MARC data for open source pressbooks?

Pressbooks people,

I work at Concordia University St. Paul in the library. One of my colleagues found an open source pressbook textbook that one of our faculty would like to use in her class:

I noticed that there is a MARC metadata record available for this work which one can get though oclc (you can see it displaying data here:

I am wondering if there is one place where I might be able to locate a file of Pressbooks MARC records like this for other OER textbooks (much like what is offered from eBooks Minnesota). Or if this might be planned for the future…

Thank you,

Hi @Nathan_Rinne – great question. We’d love to be able to produce MARC records for books published in Pressbooks one day. This has been a longstanding personal interest of mine; see for more details. @hrwheeler I believe that many of the existing MARC records for books published with Pressbooks have either been made manually (as in the case of the MARC records for books in the BCcampus collection: or were made as part of the MARC record generation process overseen by the Open Textbook Library with major assistance from Colorado State University (see + @klaurits will know much more about that than I do.

At MHCC we have been cataloging our books published in Pressbooks through our ILS and then exporting into .mrk files to make available via the Back Matter of the book. Here’s an example from one of our books:
We catalog using an OER-specific MARC template that we have created. I think that any MARC records generated from Pressbooks would probably need some cataloger touching up, but it’s an interesting idea! That said, we still don’t see all the book metadata displaying (ex. Publication City), so it seems like there’s still work to be done before getting to that point.

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Thanks – it would be interesting to know how many of the Pressbooks that are currently available also have nice MARC records like the one I mentioned above.

Another thing to think about is that the library discovery systems (these used to be called library catalogs) that are developed by vendors like Ex Libris now have functionality where files with the downloaded records do not need to be uploaded and re-uploaded again and again (as there are updates with new records and improved records) by individual libraries but can rather be re-uploaded//updated in one place where other libraries can draw from that data.

Here is a screen shot of the inside of Ex Libris’s back office part of the system (called “Alma”): The pic actually shows records we uploaded into it from eBooks MN ourselves from the free MARC records they offer as a download file.

You can also see in the picture that in this case, the Electronic Collection is shown on the page with the “institution” tab. If the eBooks MN records could be uploaded into the system (probably by the U of MN), they would go in the “Community” tab and libraries around the world could easily turn on all the records in the collection for their own institutions, making the books discoverable in their catalogs/discovery systems.

Thanks again for taking my question Steel!


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We offer Open Textbook Library MARC records for anyone (or any discovery system) that wants to use them:

To your note, Nathan, I just heard from Rose McLendon at Ex Libris who will be ingesting them soon.

As Steel mentioned, these were first created with the team at Colorado State University, particularly Alicia Conrardy, who did a lot of the work by hand. While she continues to advise us, Andy Seroff, a UMN developer, created a system for real-time automatically generated MARC records that we’re using now.

The records aren’t perfect. We’re working on significant cleanup (both in terms of the OTL backend structure and in terms of cleaning up existing records) with additional guidance from OCLC. Our goal is to have OTL records in OCLC in 2020. I believe what’s there now was entered by a community member or volunteer, and I don’t think the collection is up to date.

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Thanks @klaurits. @Nathan_Rinne I realize I posted a link dump in the earlier posts (classic librarian move, right?), but one of the GitHub comments noted that

Andy Seroff at the University of Minnesota has used this ruby-marc library to generate MARC files for the books in the Open Textbook Library. According to Andy, their book data is stored in a relational database, and they have mapped their textbook fields to the related MARC fields (with varying levels of augmentation for converting into MARC format standards) so that creating the MARC file is just a matter of incrementing through our textbook records and generating a MARC record for each.

Andy has also created a small code sample with basic usage of the ruby-marc library here: I think in the hopes that it might be generalizable to other’s environments.

Thanks to all of you – greatly appreciated. At the moment, ilinks like the one @klaurits shared above are going to be most helpful to libraries like ours, not having the knowledge that Andy has or the know-how to utilize his good work. I hope this thread might be helpful to others though looking for creative and easier ways to make more of these sources more readily available.


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