MARC Advisory Committee (MAC), ALA Annual Conference, Orlando, FL, June 25-26 2016
Submitted by Liz O’Keefe []
[agenda and link to reports]

The MARC Advisory Committee (MAC) agenda for Orlando was a grueling one, with seven proposals and fourteen discussion papers scheduled for consideration in four hours. The committee nevertheless managed to get through the whole agenda, thanks to Chair Matthew Wise’s efficient management of discussion prior to and during the sessions.

The most interesting paper on the agenda for ARLIS/NA members was Discussion Paper No. 2016-DP22, Defining a New Subfield in Field 340 to Record Color Content in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format, which was submitted by the Cataloging Advisory Committee. The paper suggested the definition of a new subfield in the 340 (Physical Medium) field for controlled terms for color content. Color content is currently recorded in the 300$b, which is a grab bag of different data elements (color content, illustration type, production process, medium and support). Recording color content in a separate subfield in the 340, which already has subfields defined for most material properties of the resource, would support application of RDA and other standards, such as Cataloging Cultural Objects, which define color content as a separate data element. Comment prior to the session was generally favorable; at the session, participants suggested making the new subfield repeatable, and approved the paper’s recommendation that the definition of field 340 be expanded. The paper will be brought back as a proposal at ALA Midwinter.

Discussion of and outcomes for the other papers are summarized below, in the order in which they were considered.

Proposal No. 2016-03, Clarify the Definition of Subfield $k and Expand the Scope of Field 046 in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format, was accepted, with the proviso that the first sentence in the definition be reworded for clarity.

Proposal 2016-04, Broaden Usage of Field 257 to Include Autonomous Regions in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format, received a good deal of discussion. The field is currently used to record the identity of the producing country for film and video; film and video catalogers would like to expand it to include regions with strong film cultures. Unfortunately, the term “autonomous” is problematic, because it has political connotations, and also because a region’s autonomous status may change over time. But the suggestion that the term “region” be used without a qualifier was rejected, because it might encourage catalogers to use this field for regions which are merely geographic, such as the Great Plains. It was suggested that the best way to deal with the confusion would be a best practices manual; but the eventual recommendation was to send the paper back to OLAC for revision.

Proposal No. 2016-05, Defining New X47 Fields for Named Events in the MARC 21 Authority and Bibliographic Formats, was accepted as written, after some discussion about revising the proposal to add a subfield $n for events that contain a number. It was decided that additional subfielding could be defined for the field later, if use studies warrant it.

Proposal No. 2016-06, Defining Field 347 (Digital File Characteristics) in the MARC 21 Holdings Format, was accepted as written. The British Library representative noted that in this proposal, and in 2016-DP22, the example “$2 rda” was incorrect. Specific labels are required for the RDA vocabularies represented in subfield $a “File type” and $b “Encoding format” and likewise other vocabularies represented in the 34X tag block. This issue might be addressed through the RSC/NDMSO protocol. The MAC steering group may consider making non-controversial changes between meetings, in much the same way as the RSC does for fast-track proposals.

Proposal No. 2016-07, Defining Subfield $3 in Field 382 of the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format, was accepted. As suggested in pre-meeting discussion, subfield $3 and other numeric fields might be candidates for en masse addition to any applicable field by the MAC steering group.

Proposal No. 2016-08, Redefining Code Values in Field 008/20 (Format of Music) in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format, was accepted with changes to definitions in the documentation.

Proposal No. 2016-09, Recording Distributor Number for Music and Moving Image Materials in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format was accepted, after a brief discussion about the second indicator, which was used to control the production of cards for catalogs. It will be made obsolete at some later point.

Discussion Paper No. 2016-DP17, Redefining Subfield $4 to Encompass URIs for Relationships in the MARC 21 Authority and Bibliographic Formats. The paper discusses the fact that MARC encoding currently does not distinguish between URIs for the objects of relationships (things) and the relationships themselves. This creates the potential for ambiguity in cases where it is possible to record URIs for both objects of relationships and the relationships themselves in the same subfield string. The paper recommends redefining the scope of subfield $4 to allow the recording of URIs for relationships as distinct from subfield $0, which would then be reserved for recording URIs for objects. During the discussion, it was acknowledged that increasingly, different data types are being shoehorned into a limited number of fields. About five years ago, a universal way to enable this was considered, but not implemented, so we continue to apply ad hoc solutions. The authors of the paper were encouraged to come back with a proposal addressing the issues raised.

Discussion Paper No. 2016-DP18, Redefining Subfield $0 to Remove the Use of Parenthetical Prefix "(uri)" in the MARC 21 Authority, Bibliographic, and Holdings Formats. This paper grows out of the work of the PCC URI Task Group on URIs in MARC, which recommended that the string “(uri)” be dropped when it is a part of an http string in subfield $0. Not only is the prefix redundant, but it requires every system to remove it to make the http string functional. There was general agreement that the presence of the prefix creates problems, though the representative of the DNB noted that removing it will affect some German libraries agencies that use the $0 for data other than http strings, such as authority control numbers. The committee agreed to convert the discussion paper into a proposal, which explicitly stated that the prefix should not be used in the $0 subfield.

Discussion Paper No. 2016-DP19, Adding Subfield $0 to Fields 257 and 377 in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format and Field 377 in the MARC 21 Authority Format. The paper was converted into a proposal, and approved.

Discussion Paper No. 2016-DP20, Recording Temporary Sublocation and Temporary Shelving Location in the MARC 21 Holdings Format. After a brief discussion, the committee voted to have the proposers bring their recommendations back as a proposal.

Discussion Paper No. 2016-DP21, Defining Subfields $e and $4 in Field 752 of the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format. The committee voted for the proposers to bring back their recommendations as a proposal, with an adjustment to the definition.

Discussion Paper No. 2016-DP23, Adding Subfields $b and $2 to Field 567 in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format. The paper covers the use of both controlled terms and free-text fields; more examples should be added to make this clearer when the paper is returned as a proposal.

[Proposal No. 2016-10, Punctuation in the MARC 21 Authority format. Accepted as proposed, with editorial work so that punctuation is clearly defined. --sc]

Discussion Paper No. 2016-DP24, Define a Code to Indicate the Omission of Non-ISBD Punctuation in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format. The discussion paper was revised to eliminate redefinition of the blank, and then approved.

Proposal No. 2016-11, Designating Matching Information in the MARC 21 Bibliographic and Authority Formats. This proposal was intended to support recording information about matches between data in a bibliographic record and the corresponding string in an authority record. During the discussion, several additional subfields were suggested: $d for the date the report was generated, $x for a non-public and $z for a public note. These were acceptable to the proposer, but the paper foundered on the definition of the $0 subfield. In this proposal, the $0 is pointing to another record (the authority record), instead of acting as an identifier for the value in the $a subfield. The committee was unwilling to redefine the $0 so radically, so the proposal was not accepted.

Proposal No. 2016-12, Designation of a Definition in the MARC 21 Authority Format. This proposal defined a new field, 677, for recording a brief definition of the entity described in the authority record. The brief definition is intended to be displayed to the end user, e.g. in a discovery system, so that a quick and easy way to identify the entity is available. The proposal passed, with some changes: all subfields were made repeatable, the definitions of $a and the field tag were changed, and $u was added to support linking to a definition in another source.

Proposal No. 2016-13, Designation of the Type of Entity in the MARC 21 Authority Format. This proposal recommended the definition of a new field, the 075, for information about what type of entity is described by the authority record. German libraries record a broader entity type using terms from a relatively limited list (e.g. person, name of a person, corporate body, conference/meeting, work, topical term or geographical place). They also record a narrower type or sub-type from a larger list of about 50 terms. The proposal was approved, with a redefinition of $a as non-repeating, the elimination of $4, and the rewording of the definition to change the word “systems” to “methods” (“The field can be repeated if different systems, methods, models or styles of subdividing are used to describe an entity”).

Discussion Paper No. 2016-DP25, Extending the Encoding Level in the MARC 21 Authority Format. German libraries share an authority file in which records are coded at different levels depending on the completeness of a record and the rights and restrictions that apply based on the file’s coordinated editorial concept. Rather than requesting new codes for Leader 17 for each of their codes, the paper suggested defining a new code in Leader 17 to express the fact that an encoding level was recorded in field 042 (Authentication Code). The initial response was to suggest instead that a separate subfield be defined in the 042 for the encoding level, as opposed to the authenticating agency or community (for which the $a in the 042 field is used). This seemed like a more elegant solution, since it would separate the encoding level from the agency. But when several speakers pointed out that the 042$a is already being used to record codes that mix agency and encoding level, the paper was withdrawn; instead, the German libraries will apply to the LC PSD for codes for use in the 042$a.

Discussion Paper No. 2016-DP26, Designating a Norm or Standard used for Romanization in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format. Pre-meeting comments favored the third option presented in the paper: defining two new fields, one to identify for the MARC record as a whole the specific transliteration norm or standard used, and the other to identify at the field level the specific transliteration norm or standard used. During the meeting, participants mentioned many complexities associated with identifying a standard used for romanization. A single record may contain text romanized according to several standards; some of the romanization may be machine-generated, some may not; and in some cases, it is more meaningful to talk about romanization at the statement level rather than the field level. It is also important to recognize that some types of record, such as CONSER records and authority records, grow over time, and may contain various layers of romanization applied at various times by various catalogers. The Library of Congress and the DNB, which authored the paper, agreed to consult and to collaborate on a new paper that would address these concerns.

Discussion Paper No. 2016-DP27, General Field Linking with Subfield $8 in the Five MARC 21 Formats. The discussion paper was converted into a proposal, applying the second option presented in the paper, i.e., definition of a new field link type to cover cases where the specific field link type values defined in MARC do not apply. The new value will be “u”, defined as “General linking, type unspecified”.

Discussion Paper No. 2016-DP28, Using a Classification Record Control Number as a Link in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format. The paper explored the options for linking from a MARC Bibliographic record to a MARC Classification record using the record control number of the MARC Classification record as an identifier. A link to this classification record from a field of the bibliographic record could provide "classification control" similar to "authority control". Participants preferred the first option offered by the paper, which was to broaden the scope of subfield $0 from "Authority record control number or standard number" to "Authority or Classification record control number or standard number", and to define subfield $0 as a repeatable subfield in field 084 of the Bibliographic format. The paper will be brought back in the form of a proposal.

Discussion Paper No. 2016-DP29, Defining New Subfields $i, $3, and $4 in Field 370 (Associated Place) of the MARC 21 Bibliographic and Authority Formats. This paper discussed defining subfields $i and $4 for notes or relationship designator terms or codes used to clarify the relationship of the associated place recorded in the field to the resource being described. Subfield $3 would be used to indicate that an associated place applies to only a part or portion of the resource. The Subject Access Committee prefers using a code rather than a term. It was objected that the $4 subfield is usually reserved for relationships between agents and resources. More examples illustrating the use of $4 and the use of $3 in the authority format were requested for when the paper is resubmitted.

Discussion Paper No. 2016-DP30, Defining New Subfields $i and $4 in Field 386 of the MARC 21 Bibliographic and Authority Formats. The new subfields in the 386 (Creator/Contributor Characteristics) field would be used to provide a note or relationship designator term or code that may be used to clarify the relationship of the creator/contributor terms recorded in the field to the resource being described. Comment on the list-serve was generally favorable, though opinion was divided on whether the new subfields should also be defined for field 385 (Audience Characteristics). The proposers agreed that there was enough response to guide revision of the paper for the next MAC meeting.

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