This posting is being cross-posted to AUTOCAT, INTERCAT, and USMARC.
Please excuse multiple postings.
At the ALA meeting this summer, MARBI approved Proposal 97-3R
(Redefinition of Code "m": (Computer File) in Leader/06, with some
modifications. The changes to the _USMARC Format for Bibliographic
Data_ are published in Update no. 3 which is now available.
OCLC has been further investigating implementation issues related to
this MARBI update. We have had discussions with staff from various
local systems and consortia. Conversations with representatives of these
different systems indicate there are a number of implementation issues
to be ironed out. As a result, we have decided to update the OCLC
membership on our immediate plans, highlight some of the issues, and
recommend areas libraries might want to discuss their system vendors and
with members of their consortia.
There is a large amount of interest within the library community in
implementing the MARC format changes as soon as possible. OCLC has
received a number of user phone calls and email considering these
changes. Even though OCLC is investigating implementation issues,
actual implementation is some time off. Update 3 is only recently
available to everyone who needs to implement the changes. Update 3
contains a number of substantial changes, especially those related to
harmonizing the USMARC and CANMARC formats.
MARBI CHANGES: In summary, MARBI approved two changes. The first is to
the definition of code "m" (Computer Files) Leader/06 (Type of Record).
Only certain kinds of computer files and electronic resources will be
coded as "m". Others will be coded for their most significant aspect,
e.g., cartographic materials will be coded "e", textual monographic
materials will be coded as books, etc. The present rule to code all
electronic resources as computer files (Leader/06 "m") will be obsolete.
The same change is made to 006/00.
The second change MARBI approved is to make field 007 mandatory when the
main item described in a record has a carrier that is a computer file.
Field 006 is still optional in all situations. Field 007 is not
mandatory when only the accompanying material is a computer file or if
the record describes a non-electronic resource and points to its
electronic version in an 856 field. This last situation requires
changes to field 856 that were approved at the February 1997 MARBI
meeting (Proposal 97-1) which will also be described in Update no. 3.
In order to implement the changes, systems must support 007 input and
output, at least for the computer files version of field 007.
IMPACT ON CATALOGING. Except for changes to searching discussed later
in this document and the need to know field 007 for computer files and
when to use it, the impact on most catalogers is minimal. These USMARC
continue to divorce the format issues from the cataloging rules by
separating carrier and from content, but only for electronic resources.
Other materials have not been completely addressed. A broader
discussion of content vs. carrier in respect to the cataloging rules was
held at the JSC International Conference on the Principles and Future
Development of AACR2 in Toronto in October. Further investigations will
come out of the discussions at the conference.
CONVERSION OF EXISTING RECORDS. Existing records will not be coded the
same way as new records will be. For most systems, conversion of old
practices is not practical or possible with existing resources. In some
files, records may not be coded accurately enough to identify records
that are candidates for conversion. OCLC estimates that at least one
quarter of the computer file records in WorldCat are coded "other" or
"unknown" in 008/26 (Type of Computer File); 008/26 is the easiest means
by which to identify records that are candidates for conversion.
INDEXING. In order to index all electronic resources together, systems
must be able to identify them. An electronic resource can be identified
by Leader/06 (Type of Record), field 007, or field 006 (when byte 0 is
"m"). All three items must be indexed in the same index because users
searching for materials are not likely to know how the record is coded.
The distinctions are unimportant to them. Fields 006 and 007 can refer
to the carrier of the item or the carrier for a piece of the overall
item (such as accompanying material). What this means is that systems
must either change indexing rules or not index the electronic aspect of
an item wherever the "electronic-ness" is recorded in a record.
Decisions about which 007's to index and which index to put them in must
be made. Presently, in OCLC, fields 006 and Leader/06 are indexed in
the same index. OCLC does not index field 007.
DUPLICATE DETECTION. Duplicate detection will continue to be easy in
some systems, particularly those that acquire records from a single
source. For others, however, duplicate detection software which
compares data from various places in MARC records may need modification
to ensure that fields 007 and 856 are correctly considered. This is
true not only in those cases in which the goal is to keep records for
different media separate but also when the goal is to treat them as a
single record. Aspects of fields 007 and 856 may need to be factored
into matching algorithms, if they aren't already.
DUPLICATE RESOLUTION. Once duplicates are identified, some action is
generally required. Among the more common options are to update
holdings information, to merge selected bibliographic data from one
record to the other, to completely overlay one record with the other, or
to merge the records and retain all unique data. All of these scenarios
have different implications when merging records for disparate media or
records which describe multiple media. Software developers and
consortia need to address questions like--Should the record for the hard
copy be kept separate from the one for the electronic copy? Should the
record that combines the information about the hard copy and the
electronic resource replace the other two? How will the system indicate
which form or forms each location has access to?
HOLDINGS AND LOCATION INFORMATION. The amount of holdings information
stored and displayed in union catalogs varies widely from the most
simple (location identifier only) to full details, including bar code
and availability information. When the holdings display is able to
distinguish items (or parts of items) in electronic form from other
forms, system users can identify the copy they are interested in. Users
of databases that do not display detailed holdings data (such as
WorldCat), users will be unable to determine which location has access
to electronic resources and which to the non-electronic form. Service
to users may suffer from misdirected lending requests or delays to
Because of our concerns, LC will be issuing MARBI proposal 98-6
(Definition of value s for Electronic in 008/29 (Form of item) in Maps
and Visual Materials and 008/23 (Form of item) in Books, Music, Serials,
and Mixed Materials in the Bibliographic format) for discussion at ALA
OCLC will be investigating these issues and plans to issue guidelines to
users, networks, local systems, etc., by the end of the calendar year.
A full implementation, including indexing, duplicate detection changes,
etc., will follow much later, due to OCLC's present activities on
implementing Year 2000 changes, Batchload Redesign, etc. Meanwhile, we
recommend that libraries begin considering the impact of the changes and
what they want out of their system.
MARBI Proposal 97-3R is available through the USMARC home page at
The results of the MARBI decision are available at
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