Tip #146: Content Notes and Summaries

Enhancing a record by adding contents (505 field) and/or a summary (520 field) will help keep your patrons happy. Library users like being able to learn something about a resource other than just title and subject headings when browsing the OPAC, and the keywords provided in these fields ensures that the item will be included in their search results.

Always add a 505 for a collection of works unless the information is found elsewhere in the record. Adding the contents of a do-it-yourself, medical, or crafts book may be the only way your patron can find the resource he/she needs.

Adding a contents note is easy. Use 0 (zero) for the first indicator and separate each contents heading with a space-dash-dash-space. Use the same punctuation rules as for the title proper (generally only capitalize the first word and proper names) and end the field with a period. If you’re listing essays or stories written by different authors, separate the title from the author’s name with a space-forward slash-space.

505 0_ |a The hoof — The leg — Conformation — Farriery — Boots and wraps — Lameness — Joint disease — First aid — Resources.
505 0_ |a Introduction / Carol Serling — Curve / Loren D. Estleman — Reversal of fortune / Robert J. Serling — By the book / Nancy Holder — Earthfall / John Farris — Dead post bumper / Dean Wesley Smith.
505 0_ |a Bride on the loose — Same time, next year.

Try to take the time to add summaries whenever possible, especially on juvenile fiction. If you discover a variety of summary notes while merging, you can paste in more than one. The 520 field is repeatable, but only the first one appears in the OPAC view. All the 520 fields will be searchable.

A 520 summary note should contain a brief and objective summary of the content of the resource. If you come across a particularly wordy summary, you can edit it if you’d like, but remember to leave the important keywords. If the summary reads more like a magazine ad, you can delete some of the over-the-top flattering language, but leave the rest. If you copy a summary from someplace like Amazon, NoveList, or Publisher’s Weekly, remember to credit your source.

When merging, if the record you select as the lead record is missing one of these fields but a record being merged contains the information, take a minute to use the Flat-Text Editor to copy and paste the missing fields into the lead record.
Originally published on August 17, 2012.

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MARC Fields