The Library of Congress >> Especially for Librarians and Archivists >> Standards

MARC Standards

HOME >> MARC Development >> Discussion Paper List


DATE: December 14, 2010

NAME: Treatment of Controlled Lists of Terms for Carrier Attributes in RDA and the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format

SOURCE: Library of Congress, Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access (ABA) Directorate

SUMMARY: This paper discusses RDA controlled lists of values for carrier attributes and possible fields and subfields for recording them.

KEYWORDS: RDA; Resource Description and Access; 007 (BD); Carrier attributes; Controlled lists (BD)

RELATED: 2008-DP05/3

12/14/10 – Made available to the MARC 21 community for discussion

1/8/11 - Results of MARC Advisory Committee discussion: Participants agreed that this should come back as a proposal. Examples are needed especially to show when to use field 340. We may need to broaden the definition of field 340; it is used widely in the museum community. Subfield $3 (Materials specified) should be added in the proposed new fields.

Discussion Paper No. 2011-DP04: Treatment of Controlled Lists of Terms for Carrier Attributes


The Library of Congress ABA Directorate has again brought up the suggestion that there be specific MARC fields or subfields for each of the characteristics of carriers currently noted in RDA.  This issue was considered previously in Discussion Paper 2008-DP05/3.  That paper discussed RDA controlled lists of values in relation to various MARC coded value lists, including the RDA content, media, and carrier types and carrier attributes.  The content, media and carrier type terms were accommodated in new fields 336, 337, 338, where new codes for the terms were also specified and the mapping of those terms and codes to the codes in their long time placement in MARC, Leader/06, 007/0 and 007/1, was also identified.  A recommendation was made to use the coded data fields in MARC rather than pursue the establishment of a new fields or subfields for the attributes of carriers.  This required the adjustment of some of the 007 character position values that corresponded to the RDA term carrier attributes.  There was a question about whether, since RDA does not deal with codes for terms, it would be permissible for a data format like MARC to use codes or should the exact terms be recorded.  An RDA authority verified that it was permissible to use coded data in the record.  RDA does not establish codes for any of these attribute values, as that is a storage rather than a cataloging rule issue.  Proposals 2009-01/2 (sections 4.3-4.8) and 2009-06/3 were then considered which made adjustments to the corresponding attribute lists in MARC. 

There is again concern about recording the RDA terms as catalogers do not understand the relationship between the code positions in MARC and the rule numbers and lists in RDA.  Therefore the following ideas from Discussion Paper No. 2008-DP05/3 need to be reconsidered.

RDA Chapter 3 concerns recording physical characteristics that relate to describing carriers of resources. For each media type RDA provides instructions for recording the carrier (Field 338) and attributes of the carrier in a structured form (often accompanied by an open vocabulary list) and in note form. The implication is that the structured form is preferred and the note supplements it.

Sections 2.2-2.3 of this paper discusses MARC fields appropriate to carry the structured information, the notes, and, where appropriate, coded values for the media and carrier information. Consideration is given to whether it is useful to identify the information with content designation, since detail and content designation add to cataloging costs.


2.1 Carrier attributes under discussion

RDA Chapter 3 is organized into a series of subparts treating certain physical aspects of resources at a general level and then contains four sections of more specialized aspects, as follows.

Physical aspects
            Extent - RDA 3.4
            Dimensions - RDA 3.5
            Base material - RDA 3.6
            Applied material - RDA 3.7
            Mount - RDA 3.8
            Production method - RDA 3.9
            Generation - RDA 3.10           
            Layout - RDA 3.11
            Book format - RDA 3.12
            Font size- RDA 3.13
            Polarity - RDA 3.14
            Reduction ratio - RDA 3.15
Specialized groups of physical characteristics
            Sound recording characteristics - RDA 3.16
            Projection characteristics of Motion Picture film - RDA 3.17
            Video characteristics - RDA 3.18
            Digital file characteristics - RDA 3.19

2.2 Structured textual descriptions of carriers in RDA

Field 300 provides subfields that could be used to record most of the carrier attribute information. Extent and Dimensions are specifically identified in subfields $a and $c. Subfield $b could be used for the other RDA carrier attributes.


300 ## $a6 maps on 1 sheet : $bboth sides, col., plastic-treated ; $c97 x 102 cm. or smaller, sheet 148 x 107 cm

However, there is concern about recording many carrier elements in 300 $b as they cannot be distinguished for manipulation and display.  Separate content designation would provide automated support for the user tasks of finding, identifying and selecting resources based on these attributes, and will allow for better mapping to other metadata schemes without a loss of granularity.

To accommodate cases where identification of each carrier attribute is desired, Field 340 could be augmented to record the carrier attributes in a manner that identifies the type of attribute. Adding subfield $2 to field 340 for Source would allow recording the use of the RDA or any other vocabulary source for terms. The field would be repeated for each different vocabulary source used.

Four additional fields could be added to record special groups of carrier characteristics specific to Sound, projection, video, and digital files.

2.3 Notes pertaining to carrier attributes

RDA 3.20 specifies a note pertaining to equipment or system requirements related to carriers.  MARC already has a note field for that information, Field 538 (System Details Note).

RDA 3.21 specifies item-specific carrier characteristics with examples of notes on imperfections, details of holdings, and other item-specific notes, e.g.:
            Library's copy lacks appendices, p.245-260
            Library set lacks slides 7-9
            Signed: Alex. Pope
Also RDA 3.22 specifies other notes pertaining to various aspects of carriers.  The mapping to MARC for RDA 3.22 that was carried out by the JSC in 2007 indicated that other notes pertaining to carrier attributes would be in field 500. There they cannot be distinguished as to the attribute to which they pertain, if that is desirable. Since it would be expected that the notes about different attributes would be carried in separate 500 note fields, a subfield $i could be added to Field 500 for the attribute name as follows.


500 ## $aPlates 4, 5, and 9 are wanting $5DLC
500 ## $iApplied material:$aEgg tempera paint with tooled gold-leaf halos.
500 ## $iMount:$aMounted on starched linen.

The new subfield $i could also be useful in other situations.

500 ## $iEdition and history:$aPrevious ed.: Harmondsworth : Penguin, 1950.
500 ## $iEdition and history:$aBased on a play which originally appeared in France as Un peu plus tard, un peu plus tôt.
500 ## $iNature, scope, or artistic form:$aPlay in 3 acts.
500 ## $iSource of title proper:$aCaption title.

Question: Extra content designation for introductory phrases has not been requested for field 500 in the past; is the extra subfield needed?

Alternatively, for RDA 3.22 notes, the 340, 344, 345, 356, and 347 fields could have a note subfield where notes pertaining to the attributes in that subfield would be lodged.

HOME >> MARC Development >> Discussion Paper List

The Library of Congress >> Especially for Librarians and Archivists >> Standards
( 02/04/2011 )
Legal | External Link Disclaimer Contact Us