NAME: Making field 755 obsolete in the USMARC Bibliographic Format
SOURCE: Association of College and Research Libraries, Rare Books and Manuscripts Section, Bibliographic Standards Committee; ALA, Subject Analysis Committee
SUMMARY: This proposal suggests making field 755 (Added Entry-- Physical Characteristics) obsolete and modifying the definition of field 655 (Index Term--Genre/Form) to accommodate terms related to physical characteristics.
KEYWORDS: Added Entry--Physical Characteristics; Field 655 (Bibliographic); Field 755 (Bibliographic); Form; Genre; Index Term--Genre/Form; Object Characteristics; Physical Characteristics
RELATED: DP82 (Feb. 1995)
5/5/1995 - Forwarded to the USMARC Advisory Group for discussion at the June 1995 MARBI meetings.
6/25/95 - Results of USMARC Advisory Group Discussion - Approved.
7/26/95 - Results of final LC review - Agreed with MARBI decisions.
PROPOSAL NO. 95-10: Making field 755 obsolete 1. INTRODUCTION This proposal suggests making field 755 (Added Entry--Physical Characteristics) obsolete in favor of field 655 (Index Term-- Genre/Form) which already accommodates similar data. It is the result of reaction to Discussion Paper No. 82 (Merging Field 755 with Field 655 in the USMARC Bibliographic Format) which led to broad support for doing away with field 755. Making a distinction between the terms which are recorded in field 755 and field 655 has been difficult since field 755 was defined. After efforts by several groups to draft mutually exclusive definitions of the terms for these USMARC data elements, it was generally agreed that it is not possible to define them in a way that would hold true in all circumstances, thus, obsolescence of field 755 is proposed. 2. DISCUSSION Field 655 and field 755 were added to the _USMARC Format for Bibliographic Data_ to accommodate form/genre data and physical (object) characteristics, respectively. Field 655 was approved with strong consensus in 1979 as an access point for both form and genre information. It was placed in the 6XX block by analogy with the inclusion of headings for form and genre in _Library of Congress Subject Headings_ (LCSH). The definition of field 755 was eventually approved in 1982 as an access point for the physical characteristcs of an item. It was placed in the 7XX block because the data was not considered to be "subject" in nature. Early on, systems administrators had difficulty rationalizing the indexing of field 755 terms with the information in other added entry (i.e., 7XX) fields. In most systems field 755 terms are indexed with subject (i.e., 6XX) terms, or sometimes not at all. In the 13 years since field 755 was defined, its use has caused problems for both librarians and catalog users. For librarians, the problem is deciding whether a specific term should go in field 755 or field 655. Although, by some definitions, a clear distinction between genre/form and physical characteristics seems possible, in practice the distinctions can break down. Several writings by experts in the bibliographic control of rare books and special materials have expanded on this problem. The most workable solution to rationalizing the use of field 655 and 755 for terms used in rare book and special materials cataloging was the designation of which field to use by thesauri themselves. Using the source of a term to determine which USMARC data element to use is highly arbitrary, however, and of no help to library patrons. For non-librarians, the resulting unpredictability of where (i.e., in what kind of field) certain terms might be found requires multiple searches, unless the indexing of these two field is combined. In many systems the indexing of field 655 and 755 is combined because of the problems outlined above. Of all the thesauri written for use in these two fields, only two restrict the use of their terms to field 755. Many contain terms that can be used in either field. As a result of the Airlie House Conference on Subject Subdivisions, held in 1991, ALA's Subject Analysis Committee investigated the various ways form data are represented in catalog records. Its Subcommittee on the Nature and Use of Form Data, which undertook the task of devising working definitions and articulating recommendations to promote the consistent treatment of form data in bibliographic records, suggested at the 1994 ALA Annual Conference in Miami that the distinction between intellectual and physical form be removed from the USMARC bibliographic format. The issue of form/genre versus physical characteristics was also discussed by other groups. In meetings of the Working Group on Form and Genre Vocabularies, which worked to reconcile the various form/genre thesauri, members were unable to define the distinction between field 655 and field 755 in a satisfactory manner. In the absence of a logical distinction that holds up in all cases, members of the group also reached the conclusion that the best course is to eliminate field 755. The RBMS Bibliographic Standards Committee discussed the issue in Miami in June 1994 and also came to the conclusion that field 755 should be eliminated, as did MARBI during its discussions in February 1995. The use of field 655 for terms currently recorded in field 755 will not require any substantive changes to field 655. The subfields defined in field 655 already match those defined for field 755. Only slight changes to the definition, and possibly to the name of field 655, are needed. Examples of terms relating to physical characteristics would also be added to the field 655 GUIDELINES FOR APPLYING CONTENT DESIGNATORS. 3. PROPOSED CHANGES The following is presented for consideration: -- Make field 755 obsolete in the USMARC Format for Bibliographic Data. -- Modify the definition of field 655 to accommodate physical characteristics. -- Add "Physical Characteristics" to the name of field 655. (The new name for field 655 would be: Index Term-- Genre/Form/Physical Characteristics".) -- Change sections of the _USMARC Code List for Relators, Sources, Description Conventions_ containing codes designated for use in field 755 to identify use in field 655 instead. ___________________________________________________________________ ATTACHMENT A 655 Index Term--Genre/Form</Physical Characteristics> (R) Indicators First Type of heading # Basic 0 Faceted Second Source of term 7 Source specified in subfield $2 Subfield Codes $a Genre/form</physical characteristic> data or focus term (NR) $b Non-focus term (R) $c Facet/hierarchy designation (R) $v Form subdivision (R) $x General subdivision (R) $y Chronological subdivision (R) $z Geographic subdivision (R) $2 Source of term (NR) $3 Materials specified (NR) $6 Linkage (NR) ___________________________________________________________________ FIELD DEFINITION AND SCOPE This field contains terms indicating the genre, [and/or] form<, and/or physical characteristics> of the materials being described. Genre terms for textual materials designate specific kinds of materials distinguished by the style or technique of their intellectual contents; for example, biographies, catechisms, essays, hymns, or reviews. Form terms designate historically and functionally specific kinds of materials as distinguished by an examination of their physical character, subject of their intellectual content, or the order of information within them; for example, daybooks, diaries, directories, journals, memoranda, questionnaires, syllabi, or time sheets. <Terms indicating physical characteristics are generally tangible aspects of an item; for example, medium, production process, and/or material used.> In the context of graphic materials, genre headings denote categories of material distinguished by vantage point, intended purpose, characteristics of the creator, publication status, or method of representation. The field may contain terms constructed from a faceted vocabulary. For each term found in the field, an identification is given as to the facet/hierarchy in the thesaurus from which the term came. In addition, identification is given as to which term is the focus term of the expression. Standard published lists are used for the genre, [and] form<, and physical characteristics> terms. The <term> list is identified in subfield $2 (Source of term).