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DATE: May 23, 2012

NAME: Recording Audience Characteristics of Works and Expressions in the MARC 21 Bibliographic and Authority Formats

SOURCE: ALCTS CaMMS Subject Analysis Committee Subcommittee on Genre/Form Implementation

SUMMARY: This paper suggests the establishment of a new 3XX field in both the Bibliographic and Authority formats to record audience characteristics related to genre/form.

KEYWORDS: Audience (BD, AD); Genre/Form; Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials; LCGFT


05/23/12 - Made available to the MARC community for discussion.

06/24/12 – Results of MARC Advisory Committee discussion: Question 3.1:  Yes.  Question 3.2: There was variation of opinions but a straw vote supported a 3XX tag in both Bibliographic and Authority formats.  Question 3.3:  No, there was no support for this. Question 3.4: Separate 3XX fields are preferred. Question 3.5:  A straw vote supported leaving 008/22 as is. There was support to include a subfield in 3XX for coded values, so the 008/22 values could be recorded in that field.  Question 3.6:  Yes to representing intellectual level.  Question 3.7: No, do not include subdivision subfields. Some participants wanted to see the audience characteristics divided into groups (e.g., age, disability, gender, Ethnic/cultural) and the groups also recorded in the 3XX field.  There was a suggestion that $u (or another subfield since $u is usually for the source and not the individual term) be added to the field for the URI of the term. May come back as a proposal.

Discussion Paper No. 2012-DP04: Recording Audience Characteristics of Works and Expressions


Members of the ALCTS CaMMS Subject Analysis Committee (SAC) Subcommittee on Genre/Form Implementation have been discussing the implementation of the Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials (LCGFT).  Some aspects of works and expressions that are now expressed in combination with form headings in LCSH will be out of scope for LCGFT, and may need to be recorded elsewhere in bibliographic and authority records. 

One such aspect is the audience for a work or expression.  Within LCSH, the audience for a work is brought out in a variety of ways:

Combining audience with form or genre in phrase headings:

Alaska Native newspapers
Almanacs, Children's
Blind, Periodicals for the
Children's encyclopedias and dictionaries
Jewish songbooks
Limericks, Juvenile
Men's magazines
Teenagers’ sermons
Web sites for older people - Heading was established for works about web sites for older people, but could also represent a form heading used for such websites
Young adult fiction
Youths' periodicals

Sometimes the audience or the form is implied in the heading:

Braille periodicals - For sight impaired people
Nursery rhymes - For children
Talking newspapers - Audio newspapers for persons with visual disabilities
Sex instruction for teenagers - Form (handbooks, manuals, etc.) is implied.

Using a form subdivision in combination with a main heading for the audience:

Divorced women $v Life skills guides
Older people $v Life skills guides

Using a form subdivision for the audience in combination with a main heading for the topic:

Bible $v Children’s sermons
English language $v Conversation and phrase books (for gardeners)
Russian language $v Conversation and phrase books (for lawyers)
Astronomy $v Dictionaries, Juvenile
Science $v Encyclopedias, Juvenile
Alcott, Louisa May, $d 1832-1888 $v Juvenile fiction
Halloween $v Juvenile poetry
United States $x Armed Forces $v Non-commissioned officers' handbooks
United States. $b Navy $v Petty officers' handbooks
Hebrew language $v Readers for new literates
Christian education $v Textbooks for adults
Korean language $v Textbooks for foreign speakers

Unlike in LCSH, audience is out of scope for inclusion in LCGFT.  LC’s policy with LCGFT, although there are currently some exceptions (e.g., Children’s atlases; Video recordings for the hearing impaired), is to establish terms that represent just genre or form and not other aspects that may be combined with genre or form in LC subject headings.  Topical, chronological, or geographic subdivision of LCGFT terms is not authorized.  The LCGFT terms are also not intended to repeat data already found elsewhere in a bibliographic record.  Aspects like intended audience for a work will have to be recorded elsewhere in bibliographic or authority records when LCGFT is fully implemented. LCSH form headings like the ones shown above will remain valid, but they will be assigned only to works about forms and genres and the audiences for which they are intended, and not to the works themselves.  The LCSH form subdivisions will also remain authorized for use, but one can envision a future in which form subdivisions that include audience could be cancelled: for example, instead of the string Halloween--Juvenile poetry a cataloger could assign the heading Halloween--Poetry and include the juvenile aspect in an audience facet.

Members of the SAC Subcommittee on Genre/Form Implementation have determined that the recording of the audience for a work or expression will continue to be necessary after LCGFT is fully implemented, and that the MARC 21 Bibliographic and Authority formats do not currently provide a suitable place to record this aspect in a way that will facilitate resource discovery.  What is needed is a facet for audience that can be linked with other aspects such as genre/form and which can be controlled by authority records representing specific types of audiences.

LCSH and several other controlled vocabularies have been used in examples below. The SAC Subcommittee on Genre/Form Implementation is still investigating whether an established controlled vocabulary should be repurposed for the intended audience, or if a new vocabulary should be constructed.


The ALCTS Subject Analysis Committee discussed an initial paper about these issues (available at at the ALA 2012 Midwinter Meeting in Dallas, Texas.  Based on the feedback received there, this discussion paper proposes that a new MARC 21 3XX field for audience characteristics be established in both the Bibliographic and Authority formats.

The subcommittee considered existing fields in the MARC 21 formats.  Information about the audience of a resource already can be recorded in several places in a bibliographic record.  RDA: Resource Description and Access has an element named Intended Audience (RDA 7.7), which is defined as “the class of user for which the content of a resource is intended, or for whom the content is considered suitable, as defined by age group (e.g., children, young adults, adults), educational level (e.g., primary, secondary), type of disability, or other categorization.”  The examples show that the information recorded in this element is formatted as free text and therefore may not be suitable for faceting or indexing.  In other words, it is basically meant as a note:

For children aged 7-9

Intended audience: Clinical students and postgraduate house officers

For remedial reading programs

Recommended for mature audiences

BBFC: 18

MPAA rating: PG-13

FSK ab 12 freigegeben

Indeed, RDA appendix D shows that RDA 7.7 maps to the note area of ISBD.  The RDA to MARC Bibliographic Mapping in the RDA Toolkit maps RDA 7.7 to MARC field 521 (Target Audience Note).

The 521 field can be used for information that identifies the specific audience or intellectual level for which the content of a described resource is considered appropriate.  This is an uncontrolled note field that is not intended for use with indexed controlled vocabulary.  No other 5XX field has been redefined for such use.  Therefore, the subcommittee does not believe that it would be wise to try to repurpose field 521 for use with index terms.

Information about the target audience and/or intellectual level may also be recorded in coded form in field 008/22 (Target Audience) for some types of material.  The data in this field could be used in systems for faceting.  However, there are only eight codes currently defined, and they are limited to very broad audience categories, primarily age groups:

a - Preschool
b - Primary
c - Pre-adolescent
d - Adolescent
e - Adult
f - Specialized
g - General
j - Juvenile

It would be impossible to use this byte in field 008 to code the myriad possibilities for target audience.

In the Authority format, there is currently no place to record information about the intended audience of a work or expression.

Because we deem the existing fields for audience inadequate for the purposes of discovery and faceting or linking with genre/form, we suggest establishing the following new field in both the Bibliographic and Authority formats:

3XX - Audience Characteristics

Field Definition and Scope: A category of persons for which a resource is intended.  Generally recorded in the form of a plural noun (e.g., Asian Americans; Children; Clergy; Dutch; Lawyers; People with disabilities).

Multiple audience characteristics from the same source vocabulary may be recorded in the same field in separate occurrences of subfield $a (Audience category). Terms from different source vocabularies may be recorded in separate occurrences of the field. 

First Indicator - Undefined
# - Undefined

Second Indicator - Undefined
# - Undefined

Subfield Codes
$a - Audience category (R)
$0 - Record control number (R)
$2 - Source of term (NR)
$6 - Linkage (NR)
$8 - Field link and sequence number (R)


N.B.: In the examples below, LCSH literature and general form headings are used provisionally in field 655 in the absence of comparable LCGFT terms, which are still under development.

Title: My first book of limericks

3XX ## $a Children $2 lcsh
655 #0 $a Limericks.

Title: How beautiful the ordinary : twelve stories of identity

3XX ## $a Young adults $2 lcsh
655 #0 $a Short stories.
655 #0 $a Love stories.

Title: Talks to teeners : chapel talks delivered during morning devotions at the Christian High School, Grand Rapids, Michigan

3XX ## $a Teenagers $2 lcsh
655 #0 $a Sermons.

Title: Asperger's syndrome guide for teens and young adults : thriving (not just surviving)

3XX ## $a Teenagers $a Young adults $a Asperger’s syndrome--Patients $2 lcsh
655 #0 $a Life skills guides.

Title: The children's friend [braille] : a fun magazine for blind preteens

3XX ## $a Blind children $a Preteens $2 lcsh
655 #0 $a Braille periodicals.

Title: Health care and HIV : nutritional guide for providers and clients

3XX ## $a HIV-positive persons $a Caregivers $2 lcsh
3XX ## $a HIV Long-Term Survivors $2 mesh
655 #0 $a Handbooks.


Instead of a new 3XX field, SAC and its subcommittee considered several other options, including:

However, SAC members recommended that using the 3XX block would be best because the same tags could be used in both the bibliographic and Authority format.  Using a 6XX field in the Bibliographic format would make it very clear that the data recorded is meant for indexing and retrieval, but it would likely mean that a completely different field (probably 3XX) would have to be used in authority records.

Redefining 656 would create a contradiction with how the field has currently been used.

Two separate fields for audience characteristics and creator/contributor categorizations are preferable to a single one because it would reduce reduce ambiguity about what a term recorded in one of the fields represents.  It would probably also reduce coding errors, and possibly make it easier to separately index or facet the vocabularies used in the fields.

Finally, no other note (5XX) field has yet been explicitly defined for use with index terms and controlled vocabulary.  Because this is not the intended use for these fields it seems undesirable to repurpose the 521 field.


3.1. Do you agree that audience characteristics can be considered an attribute of works and expressions?

3.2. Do you agree that the 3XX block is preferable to the 6XX or any other block of tags for recording index terms for audience characteristics?  (See also question 3.3 below).  Should the tags used in the bibliographic and authorities be the same if possible?

3.3. Would it be better to revise the 521 field to allow it to serve as a place to record controlled vocabulary and terms intended for indexing and faceting?

3.4. A separate discussion paper covers creator/contributor categorizations for works and expressions.  It recommends a different 3XX field for this information.  Do you agree that two separate 3XX fields for audience characteristics and for creator/contributor categorizations are preferable to a single field?

3.5. If a new 3XX is established, there will be some overlap in the information recorded in bibliographic records in the 3XX and 008/22.  Given that the 008/22 is inadequate to record all the possibilities for target audience, should its future use be reconsidered?  Should we make it obsolete and just use the 3XX instead?  If so, should a subfield be included in the 3XX to allow coded values to be recorded like the ones currently used in 008/22 (and new ones as well)?

3.6. The proposed definition of 3XX is “A category of persons for which a resource is intended.”  This focuses on the specific audience for the resource.  Should the new 3XX also be used for categories of persons representing the intellectual level for which the content of a described resource is considered appropriate?

3.7. If a compound string like Asperger's syndrome--Patients is needed from a particular controlled vocabulary, what is the best way to record it in the audience characteristics field? Does the 3XX need to also include subdivision subfields? If so, is just the topical subdivision $x needed?

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