DATE: December 15, 1996

NAME: Subentity Codes for Country of Publication and Geographic Area

SOURCE: Library of Congress

SUMMARY: This paper explores the establishment of codes for subentities other than the U.S., Canada and U.K. in the USMARC Code List for Countries and Geographic Areas. It suggests the definition of new subfields in field 043 (Geographic Area Code) and 044 (Country of Publishing/Producing Entity Code) for coding below the country level. Control of subentity codes is needed, and lists could be published in the relevant code lists as an appendix based on requests by countries.

KEYWORDS: Field 044; Field 043; Geographic Area Code; Country of Publishing/Producing Entity Code; Subentity code



12/15/96 - Forwarded to USMARC Advisory Group for discussion at the 1997 Midwinter MARBI meetings.

2/17/97 - Results of USMARC Advisory Group discussion - Participants agreed that there was a need to code for subentities. Discussion favored defining subfields in fields 043 and 044 for the full ISO code (once the ISO standard has been approved. An additional subfield should be added to allow for local extensions. A model for this technique is found in fields 033 (Date/Time and Place of an Event) and field 052 (Geographic Classification Code), which has separate subfields for geographic classification area code and geographic classification subarea code. LC should prepare a proposal for the next meeting for this change.

DISCUSSION PAPER NO. 98: Subentity Codes for Country of
Publication and Geographic Area


As MARC use expands, some countries would like to be able to code
for subentities under the country level in the geographic area and
country codes.  Australia uses them and a query recently came to
the Network Development and MARC Standards Office inquiring about
the use of them for Brazil.  It is likely that additional countries
will request such expansion.   In order to interchange records
without preprocessing and to have customers in other countries
inputting to other systems, the MARC code lists will need to
accommodate this.  It is desirable to standardize subentity codes,
and they could appear as an appendix to the USMARC Code List for
Countries and Geographic Areas so that systems can validate them. 
Any expansion to the lists will be based on requests of particular


The USMARC Code List for Countries contains a list of places with
their associated two- or three-character lowercase alphabetic codes
for presently existing national entities.  In addition, subentity
codes (i.e., for entities below the country level) for states of
the United States, provinces and territories of Canada, divisions
of the United Kingdom, and internationally recognized dependencies
are included.  The list allows the designation of place associated
with an item.  Country codes are used in 008/15-17 (Country of
publication code) or field 044 (Country of Publishing/Producing
Entity Code) as well as 535$g, 775$f, 851$g and 852$n.  The USMARC
Code List for Geographic Areas contains a list of geographic areas
and their associated one- to seven-character codes.  These include
separate codes for countries, regions, and geographic features.  In
addition it includes first order political divisions of the United
States, Canada, the United Kingdom, China, and Australia.  The
geographic area code is used in field 043 (Geographic Area Code).

Country of publication and geographic area codes may be used in
some systems to qualify searches.  The three subentity lists in the
USMARC Code List for Countries use one character for the country
and two for the subentity.  Because the 008 only has three
character positions for country code and only 26 subentity lists
could be accommodated using the current pattern, it is preferable
to establish a subfield for subentities.  In the GAC list only two
characters are used for subentities.  The GAC country codes are
about 98% the same as the country of publication codes, and the GAC
subentity codes are the same as those in the country of publication
code list where they exist in the latter.  Both lists use alpha
characters only. 

There is a Draft International Standard for country subdivision
codes currently undergoing review and ballotting.  This is being
circulated as ISO 3166 part 2 (Codes for the representation of
names of countries and their subdivisions. Part 2: Country
subdivision codes).  It allows one, two, or three characters for
the codes that can either be alpha or numeric.  It is up to the
country concerned to choose and suggest their own codes for the
standard.  There is not a consistent syntax for establishing them,
nor is there consistency as to at what level they are established.
Some countries use numerics, others alphas in the subentity code
that is appended to the ISO 3166 part 1 country code.  A one-to-one
correspondence with country names in ISO 3166 part 1 is maintained. 
The USMARC Code List for Countries does not use the same country
codes as the ISO list, although it does remain entity compatible.

In many cases the ISO list cannot be used, because the same
subentity codes should be used for both country and geographic area
codes, and the ISO list does not meet the constraints of the GACs. 
When a subentity list is requested by a country, the codes would
have to be worked out considering various factors: the ISO list,
the subentities in GAC that are not in the country list (i.e.,
China and Australia), and the preferences of the country.  

Subentity codes would only be established if requested by a
country.  They would be published in the USMARC country code and
geographic area code lists as an addendum so that systems can
validate them and accept records using them.  However, LC may not
use them in its records and would not be responsible for
maintaining the lists, for instance adding new ones or changing
existing ones.


1.  Should a new subfield be established for subentities in field
043 and 044?  

2.  Should the ISO 3166 part 2 list be considered in establishing

3.  If lists of subentities were published as an addendum to the
USMARC Code List for Countries and USMARC Code List for Geographic
Areas, what impact would this have on systems that would have to
validate them?

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