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The Library of Congress > Cataloging, Acquisitions > PCC > CONSER > Publication Patterns Initiative > Basic Compliance with MARC Holdings: a definition

The "The MARC 21 Formats: Background and Principles" (Revised November 1996 http://www.loc.gov/marc/96principl.html) makes two important general statements about the nature of the MARC 21 Formats:

1.1. The MARC 21 formats are standards for the representation and communication of bibliographic and related information in machine-readable form.

2.1. The MARC 21 formats are communication formats, primarily designed to provide specifications for the exchange of bibliographic and related information between systems. They are widely used in a variety of exchange and processing environments. As communication formats, they do not mandate internal storage or display formats to be used by individual systems.

In addition to these statements of purpose, participants in a recent discussion of the concept of "compliance" at the MARC Formats Interest Group at ALA in San Francisco (June 2001), agreed that the MARC 21 Holdings Format is also a "shared logical model" of holdings information.

Given this background, a generally accepted definition of compliance with the MARC 21 Holdings Format might be broken down into three parts:

1. Import. A Library Management System would be considered compliant if it could easily import (as a batch process or one-at-a-time), without loss or corruption of data, properly coded MARC 21 Holdings data from either a bibliographic utility or another library, whether or not that library were a user of the same LMS.

2. Maintenance. A Library Management System would be considered compliant if its software application based its primary processing functions on MARC 21 Holdings Format data, utilizing proprietary models and applications only when important functionality were not possible with MARC data. This does not imply that data must be stored in MARC, but it cannot be stored in a manner that compromises the ability of the library to maintain their standard MARC coded data. As part of the functionality of the system, it should be possible for users to view and update MARC 21 Holdings data in a MARC-tagged form, even if another labelled user interface is also available.

As part of this maintenance obligation, the system vendor must be able to support MARC 21 Format updates as they are implemented by the bibliographic utilities.

3. Export. A Library Management System would be considered compliant if it could easily export (as a batch process or one-at-a-time), without loss or corruption of data, properly coded MARC 21 Holdings data to either a bibliographic utility or another library, whether or not that library were a user of the same LMS.

Diane Hillmann, Ellen Rappaport

August 8, 2001

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