Close Enough Records

Catalog Record Item Description

A bibliographic catalog record describes a specific format or version of an item so that it is distinct from other versions of the same title. The description includes (among other things):
  • Author or other person responsible for the work
  • Illustrator
  • Title
  • Publisher
  • Copyright date
  • Physical description
  • Edition
Ideally, it would be preferable to attach library holdings to bibliographic records that match all of the above elements exactly. Unfortunately, that could result in many seemingly duplicate records and confusion for the users. Therefore, OWWL allows volumes to be attached to "close enough" records.

Close enough records

A close enough record is one which captures the essence of the item in hand, but which may vary in minor details from the bibliographic description of the item. The primary objective is to get items on a catalog record that reflects the content of the item so that it is easy for patrons to find and get materials.
  • Attach to a close enough record when the difference has no impact on the content
  • Request a new record when the content is different

*Consult this flowchart for a visual reference*

Refer to the points below when determining what are differences are acceptable for attaching to close enough records.

Acceptable differences for book records

Books with the following differences in description can share records with regular editions in the catalog:
  • Book Club editions, even if size and page numbers differ
  • Children's library binding, regular binding, paperback, hardcover, reinforced binding (Turtleback, Pentworthy, FollettBound, etc.)
  • Trade Paperback with hardcover (fiction and popular nonfiction)
  • Book group editions (with discussion guides)
  • Classics titles for which there are a great many editions by different publishers (i.e. Great Expectations, East of Eden, Fahrenheit 451)
  • Reprinted edition (content remains the same from previous edition)
Critical factors which require separate records are:
  • The book is revised or updated (new edition)
  • Other works (such as a critical essay) are included
  • The illustrator is different
  • The editor is different
  • Abridged or unabridged version
  • Mass Market or pocket paperback
  • Large Print
  • Board books
  • Different accompanying material

Acceptable differences for audiobook records

Audiobooks with the following differences in description can share records in the catalog:
  • Library and Retail editions (even though these types have different ISBNs)
  • Different distributors/publisher (book publishers often release their own audiobook product and give rights to audiobook distributors to re-package and release the same work.)
  • Playing time is slightly different (within 1 hour)
Critical factors which require separate records are:
  • Format (CD or cassette or MP3)
    • When a package includes a CD and MP3-CD separate the discs, create a new case for one disc, and attach each disc to a format-specific record
  • Abridged or unabridged
  • Narrator
  • Number of discs is different

Acceptable differences in video recordings

Video recordings with the following differences in description can share records in the catalog:
  • ISBN or UPC (different numbers are assigned by different distributors, etc.)
  • Distributor
  • Publisher number
  • Release date

Critical factors which require separate records are:
  • DVD versus Blu-ray or other format [note: VHS only cataloged if local history item]
  • Widescreen versus full screen
    • When a package includes separate discs for widescreen version and the full screen version, separate the discs, create a new case for one disc, and attach each disc to a format-specific record
  • DVD versus Blu-ray versus 4K-UHD
    • When a package includes a regular DVD and a Blu-ray disc (or 4K-UHD disc), separate the discs, create a new case for one disc, and attach each disc to a format-specific record
    • NOTE: Blu-ray and 4K-UHD discs require specific equipment to play so they need their own records
  • Number of discs
  • Different actors or directors
  • The video is a special (or anniversary, collectors, etc.) edition with significant extra features. If extra features are not significant, a note can be added to the existing record that some copies contain extra features. The library should then add that information in their Item Record under Item Notes.

Request to add an ISBN to the Catalog Record

If you add a paperback to a hardcover record, or vice versa, submit a request to have the new ISBN or UPC added to the record. This makes it easier for later libraries to search for and attach their items to the record.

On the spot catalog maintenance

If during the process of searching and adding your holdings you find records for titles that you think could be merged, email this information to

Request a new record to be added to the catalog

For many items (often brand new books or other unique materials) there will be no "close enough" match.

ALERT! These items need their own record. See: Catalog Request New Title Records

Acceptable catalog differences in the scheme of things

Searching for records in the catalog is the first step of the attaching holdings process.
  • It determines what procedure you will use to attach your item
  • It helps ensure an accurate database
  • It helps patrons find materials
  • It helps patrons and staff place and receive holds easily efficiently

Get help with attaching holdings

See: Holdings Add Holdings for instructions.

Email with a question to open a help ticket.
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