A system can remove or display a slash between the title and statement of responsibility because it is adjacent to a subfield code (245 $c).  However, some ISBD punctuation does not currently correspond to subfield codes (e.g. semicolons between statements of responsibility).  In order for a system to insert punctuation, there needs to be something in the data to indicate where it goes.  In order for this to work properly, the proposed new subfields and other changes to the MARC bibliographic format would need to be approved and applied retrospectively to the data.


Christopher Thomas, M.L.S.| Electronic Resources and Metadata Librarian

(949) 824-7681 | fax (949) 824-6700 | [log in to unmask]

Law Library · University of California · Irvine



From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of McDonald, Stephen
Sent: Friday, May 5, 2017 5:35 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Removing Punctuation in MARC records (PCC ISBD and MARC Task Group Revised Final Report (2016): a timeline


The OPAC should in principle be able to insert any punctuation desired.  A display system could easily be programmed to add full ISBD punctuation, or to move pieces of metadata around and use a different set of punctuation.  Any decent programmer could write the logic necessary to create a full ISBD display within a few hours (the coding might take a few days, depending on what the legacy code looks like).  The technical ability to do this kind of text manipulation has been around since FORTRAN was a cool idea, and in fact most ILS systems already add and remove displayed metadata punctuation in certain circumstances  For instance, when an ILS displays the title on a line by itself, it manages to strip out the trailing slash.  It is only a matter of getting the ILS vendors to do the coding to handle MARC records without pre-existing ISBD punctuation.  Vendors have made software modifications to handle changes in the MARC standard before; this is just another case where they would have to make some modifications.


Now, getting vendors to actually do the coding, testing, and deployment, in the midst of their other development work, will take some time.  But it is not a technically difficult issue.  That’s why communication with vendors is part of the plan and timeline.


                                                                                Steve McDonald

                                                                                [log in to unmask]



From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Gene Fieg
Sent: Tuesday, May 2, 2017 6:03 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Removing Punctuation in MARC records (PCC ISBD and MARC Task Group Revised Final Report (2016): a timeline


Catalogers, yes.


How about users, of the opac, where the results of one's cataloging is displayed?




On Tue, May 2, 2017 at 2:33 PM, Benjamin A Abrahamse <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Apologies for accidentally hitting send too soon. Last sentence should read:


“The notion that it was written by people who don’t understand how an ILS works is not really correct.”



Benjamin Abrahamse

Cataloging Coordinator

Acquisitions & Discovery Enhancement

MIT Libraries




From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Gene Fieg
Sent: Tuesday, May 02, 2017 5:03 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Removing Punctuation in MARC records (PCC ISBD and MARC Task Group Revised Final Report (2016): a timeline


Who is Mike?


Anyway, I don't know how many soapboxes I want to get onto and which one I should choose first.


First of all, it sounds like the fulfillment of relieving the agony of those who took cataloging back in the 1970s: Geez, why do we have do all that weird punctuation.  So now we get rid of it and everyone is happy!  (Really??)

Actually MARC/ISBD punctuation fulfills exactly what the presentation of the record is: in sentence form.  And sentences need punctuation.  What has happened here is the atomization of data strings into data bits.

For instance what used to be New York : Harper, 1960 now becomes:

New York




Getting rid of punctuation may also be a reflection of carelessness of some groups of writing or speaking.

I am on an editorial board of a journal, and outside of sportscasters, librarians are the next group where lack of knowledge of punctuation and its function(s) is most prevalent.


Which brings me to another point.  Before PCC went about making a report suggesting the omission of punctuation, it should have first consulted the those who have to code the data in ILSs.  Coding isn't simply writing strings; it is writing with logic built in.  All that punctuation is functional:

/ = first statement of responsibility

; = secondary statement(s) of responsibility. 

Hence: Huckleberry Finn / von Mark Twain ; translated by Hugo Zweig

New construction proposal: Huckleberry von Mark Twain translated by Hugo Zweig.


Which one would be easier for one doing the coding?  The one with logic or the one without?

Perhaps, the PCC committee did consult first with those who write code.  But if they didn't, they should have.


About atomization of data strings: We should keep them whole.

One of the worst examples of misunderstanding of what a cataloging record is and what cataloging is the product right out of OCLC: WMS.  For instance, WorldCat presents "Description" begins with the 260 field.  It actually, as everyone should know, begins with the 245 field.  Call numbers are not linked so that patron can create a virtual shelflist.  There may be others, such as added entries.


Before we omit punctuation or rewrite the code, we again we should get back to user studies.  What aspects of the the electronic catalog do the patrons like?  Which ones can we make obviously available (virtual shelflist, added entries, etc.)


Anyway, enough soapbox stuff.  I have the feeling that PCC has put the cart before the horse.


Gene Fieg






On Tue, May 2, 2017 at 10:08 AM, Prochazka,David <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Here it is, Mike.




From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Beacom, Matthew
Sent: Monday, May 01, 2017 4:31 PM

To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [PCCLIST] Removing Punctuation in MARC records (PCC ISBD and MARC Task Group Revised Final Report (2016): a timeline


Hi all,


The attached is a brief rationale and a timeline for implementing the recommendations of the PCC ISBD and MARC Task Group (Revised Final Report 2016).


The Task Group recommendation is at https://www.loc.gov/aba/pcc/documents/isbdmarc2016.pdf


Here, in the body of this message, is the text of the attached, the rationale and the timeline for action.



A fuller rationale for removing ISBD punctuation from MARC records is in the report of the PCC ISBD and MARC Task Group Final Report (2016). In brief, the rationale for removing the ISBD punctuation is that since the ISBD punctuation was designed for the card catalog format, it is now an unnecessary burden within MARC; and that, as we prepare for a post-MARC bibliographic environment, the ISBD punctuation is a hindrance to that transition. 


The argument against making the change is a pragmatic one that combines concerns about timing—doing this just at MARC’s ‘end-of-life’ moment—and the potential for labor-intensive disruption in that time. In 2014, it was thought that the impact of the change on our systems before the anticipated migration to linked data and BIBFRAME in 3-5 years would be a double whammy that should be avoided, and we hoped removing the ISBD punctuation could be handled on the conversion of our MARC data to BIBFRAME.  But in 2017, the anticipated migration seems at least as far off as it did in 2014: a sure sign that imminence was over-predicted. 


Removing the ISBD punctuation would improve MARC as a format for bibliographic data for the duration of the MARC format’s use. As noted above, the use of MARC can be reasonably expected to continue far longer than some anticipated in 2014. The benefits of removing ISBD punctuation from MARC records include:


MARC coding can be used alone to designate parts of the bibliographic description, eliminating the redundancy of parallel input of punctuation and MARC coding. Eliminating most punctuation from MARC records simplifies data entry and allows catalogers to focus solely on coding to better identify parts of the bibliographic description. It also allows for flexibility in the design of online displays without the need for suppressing punctuation. Omission of ISBD punctuation in MARC records is routine in other MARC formats used around the world.


MARC 21 will be around for many years with millions of additional records created as libraries slowly move to working with BIBFRAME. With a transition to BIBFRAME, local systems and bibliographic utilities will need the ability to readily map data back and forth, i.e., BIBFRAME to MARC and MARC to BIBFRAME. Those mapping programs would be greatly simplified and more easily maintained if punctuation did not have to be added or removed at the same time. Developing programs now to remove punctuation from MARC 21 will facilitate a transition to BIBFRAME in the future.


1.       TIMELINE: new start date set to Jan. 1, 2018 for going live with the permission to not use ISBD punctuation; 9-10 months to prepare and adapt.

a.       Phase 1: Now to ALA Annual 2017:  Make and distribute record sets for initial preparation testing for impact in local systems, etc.

b.       Phase 2: July 1, 2017-Oct. 1, 2017: Use this preparatory period (3 months) to complete initial testing of record sets in local systems and report on impact.

Initial testing is for non-access points in bibliographic records. Vendors shall be made aware that further testing will address access points and authority records, where applicable.   Furthermore, only records with ISBD punctuation are included in the initial testing.  The records do not include coding that needs to be developed by MAC.

c.       Phase 3: Oct.  1, 2017 to Jan. 1, 2018:  Analyze results of testing in local systems, and evaluate responses from system vendors (including any projections they may have regarding development and release of upgrades to accommodate proposed changes). Use this second preparatory period (3 months) to understand or make any local changes necessary to tools, workflows, policies.

d.       Phase 4: Jan. 1, 2018-? Based on analysis of phase 3, develop timeline, revise specifications, plan changes to tools, workflows, policies as necessary.

January 1, 2018 is a “check-in” date to understand the status after hearing from vendors, testers, etc.

1. might vendors need to fold punctuation changes into a multi-year development cycle?

2. Will there be any MAC actions and MARC documentation updates needed?

3. Confirm assumption that this proposal would ease conversion to linked data.


2.       COMMUNICATION: PCC community outreach to stakeholders (i.e. local system vendors: ILMS and discovery tool providers) Goes through all 4 phases.

a.       OCLC will reach out to ILMS vendors

b.       PCC group will also reach out to discovery tool vendors (some overlap between a & b; redundancy OK)

c.       PCC institutional members reach out to vendors as customers

d.       PCC Steering will monitor progress through each phase and chair will report to PoCo and PCC


3.       TESTING RECORD SETS: OCLC and LC will create and distribute small record sets for PCC institutional members and vendors to use to test impact of ISBD-punctuation-less records on import, workflow, indexing, sorting, display, etc.

a.       OCLC will have some number of pairs of records (with punctuation/without punctuation) --some English, some German--to test by end of phase 1

b.       LC will have some number of pairs of records (with punctuation/without punctuation) to test by end of phase 1

c.       PCC institutions may create pairs of records (with punctuation/without punctuation), too.

d.       PCC institutional members and vendors will report on impact (using the test record sets) at end of phase 2


The phases 1-3 above, in short, prepare us to systematically and effectively remove unneeded punctuation from the MARC records. Phase 4, beginning Jan. 1, 2018, is when preparation will morph into implementation.


PCC will be working through Policy Committee, the Standing Committees—each will have its role, and whatever ad hoc or temporary groups may be needed.


Thank you and all the best to you,


Matthew Beacom

PCC Chair


Lori Robare

PCC Chair-Elect


Kate Harcourt

PCC Past Chair