Sorry to take so long to respond to John Riemer's posting and the various
replies to PCCLIST on 856 fields in authority records. I wanted to poll our
Working Group on Cataloging, which meets once a month, on the issue. Here
is what we came up with:
At its September monthly meeting, Cornell University Library's Working Group
on Cataloging discussed MARBI Proposal 98-13 ("Defining Field 856 in the
USMARC Authority Format") and John Riemer's August 14 posting to PCC LIST.
In the MARBI proposal and John's posting, several questions were asked:
What kind of Internet sites should be recorded on authority records? When
does it make sense to add an 856 to a NAR, and when not? Is there an upper
limit to the number of 856s included on one record? What should the
maintenance policy be for such URLs? Is there any reason not to adopt 856
usage in NACO work?
In response to these questions, the group noted some reservations about
adding 856 fields to NARs. Some worried that URLs wouldn't be adequately
maintained, that many systems have no provisions for public display of such
information, that no NACO guidelines currently exist for the 856, and that
using 856 expands the function of the authority record in ways that
libraries "may not be ready to face."
Overall, however, the sense of the group was that adding field 856 to NARs
was a good idea, provided restrictions on its use could be articulated for
NACO contributors. It was felt that the 856 data, and the ability to link
to it, would be very useful for reference services staff and the public. It
was suggested that before implementation begins, that PCC consult with
public service librarians to see how their interests can best be served.
The group felt it would make sense to add 856 fields for the kind of sites
that have relatively stable Web addresses (e.g., educational institutions,
government agencies). The group generally agreed with John Riemer's
proposal that NACO adopt the use of 856 primarily for corporate names.
There was less agreement about the use of 856 in NARs for personal names.
Another point that was mentioned was the addition of URLs to field 670.
Some catalogers have seen URLs beginning to appear in field 670, and it was
agreed that URLs would be easier to control if everyone placed them in field
There was a strong sense that NACO guidelines on the use of the field should
be prepared. The guidelines should include not only instructions for what
kind of sites to include, but also a process for how, and who is responsible
for, maintaining URLs in NARs. Some wondered if there might be an automatic
process of some kind for maintaining URLs in the name authority file.
Head, Cataloging, Central Technical Services
110-D Olin Library
Ithaca NY 14853
E-mail: [log in to unmask]