Machine-Readable Bibliographic Information Committee
ALA Annual, Chicago, June 2013

Two proposals and two discussion papers were considered at the MARBI sessions at ALA Annual in Chicago.

Proposal No. 2013-08 Defining Subfield $7 in the 8XX Series Added Entry Fields in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Record

German libraries generally do not create authority records for series, preferring to describe the series in a bibliographic record that is linked to bibliographic records for individual parts of the series. This proposal, requested by the German libraries, enables catalogers to designate the type and bibliographic level of a series in a record describing part of that series. The proposal was accepted with a few minor changes to wording.

Proposal No. 2013-09 Defining Subfields for Qualifiers to Standard Identifiers in the MARC 21 Bibliographic, Authority, and Holdings Formats

This proposal defined a new, repeatable subfield $q for information qualifying the record control number in subfield $a of standard record number fields 015, 020, 024, and 027. (Field 022, the ISSN field, was not included.) Qualifiers for record numbers may consist of information about the physical format (folded, paperback, acid-free paper, sewn), the publisher, the volume number, the content (score), etc. Separating this information from the record number will improve efficiency and granularity. This proposal passed with a few minor changes.

Discussion Paper No. 2013-DP05 Defining Indicator Values for 588 Source of Description Note in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format

The 588 field was originally proposed by serials catalogers, who frequently record information about their descriptive data, such as the latest issue consulted, or the issue on which the description is based. Their experience with the field has revealed that typing the somewhat lengthy captions slows down record production, and results in frequent misspellings. The paper suggested defining indicators which could be set to display the labels; this would save cataloger time, and cut down on errors. It was pointed out, though, that the information provided is really data about data, and therefore not simply a display issue. Administrative metadata is growing, and committing to the use of an indicator may not be a good strategy for the long term, since only a limited number of indicator values are allowed in MARC. It was agreed that the discussion paper should come back as a proposal, using the indicator technique rather than some other method, and using the same indicator for the Description based on and Identification of resource based on labels. The suggestion that a blank indicator be made obsolete was rejected.

Discussion Paper No. 2013-DP06 Defining New Field 388 for Chronological Terms in the MARC 21 Authority Format

This paper was another in the series of MARBI papers and proposals offered to support the development of LCGFT (Library of Congress Genre/Form terms). LCGFT excludes facets such as creator or audience characteristics or chronological terms, so new MARC fields have been defined to accommodate these facets. These have obvious implications for art catalogers, especially when creating authority records for individual works of art. The paper under consideration discussed defining a field in the authority format for chronological terms. This would be used for recording controlled words or phrases, as opposed to the coded dates recorded in the 046 field. This would have the advantage of allowing users to search by a period term, which can cover a wide range of dates and which is often culture-specific, as opposed to merely a date. Catalogers would be able to indicate whether the period terms applied to the date of creation of the work, or to the date of component works within a compilation (in other words, a 19th century anthology of Elizabethan era poetry could be coded as both 19th century and as Elizabethan).

Issues raised during the discussion included the difference between subject and genre metadata; the value of providing access by period for compilations, since the creation date of a compilation is usually the equivalent of a publication date; and possible confusion caused by the fact that different disciplines treat period differently (for modern music, the preferred division is by decade, for other disciplines, it may be by century, or by regnal periods). The authors of the paper were asked to rewrite the paper, providing different examples and explaining more clearly how this will support genre-based access as opposed to subject-based access.

The meeting on Sunday, June 30, was the last session of the ALA committee MARBI before its dissolution. A new ALA committee, the Metadata Standards Committee, is replacing MARBI as the committee charged with playing a leadership role in the creation and development of metadata standards for bibliographic description. This will not, however, end ARLIS/NA’s involvement in metadata issues related to data format. ARLIS/NA liaisons have never been members of MARBI. Instead they have been members of LC’s MARC Advisory Committee (MAC), which consists of representatives of large national libraries, non-ALA library associations, bibliographic utilities, and other organizations with an interest in the development of MARC. MAC will continue its role of advising the Library of Congress on MARC as well as on the development of BIBFRAME. While liaisons participated in MARBI discussions, they had no voting role. Members of the MAC will be able to vote on proposals presented to the Committee. It’s good to know that ARLIS/NA and VRA now have a more active role in the maintenance of the MARC standards, and that they will have a voice in the development of BIBFRAME.

Submitted by Elizabeth O'Keefe, ARLIS/NA Liaison to the MARC Advisory Committee
Elizabeth O'Keefe
Director of Collection Information Systems
The Morgan Library & Museum
225 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016-3405
TEL: 212 590-0380
FAX: 2127685680

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