Zephir, the HathiTrust bibliographic metadata management system, is managed by CDL’s Discovery & Delivery team. In this advice column, Barbara Cormack, the metadata analyst for Zephir, answers common questions for contributing records to Zephir. While these questions were written by fictitious authors, you are welcome to submit your questions to Zephir (email: zephir-help@ucop.edu).

Dear Zephir,
I submitted an update to one of our bibliographic records in HathiTrust with improved, fuller metadata but it’s not showing up in the catalog. What’s going on?

    – Confused Cataloger

Dear Confused,
This does happen sometimes and it is frustrating, especially when you’ve gone to the trouble of upgrading your record and submitting it to Zephir. The most common reason this happens is that your bibliographic record is not the preferred record for the cluster it belongs to. When contributors submit records to Zephir, the system groups them together, or clusters them, using match points such as an OCLC number. When the records are ready to be exported from Zephir to the HathiTrust catalog, one bibliographic record is selected to represent all of the digital content in the cluster. We call this the “preferred record.” If your record, even with its updates, isn’t selected to be the preferred record, it won’t show up in the HT catalog. I hope this helps explain things!

Dear Zephir,
Thanks for explaining “preferred records” to me. But I’m still wondering how one record gets preferred over another in a cluster of multiple records. Why didn’t my improved cataloging with the latest metadata from OCLC get selected as the preferred record?

    – Still Confused

Dear Still Confused,
Here’s the thing. When records are ingested in Zephir, they’re assigned a numerical score. The scoring algorithm is rather basic and does not evaluate the contents or quality of metadata, only the presence or absence of certain MARC fields. For example, it does not take subject fields into account. So it’s possible that records of differing levels of quality or completeness may be assigned similar scores. The scores are used in the selection of the preferred record for export to HathiTrust, so this may explain why your record was not chosen as the preferred one for its cluster. Sorry about that!

Dear Zephir,
I understand your explanations, but here’s a similar dilemma: I recently submitted to Zephir an update to another one of my library’s records. I had noticed that the version in the HT catalog was out of date and not very full so I re-cataloged it and sent in a new version. But the new record is not showing up! The old version is still displaying: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/010086025. I think ours is the only volume. How do you explain this?

    – Now Baffled

Dear Now Baffled,
I took a look at your record and I see the culprit. Your record has been shadowed. This is a special procedure that Zephir uses to adjust a record in the database, most often to close an in-copyright volume that is inappropriately open to full view. The shadow version of the record covers or “shadows” the original version of the record and any subsequent versions that may have been submitted. If the shadow is removed, the record will revert to its original version, or the most recent version that has been submitted. You can identify a record that’s been shadowed by viewing it in its MARC format version - use the handy button below the list of volumes. Then look for a COM (comment) field that says something like “This record was modified to resolve an incorrect bibliographically determined rights status, to include a new OCLC number, or to otherwise address or update incorrect or incomplete metadata.” (The text has varied over time but it will be similar to this.) You can contact the HT Support Desk to see if getting this record unshadowed is the correct action to take. Good catch!