Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

August 4, 1994

Library of Congress and British Library Meet To Consider MARC Modifications

Representatives from the Library of Congress (LC) and the British Library (BL) met June 21 to discuss potential modifications to USMARC and UKMARC formats in an effort to increase compatibility and ultimately merge the two versions into a single design.

The June 21 council was the first step in a continuous effort to develop a more simplified MARC system that would decrease the redundancy of work required to transfer files as well as facilitate the sharing of bibliographic records. Under the present system, both the LC and BL must maintain conversion programs to process each other's records.

The council also proposed the inclusion of Canada's CANMARC in the integration process and discussed the relationship between the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules (AACR) and MARC formats.

Although USMARC and UKMARC are comparably constructed, differences in punctuation, labeling and filing procedures make the two formats incompatible. Because changes to increase compatibility would force all MARC users in Britain and the United States to modify their systems, council representatives said both libraries would extensively consult with MARC users before considering any proposed changes.

To understand the differences between the two MARC systems, the LC and BL are preparing discussion papers on the essential features of UKMARC that are not already in USMARC. The papers are being prepared for a November 8-9 meeting at the Library of Congress of representatives of the LC, BL and the National Library of Canada (NLC).

The LC and NLC are already involved in a similar examination of USMARC and CANMARC. Representatives at the November meeting will review the completed discussion papers in a bid to draft proposals to integrate the three formats without disruption. The NLC will be actively involved in all future MARC councils.

Library representatives also proposed preparing discussion papers on the links between AACR and MARC formats. Council representatives said such an investigation could simplify and reduce costs in the creation of records.

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PR 94-127
ISSN 0731-3527

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