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The USMARC Format for Bibliographic Data does not appear to make any clear
distinction between a call number and a classification number.  I would
define a call number as a systematic identification number, classification
number, etc. used by an agency to mark and identify the physical
component(s) of a bibliographic item in its collection, and such number
specifies a distinct location where the item is stored and can be retrived
for use.  It is a concept that applies whenever physical carriers (copies of
books, videotapes, sound cassettes, computer disks, etc.) are processed and
stored in the library's collection.  On the other hand, one or more
classification numbers may be associated with a bibliographic item as a
means of intellectual access without actually being a call number for the
physical carrier of the work in a particular collection.

This lack of distinction is a source of confusion in our local OPAC records
in particular for remote access computer files (e.g., WWW resources).  In
some cases, our public services librarians want to have a classification
number associated with a record for some remote computerized resource, but
our OPAC is programed to always display one such number on the record as our
"Call Number" (other class numbers, if they are present in the MARC record,
are not displayed at all).  Of course, the attribute of a Web resource that
is comparable to a call number is its URL.  When users see a "Call Number"
displayed on a record for a WWW resource, naturally they are likely to infer
that it denotes a place on a shelf where a physical item resides.

I wonder if anyone else has dealt with this problem in a satisfactory way.
How can the information about a classification number(s) for a bibliographic
item be conveyed to the user without suggesting that it is a call number
when it is not a true call number?  Are there any OPACs or local procedures,
etc. that are able to deal with this confusion in the absence of coding in
the MARC record?

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 Lowell Ashley                                   Voice: (540)231-9251
 Principal Cataloger                             Fax: (540)231-3694
 University Libraries
 Va. Polytechnic Institute & State Univ.
 P.O. Box 90001
 Blacksburg, VA 24062-9001                    E-mail:  [log in to unmask]
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