PROPOSAL NO.: 2002-04

DATE: December 18, 2001

NAME: Definition of Subfield $p (Number of pieces per issuance) in Fields 853-855 of the MARC 21 Holdings Format

SOURCE: CONSER Task Force on Publication Patterns and Holdings

SUMMARY: This paper proposes a new subfield $p in fields 853-855 to cover cases where multi-part titles are issued in a specified frequency. This would allow coding for both when to expect an issue (its issuing frequency- $w) and how many pieces per issue are expected.

KEYWORDS: Frequency (HD); Number of pieces per issuance (HD); Subfield $p, in fields 853-855 (HD); Subfield $w, in fields 853-855 (HD)

RELATED: 2001-DP09 (June 2001)


12/18/01 - Made available to the MARC 21 community for discussion.

01/21/02 - Results of the MARC Advisory Committee discussion - Approved. It was suggested that the wording of subfield $p be revised to clarify its use.

03/20/02 - Results of LC/NLC review - Approved.

PROPOSAL NO. 2002-04:Definition of Subfield $p (Number of pieces per issuance) in Fields 853-855


Serials issued in parts manifest one type of frequency in the bibliographic record but may require a different understanding of frequency in the holdings records to adequately support prediction and inventory control requirements. Subfield $w (Frequency) in the 853-855 fields of the holdings format contains a one character alphabetic code to represent conventional frequencies such as "m" for monthly or "b" for bimonthly. It also provides for the use of a number to specify the number of issues per year when no appropriate code for periodicity exists. Multi-part serials embody a duality that challenges our current definition of frequency. A multi-part issue could be published once or twice per year but each "issue" may be received in multiple, separately identified pieces. Multi-part issues of this type are commonly found in serial receiving situations.

One such title is The Bankers' Almanac. Included in the 310 field (Current publication frequency) of its bibliographic record this almanac is described as issued semiannually. In fact, it is published in six separate bound volumes twice per year in January and July. From an inventory standpoint in the holdings record, serial issues for this title are received twice every year with six volumes on each issuing occasion. Because the dates of issuance are twice a year (January and July) the bibliographic record describes its frequency in terms of its issuing frequency (semiannual). In the holdings record, subfield $w is coded as "f" (for semiannual) to match the issuance of the title, not as "12" to represent the number of pieces received per year. Allowance is made for coding an arabic number to represent the number of issues received, but only in cases when there is no appropriate frequency code. Therefore, for a title published five times per year, subfield $w would be coded as "5". However, if a multipart title is received five times per year, each time with two physical volumes, A and B, the subfield is not defined to allow that level of receiving detail at the piece level. One concept of frequency of a serials receiving behavior indicates when to expect it while the other indicates how many pieces to expect. Both types of information are helpful in predicting the receipt history of the work.

Discussion Paper 2001-DP09 was considered at the MARC Advisory Committee meeting in June 2001. It explored repeating subfield $w to record both pieces of information in separate instances of the subfield. The consensus was to define a new subfield so that both aspects of frequency could be expressed to enhance accuracy in coding and improve serial prediction. Both are needed since one drives the expected date and the other is for inventory and claiming.


2.1. Defining a new subfield $p

Within the currently defined standards, bibliographic and holdings, there is scope to express the "frequency" of a title like The Bankers' Almanac. Both facets of serial frequency (when different) must be included in the holdings records in order for it to fulfill the role of prediction. Currently subfield $w allows the recording of two aspects of frequency. It instructs us to provide either a frequency code or a numeric value representing the number of "issues per year" when no codable periodicity exists. This suggests that one must code subfield $w for The Bankers' Almanac with a value of "f" (for semiannual) rather than "6", that represents the number of physical volumes that one is adding semiannually to the inventory as a result of this subscription. For automated systems that create physical item records as a by-product of serial receipt, the number of items expected is a critical piece of information. To solve the dilemma of subfield $w in such cases, a new subfield $p could be defined to cover pieces/parts per issuance.

Subfield $w would remain the subfield in which to record frequency, i.e. period of issuance using the defined codes. The new subfield could be used to define the number of parts or pieces per issuance. For a description of fields 853-855, see the Appendix.

Example 1:

853 $a publication year $b v. $u 6 $v r $i (year) $j (month) $x 01,07 $p 6 $w f
  [The bibliographic units consists of a serial published two times per year with six parts published for each of the two issues. The issues appear in January and July]

Example 2:

853 20 $8 1 $a [Ed.] $b v. $u 12 $v r $i (year) $j (month) $p 6 $w f $x01
863 41 $8 1.1 $a 156 $b 1-6 $i 2001 $j 01
863 41 $8 1.2 $a 156 $b 1-5 $i 2001 $j 07
    [This is a semiannual publication issued twice per year in January and July, with six issues published at each time. It restarts its volume numbering (second level enumeration) with every issuance. The first level enumeration changes once per year at the turn of the calendar year.]

2.2. Advantages of the new subfield

The new subfield resolves current ambiguities inherent in the subfield $w frequency code. Subfield $w is generally aligned with the 008, character position 18 (Frequency) in the serials bibliographic record defined as a one-character code that indicates the frequency of the serial. It is expressed in terms of publishing frequency or issuance rather than number of pieces that are set to arrive. The definition of subfield $p allows us to continue the association between frequency as it is understood on the bibliographic record and subfield $w in the holdings format except in situations that use issues per year. At the same time through the new subfield $p it is possible to define the number of pieces that will arrive, tying the actual receipt of physical pieces (in inventory) with the occasions upon which they are issued.

2.3. Impact on existing records

Presumably, no records exist that require retrospective work since the means of expressing this aspect of serial behavior in the format was never provided before introduction of Subfield $p. Since Subfield $p is optional and would only be provided in cases where both pieces of information need to be recorded, existing records would not be incorrect. It may be desirable to update patterns that are related to multi-part serials by adding $p data.

2.4. Usage with Subfield $w

Subfield $p would only be provided if there were a need to indicate both the frequency code and the number of parts per issuance. Subfield $w would continue to be used for number of issues per year when no appropriate code for periodicity exists but the regularity must be expressed as a number.


In the MARC 21 Holdings Format:




First - Compressibility and expandability
0 - Cannot compress or expand
1 - Can compress but not expand
2 - Can compress or expand
3 - Unknown

Second - Caption evaluation
0 - Captions verified; all levels present
1 - Captions verified; all levels may not be present
2 - Captions unverified; all levels present
3 - Captions unverified; all levels may not be present

Subfield Codes

$a - First level of enumeration (NR)
$b - Second level of enumeration (NR)
$c - Third level of enumeration (NR)
$d - Fourth level of enumeration (NR)
$e - Fifth level of enumeration (NR)
$f - Sixth level of enumeration (NR)
$g - Alternative numbering scheme, first level of enumeration (NR)
$h - Alternative numbering scheme, second level of enumeration (NR)
$i - First level of chronology (NR)
$j - Second level of chronology (NR)
$k - Third level of chronology (NR)
$l - Fourth level of chronology (NR)
$m - Alternative numbering scheme, chronology (NR)
$t - Copy (NR)
$u - Bibliographic units per next higher level (R)
$v - Numbering continuity (R)
$w - Frequency (NR)
$x - Calendar change (NR)
$y - Regularity pattern (R)
$z - Numbering scheme (R)
$3 - Materials specified (NR)
$6 - Linkage (NR)
$8 - Field link and sequence number (NR)

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