PROPOSAL NO.: 2003-01

DATE: December 16, 2002

NAME: Defining subfield $2 in Field 022 for ISSN Center code

SOURCE: ISSN International Centre

SUMMARY: This paper proposes defining subfield $2 (Source) in field 022 (International Standard Serial Number) in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format.

KEYWORDS: ISSN center code (BD); Subfield $2 in field 022 (BD); Field 022 (BD); Continuing resources (BD)



12/16/02 - Made available to the MARC 21 community for discussion.

1/25/03 - Results of the MARC Advisory Committee discussion - Approved as amended. Field 006/03 (ISSN Center) will also be made obsolete. There was discussion about whether to add subfield $2 to field 022 in the authority and holdings formats, but it was decided that the ISSN is not controlled there. This decision may be reconsidered when a need is expressed in the future.

3/17/03 - Results of LC/NLC/BL review - Agreed with the MARBI decisions.

PROPOSAL No. 2003-01: Defining subfield $2 in field 022 for ISSN center code


The MARC 21 Bibliographic format currently includes a one byte, fixed-length data element in the Serials 008 to identify the ISSN center responsible for assigning and maintaining certain data related to a serial item. A small number of one-byte codes have been defined for 008 position 20 for selected ISSN centers. ISSN centers are responsible for assigning the International Standard Serial Number, Key Title(s), and other information in the bibliographic description for serials contributed to the ISSN International Centre's union database. There are currently 74 active ISSN centers. The MARC 21 fixed-length data element in field 008 cannot accommodate unique identifiers for all 74 existing ISSN centers.


Current Situation. When the USMARC bibliographic format was first expanded to accommodate serials, a one-byte fixed-length data element in field 008 was adequate to identify the national centers assigning and maintaining the ISSN, Key Title(s), and other related information in a bibliographic record. At that time, only a small number of ISSN centers existed and they could be uniquely identified by a one-byte code. Ten numeric codes were eventually defined in USMARC. Six of these were made obsolete in 1989. The same data element (Serials 008/20) was defined in CANMARC, but an additional 19 alphabetic codes were defined for newer ISSN centers. The alphabetic codes were made obsolete in CANMARC in 1990. The harmonization of USMARC and CANMARC did not require a change to the serials 008/20 in MARC 21, but the accommodation of former UKMARC users in 2002 required making the obsolete 008/20 code 2 (United Kingdom) valid again.

Current definition of Serial 008/20:

008/20 - ISSN center
# - No ISSN center code assigned
0 - International Center
1 - United States
2 - United Kingdom
4 - Canada
z - Other
| - No attempt to code

One of the users of the MARC 21 format (in an adapted "ISSNMARC" version) is the ISSN International Centre (ISSNIC) in Paris. ISSNIC may in the near future need to migrate its database to a standard MARC 21-based library system, depending on the outcome of its current efforts to retool. ISSNIC currently receives bibliographic data from 74 active ISSN centers in a variety of formats, many of them based on MARC 21. The responsible ISSN center is recorded in the ISSNMARC field 008 by ISSNIC in a local 008 configuration that defines subfields in the field. Subfields are not allowed in 008 by ISO 2709, the format structure standard followed by MARC 21, but the ISSNMARC 008 is an internal construct. The ISSN center codes are recorded in field 008, subfield $g. The ISSNIC can therefore have more than one byte to identify the ISSN Center. In MARC 21, 008/20 cannot be expanded to multiple bytes as the following position is used and other apparently open positions in Serials were defined formerly (and are now obsolete). Even if all the available digits and letters of the Latin alphabet were to be used in the single position (upper and lowercase), only 62 unique codes could be defined for ISSN centers. Some new approach to recording an identifier for the ISSN centers is needed in MARC 21 to meet the needs of ISSNIC and ISSN national centers that use MARC 21.

Possible solutions. Recording an ISSN center code in a MARC 21 variable length data element is the solution preferred by ISSNIC. A new field could be defined in MARC 21 for the ISSN center code, or a new element at the subfield level could be defined in an existing field. The shortage of available field tags in the 0XX (Numbers and Codes) block, where one would expect the ISSN center code to be, argues against defining a separate field for this data. But also, the most logical place for the center code is in a new subfield in one of the existing variable fields already created and maintained by the ISSN centers themselves, such as field 022.

Current definition of field 022:


First - Level of international interest
# - No level specified
0 - Serial of international interest
1 - Serial not of international interest

Second - Undefined
# - Undefined

Subfield Codes
$a - International Standard Serial Number (NR)
$y - Incorrect ISSN (R)
$z - Canceled ISSN (R)
$6 - Linkage (NR)
$8 - Field link and sequence number (R)

ISSN centers assign ISSNs recorded in field 022 (International Standard Serial Number) and associated Key Titles recorded in field 210 (Abbreviated Title) and 222 (Key Title). The ISSN is the most stable ISSN element. Proximity to this strictly controled alpha-numeric identifier would be a useful place for a subelement identifying an ISSN center. The definition of a new subfield $2 (Source) would meet the needs of ISSNIC and the national ISSN centers themselves. It would have to be optional since an inputting agency that is not a national center does not necessarily know who assigned the ISSN. ISSN centers themselves would be the most likely to enter and/or change subfield $2 codes in MARC 21 field 022, which is the case now with codes in Serials field 008/20.

The current list of ISSNIC national center codes includes both one and two-byte alpha, numeric, and alpha-numeric codes. Although not an essential part of this proposal, definition of a more consistent style of code by the ISSNIC should be considered.


In the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format:

-- Define the following non-repeatable subfield in field 022 (International Standard Serial Number) for recording a code that identifies the ISSN center responsible for assigning and maintaining the ISSN and related data. Specify the use of codes from either the ISSNIC list of ISSN centers, or reference a new source code list.

-- Make the Serials 008/20 (ISSN center code) obsolete.

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