MARC standards
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MARC (machine-readable cataloging) standards are a set of
digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital electronics Digital electronics is a field of electronics Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology a ...
formats for the description of items catalogued by libraries, such as books. Computerized library catalogs and library management software need to structure their catalog records as per a industry-wide standard, which is MARC, so that bibliographic information can be shared freely between computers. The structure of bibliographic records almost universally follow the MARC standard. Other standards work in conjunction with MARC, for example,
Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules ''Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules'' (AACR) were an international library cataloging Technical standard, standard. First published in 1967 and edited by C. Sumner Spalding, a second edition (AACR2) edited by Michael Gorman (librarian), Michael Go ...
(AACR)/
Resource Description and AccessResource Description and Access (RDA) is a standard for descriptive cataloging initially released in June 2010, providing instructions and guidelines on formulating bibliographic data. Intended for use by libraries A library is a curated col ...
(RDA) provide guidelines on formulating bibliographic data into the MARC record structure, while the
International Standard Bibliographic DescriptionThe International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD) is a set of rules produced by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) to create a bibliographic description in a standard, human-readable form, especiall ...
(ISBD) provides guidelines for displaying MARC records in a standard, human-readable form.


History

Working with the
Library of Congress The Library of Congress (LC) is the research library A library is a curated collection of sources of information and similar resources, made accessible to a defined community for reference or borrowing. It provides physical or electronic ...

Library of Congress
, American computer scientist Henriette Avram developed MARC in the 1960s to create records that could be read by computers and shared among libraries. By 1971, MARC formats had become the US national standard for dissemination of bibliographic data. Two years later, they became the
international standard An international standard is a technical standard developed by one or more international standards organization, standards organizations. International standards are available for consideration and use worldwide. The most prominent such organizatio ...
. There are several versions of MARC in use around the world, the most predominant being
MARC 21 MARC (machine-readable cataloging) standards are a set of digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital electronics Digital electronics is a field of electron ...
, created in 1999 as a result of the harmonization of U.S. and Canadian MARC formats, and UNIMARC. UNIMARC is maintained by the Permanent UNIMARC Committee of the
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) is the leading international body representing the interests of people who rely on Library, libraries and information professionals. An independent, non-governmental, not ...
(IFLA), and is widely used in Europe. The MARC 21 family of standards now includes formats for authority records, holdings records, classification schedules, and community information, in addition to the format for
bibliographic recordA bibliographic record is an entry in a bibliographic index (or a library catalog) which represents and describes a specific resource. A bibliographic record contains the data elements necessary to help users identify and retrieve that resource, as w ...
s.


Record structure and field designations

The MARC standards define three aspects of a MARC record: the field designations within each record, the structure of the record, and the actual content of the record itself.


Field designations

Each field in a MARC record provides particular information about the item the record is describing, such as the author, title, publisher, date, language, media type, etc. Since it was first developed at a time when computing power was low, and space precious, MARC uses a simple three-digit numeric code (from 001-999) to identify each field in the record. MARC defines field 100 as the primary author of a work, field 245 as the title and field 260 as the publisher, for example. Fields above 008 are further divided into subfields using a single letter or number designation. The 260, for example, is further divided into subfield "a" for the place of publication, "b" for the name of the publisher, and "c" for the date of publication.


Record structure

MARC records are typically stored and transmitted as binary files, usually with several MARC records concatenated together into a single file. MARC uses the ISO 2709 standard to define the structure of each record. This includes a marker to indicate where each record begins and ends, as well as a set of characters at the beginning of each record that provide a directory for locating the fields and subfields within the record. In 2002, the Library of Congress developed the MARCXML schema as an alternative record structure, allowing MARC records to be represented in
XML Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a markup language #REDIRECT Markup language In computer text processing, a markup language is a system for annotation, annotating a document in a way that is Syntax (logic), syntactically distinguishable fro ...

XML
; the fields remain the same, but those fields are expressed in the record in XML markup. Libraries typically expose their records as MARCXML via a
web service The term Web service (WS) is either: * a service offered by an electronic device to another electronic device, communicating with each other via the World Wide Web upright=1.35, A global map of the web index for countries in 2014 The World ...
, often following the SRU or
OAI-PMHThe Open Archives Initiative The Open Archives Initiative (OAI) was an in formal organization, in the circle around the colleagues Herbert Van de Sompel, Carl Lagoze, Michael L. Nelson and Simeon Warner, to develop and apply technical interoperabil ...

OAI-PMH
standards.


Content

MARC encodes information about a bibliographic item, not about the content of that item; this means it is a
metadata Metadata is "data that provides information about other data", but not the content of the data, such as the text of a message or the image itself. There are many distinct types of metadata, including: * Descriptive metadata — the descriptive i ...

metadata
transmission standard, not a content standard. The actual content that a cataloger places in each MARC field is usually governed and defined by standards outside of MARC, except for a handful of fixed fields defined by the MARC standards themselves.
Resource Description and AccessResource Description and Access (RDA) is a standard for descriptive cataloging initially released in June 2010, providing instructions and guidelines on formulating bibliographic data. Intended for use by libraries A library is a curated col ...
, for example, defines how the physical characteristics of books and other items should be expressed. The
Library of Congress Subject HeadingsThe Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) comprise a thesaurus A thesaurus (plural ''thesauri'' or ''thesauruses'') or synonym dictionary is a reference work for finding synonyms and sometimes antonyms of words. They are often used by wr ...
(LCSH) are a list of authorized subject terms used to describe the main subject content of the work. Other cataloging rules and classification schedules can also be used.


MARC formats


MARC 21

MARC 21 was designed to redefine the original MARC record format for the 21st century and to make it more accessible to the international community. MARC 21 has formats for the following five types of data: Bibliographic Format, Authority Format, Holdings Format, Community Format, and Classification Data Format. Currently MARC 21 has been implemented successfully by The
British Library The British Library is the national library A national library is a library A library is a curated collection of sources of information and similar resources, made accessible to a defined community for reference or borrowing. It provid ...

British Library
, the European Institutions and the major library institutions in the United States, and
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of . Its extend from the to the and northward into the , covering , making it the world's . Its southern and western , stretching , is the world's longest bi-national land border. Canada's capital ...

Canada
. MARC 21 is a result of the combination of the United States and Canadian MARC formats (USMARC and CAN/MARC). MARC 21 is based on the NISO/
ANSI The American National Standards Institute (ANSI ) is a private non-profit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized ...
standard Z39.2, which allows users of different software products to communicate with each other and to exchange data.
Joudrey and Taylor, Organization of Information Andrew David Joudrey (born July 15, 1984) is a former Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, many (or a ...
, p. 262
MARC 21 allows the use of two
character sets In computing, Computer data storage, data storage, and data transmission, character encoding is used to represent a repertoire of character (computing), characters by some kind of code, encoding system that assigns a number to each character for ...
, either
MARC-8The MARC-8 charset is a MARC standard used in MARC-21 library records. The MARC formats are standards for the representation and communication of bibliographic and related information in machine-readable form, and they are frequently used in libra ...
or
Unicode Unicode, formally the Unicode Standard, is an information technology standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention or requireme ...

Unicode
encoded as
UTF-8 UTF-8 is a variable-width character encoding In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development ...
. MARC-8 is based on
ISO 2022 ISO/IEC 2022 ''Information technology—Character code structure and extension techniques'', is an ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard are technical standards developed by internationa ...
and allows the use of Hebrew, Cyrillic, Arabic, Greek, and East Asian scripts. MARC 21 in UTF-8 format allows all the languages supported by Unicode.


MARCXML

MARCXML is an XML schema based on the common MARC 21 standards. MARCXML was developed by the
Library of Congress The Library of Congress (LC) is the research library A library is a curated collection of sources of information and similar resources, made accessible to a defined community for reference or borrowing. It provides physical or electronic ...

Library of Congress
and adopted by it and others as a means of facilitating the sharing of, and networked access to, bibliographic information. Being easy to parse by various systems allows it to be used as an aggregation format, as it is in software packages such as MetaLib, though that package merges it into a wider Document Type Definition, DTD specification. The MARCXML primary design goals included: * Simplicity of the schema * Flexibility and extensibility * Lossless and reversible conversion from MARC * Data presentation through XML stylesheets * MARC records updates and data conversions through XML transformations * Existence of validation tools


Future

The future of the MARC formats is a matter of some debate among libraries. On the one hand, the storage formats are quite complex and are based on outdated technology. On the other, there is no alternative bibliographic format with an equivalent degree of granularity. The billions of MARC records in tens of thousands of individual libraries (including over 50,000,000 records belonging to the Online Computer Library Center, OCLC consortium alone) create inertia. The Library of Congress has launched the Bibliographic Framework Initiative (BIBFRAME), which aims at providing a replacement for MARC that provides greater granularity and easier re-use of the data expressed in multiple catalogs. Beginning in 2013, OCLC Research exposed data detailing how various MARC elements have been used by libraries in the 400 million MARC records (as of early 2018) contained in WorldCat. The MARC formats are managed by the MARC Steering Group, which is advised by the MARC Advisory Committee. Proposals for changes to MARC are submitted to the MARC Advisory Committee and discussed in public at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter and ALA Annual meetings.


See also

* Cataloging *
International Standard Bibliographic DescriptionThe International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD) is a set of rules produced by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) to create a bibliographic description in a standard, human-readable form, especiall ...
(ISBD) * ISO 2709 * JACKPHY * (MAB) * Metadata and metadata standards * Z39.50 * ONIX for Books


References

* Reitz, J. M. (2004
Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science


Further reading

* * * * *


External links


Understanding MARC Bibliographic Machine Readable Cataloging
a good introduction

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* *
Amazon to MARC Converter



MARC Records with Books From India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan

NISO/ANSI Z39.2





Library of Congress: MARCXML



Interpreting MARC: Where’s the Bibliographic Data?
by Jason Thomale Code4Lib Journal Issue 11, 2010-09-21 {{Authority control Bibliography file formats Library automation Library cataloging and classification Library of Congress Metadata publishing XML-based standards Country codes Metadata standards