Community bibliographic repository.
Once the cataloger initiates a search, the results are presented in tabular form, designed to assist in selecting the best record. Under the best record column, a green dot indicates well-qualified matches, yellow showing records with weaker match points, and red for those that match in some way but are not good candidates. The algorithm for setting the criteria for best records can be customized for each library using BTCat. Other columns denote the fields that match the query, the source of the record, publication data, ISBN, Encoding Level, author, and title.
Catalogers can select one or more records. When multiple records are selected, they can be viewed in parallel, allowing the cataloger to compare their completeness, and merge selected or all non-redundant fields into a finished record.
BTCat includes a full-featured record editor to modify or create MARC records. The editor supports all languages and character sets. The editor includes workflow tips, called Intellisense, to guide a cataloger through the MARC tags and indicators to improve efficiency and accuracy.
BTCat provides support for macros, which combine multiple tasks into automated actions that can dramatically reduce the effort to make updates to individual records or sets of records. A set of commonly used macros are provided with the product by default and catalogers can define as many additional macros as needed. Multiple macros can be stacked together to perform systematic changes for records a library requires before they are added to the local catalog. The platform provides customizable folders to organize records according to workflow processes. Macros can be executed in batch across all records residing in a specified folder.
Libraries that use Baker & Taylor Title Source 360 for acquiring materials and BTCat for cataloging, can have records for new items automatically deposited in a folder. BTCat is not otherwise linked to Title Source and can be used to process records regardless of the supplier of materials or catalog records.
A notes feature can be used to delegate tasks to other staff members and to set the status of the activity.
Once records have been finalized through BTCat, they can then be exported into a file of MARC records for import into the library's integrated library system. Individual records can also be directly loaded into the ILS if it supports the Bib and Item APIs.
In addition to the catalog utility interface and bibliographic database, Baker & Taylor offers professional services for ongoing technical processing, as well as custom projects such as processing library bibliographic databases for RDA cleanup, enriching records with table of contents, and systematically adjusting bibliographic and authority records to conform to more appropriate headings and vocabulary for diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
BTCat has been developed primarily for public libraries. The product emerged through the experience Baker & Taylor has amassed through providing a broad set of services for public libraries across multiple decades. The service will also be offered to academic libraries, which are of increasing interest to Baker & Taylor across all its product lines.
Baker & Taylor reports that to date BTCat has been licensed to 24 organizations, including consortia, spanning over 255 individual libraries.
Baker & Taylor company background
Baker & Taylor is owned by an investment group led by its CEO Aman Kochar. In November 2021, the business was divested by Follett Corporation which acquired it in April 2016.
The Dec 2021 issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter included coverage of this transition in ownership.
Baker & Taylor, a major distributor of print and ebooks to libraries has changed ownership. The company has separated from Follett Corporation and has been acquired by a group of private investors led by President and Chief Executive Officer Amandeep Kochar. The composition of the investment group has not been publicly disclosed.
Baker & Taylor was acquired by Follett Corporation in April 2016. At that time, the company was estimated to bring in about $1 billion in annual revenue. (Press releases in 2016 stated that Follett was a $2.6 billion company and by 2017, following the acquisition, the stated figure was $3.6 billion.3) Under Follett Corporation, Baker & Taylor made some significant changes in its business strategies, shifting its business to focus as a supplier of books to libraries. In May 2019 the company discontinued its position as a wholesale distributor of books to retail bookstores to concentrate on its role as a supplier of books to public libraries. In October 2020, Baker & Taylor announced its reentry as a distributor of books and ebooks to academic libraries.