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The Library of Congress > Cataloging, Acquisitions > PCC > CONSER > Cataloging Issues > Use of Fixed Fields & Leader Codes in CONSER Records

[Note: Since update 8, this text has been included in CONSER Editing Guide "Fixed Fields--General Information"]

The Decision Process in Coding CONSER Records

Coding records correctly involves making a number of decisions. How one actually implements the decisions depends on the system being used for cataloging. For instance, on OCLC, the cataloger begins by deciding which workform to use: serials, books, computer file, etc. In order to select the appropriate workform, however, the cataloger must have decided what the primary characteristics are (leader/06 "type of record") and, in the case of language-based materials, whether the item being cataloged is a monograph or a serial (leader/07 "bibliographic level"). Thus, it is important to understand the various aspects of the fixed fields and how they interrelate in records.

First, determine the primary characteristics of the content. Is it primarily language, numeric data, computer programs, music, cartographic material, etc.? This decision is made by consulting the definitions of the codes in the "type of record" (leader/06). Determining the primary characteristic for electronic resources changed in early 1998 with the redefinition of code "m" (computer file) and is explained below under "Electronic serials."

Second, determine whether the item is a monograph or a serial by applying the current definitions in AACR2. The definition of serial may change in the future but for now, a serial must consist of successively-issued designated parts and be intended to continue indefinitely. This decision governs the code that will be used in the "bibliographic level" (leader/07).

These determinations govern which 008 fixed field will be used. For language materials, the code in the "bibliographic level" determines whether the books or serials 008 is appropriate. For all other materials, the "type of record" code alone determines the appropriate 008. In some systems, such as OCLC, leader and 008 bytes are combined in a single display using mnemonics.

Third, determine whether the item being cataloged is multidimensional and requires the use of one or more 006 fields to record further characteristics that could not be accommodated in field 008. For instance, an electronic serial requires both computer file and serial fixed field data. The decision as to the primary characteristics will determine whether the serial data is recorded in field 008 or in field 006.

Fourth, depending on the type of material, determine whether the physical characteristics fixed field 007 is needed, as explained below.

Following are specific guidelines for different types of serials and the use of coded data in CONSER records.

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Printed language-based serials (including microforms)

Printed serials that are primarily language material are cataloged using the serials fixed field (field 008). For these serials, the "type of record" (leader/06) is coded "a" (language material) and the "bibliographic level" (leader/07) is coded "s" (serial).

Field 006 is not used under any circumstances in print records. There are two situations in which fixed field 007 may be used in print records. Both are optional.

  1. Accompanying material in another format. When a printed serial has accompanying material, such as a CD-ROM, field 007 may be given to express the physical characteristics of the accompanying material.
  2. Single record approach for online versions. CONSER members have agreed to not use the electronic resource 007 on the print record when using the single record approach for online serials.

Microform serials that are language-based are treated in the same way as printed serials (i.e., "type of record" code "a", "bibliographic level" code "s" and serials 008). Field 007 is mandatory in microform records.

Electronic serials and integrating resources

"Type of record" (Leader/06) code "m"

Prior to format integration, CONSER catalogers used the OCLC "serials format" (Type = a; BLvl = s) to catalog electronic serials. After format integration was completed in March 1996, all electronic serials were cataloged using the computer file fixed field (Type = m; BLvl = s). Existing records created in the serials format prior to format integration were converted by OCLC to the computer file format.

A new definition of "type of record" code "m" was implemented in February 1998, which restricted the use of the computer file 008 to "computer file software (including programs, games, fonts), numeric data, computer-oriented multimedia, and online systems and services." Under the revised definition, electronic serials that are primarily textual by nature are coded as "type of record" code "a" (language material). This means that the majority of serials once again are cataloged using the serials 008 fixed field. However, electronic serials that fit into one of the categories in the code "m" definition are cataloged using the computer file 008. (For further explanation of these categories, see "type of record" (leader/06) and "type of computer file" (008/26).

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Field 006 electronic serials and integrating resources

Field 006 is mandatory in all records for electronic serials and integrating resources, whether it contains the computer file characteristics when the continuing resources 008 is used, or the continuing resources characteristics when the computer file, cartographic or other 008 is used.

The mandatory use of field 006 for computer file characteristics is a means of identifying the carrier of the item. With the redefinition of leader/06 code "m", the presence of field 006 with code "m" in the first byte ("form of material" 006/00) allows OCLC and other systems to identify records for electronic resources for purposes of searching and duplicate detection. Note that the definitions for the two "m" codes differ. The definition of code "m" in the leader is very specific to the content, as noted above. The definition of code "m" in 006/00 reads: "Code m is used to identify field 006 as containing coded data elements relating to a computer file." For current purposes, interpret this statement as applying to any resource whose carrier is electronic, regardless of the nature of the content.

For example, a separately-cataloged online version of a journal whose content is primarily textual would be coded "a" in the "type of material" because it does not fit into one of the categories in the definition of "type of record" code "m". The presence of field 006 with code "m" in the first byte identifies this record as representing the electronic version and distinguishes the record from the record for the print version.

Interim practice for coding type of record and field 006, electronic integrating resources

Bibliographic level "i," was developed to identify integrating resources in anticipation of the 2002 AACR2 rule revisions. Used in conjunction with type of record code "a" (language material) it generates a continuing resources 008. (When appropriate, it can also be used in conjunction with type of record code "m" for electronic integrating resources that meet the strict computer file definitions specified for code "m," to generate a computer file 008). Since bibliographic level code "i" will not be available until at the earliest, mid-2003, an interim coding practice has been established. Electronic integrating resources that are mainly textual, are coded type of record "a," and bibliographic level "m." A continuing resource 006 and a computer file 006 are also added to the record to assure that the record contains fixed field elements for continuing resources and computer files. Integrating resources that meet the definition of record code "m" contain only the continuing resource 006. See CEG B.7 for further information.

Form of item (008/23) code "s" electronic

Code "s" in the continuing resource 008 was implemented in the spring of 2000 for both "form of item" (008/23) and "form of original item" (008/22). OCLC also added the new code "s" to the 008/23 of existing records in the spring of 2000. The current practice for coding records for textual electronic serials is to use code "s" in field 008/23 and code "m" in field 006/00. [N.B.: OCLC and other systems still use the 006 form codes for retrieval, record matching, and duplicate detection.]

Field 007

Field 007 is mandatory in records for electronic serials and electronic integrating resources

For electronic versions that are to be noted using a single record approach, refer to the section above covering print records.

Map, sound recording, videorecording serials and integrating resources

For these serials the appropriate 008 fixed field is based on the "type of record" code for that physical format. For example, a serial videorecording is cataloged using "type of record" code "g", "bibliographic level" code "s", the visual materials 008 fixed field, and a serial 006 field.

Field 007 is optional for these serials.

Serials and integrating resources with multiple characteristics (e.g., serially-issued electronic map or cartographic Website)

Continuing resources that have multiple characteristics are coded according to the primary characteristics of their content. Thus, a serially-issued map in electronic form is coded with "type of record" code "e" (cartographic material) and "bibliographic level" code "s." The map 008 fixed field is used. Two 006 fields must also be given to accommodate the serial and computer file characteristics.

Field 007 must be given for the computer file physical characteristics and may, optionally, also be given for the physical characteristics of the atlas. As noted above, use of the 007 for maps, sound recordings and videorecordings is optional.

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