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

MARC Standards

HOME >> MARC Development >> Discussion Paper List


DATE: January 17, 2018

NAME: Defining New Subfield $i in Fields 600-630 of the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format

SOURCE: Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC), Standing Committee on Standards

SUMMARY: This paper discusses adding subfield $i (Relationship information) to the 600-630 group of fields in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format.  The subfield could be used to record a subject relationship designator term to identify more specifically the nature of the relationship between the resource being described and an entity that is topically related.

KEYWORDS: Field 600 (BD); Subject Added Entry-Personal Name (BD); Field 610 (BD); Subject Added Entry-Corporate Name (BD); Field 611 (BD); Subject Added Entry-Meeting Name (BD); Field 630 (BD); Subject Added Entry-Uniform Title (BD); Subfield $i, in 600-630 fields (BD); Relationship information (BD); Subject Relationship Designators (BD); RDA Chapter 23; RDA Appendix M; RDA


01/17/18 – Made available to the MARC community for discussion.

02/10/18 – Results of MARC Advisory Committee discussion: There was general disagreement about this paper in the committee.  Whereas some MAC members expressed support for defining 6XX $i as a way to achieve more granular representation of subject relationships in MARC that could accommodate the ongoing development of RDA and the 3R Project, other MAC members, such as those representing the national libraries and MARC Steering Group (MSG), opposed the proposal, expressing concerns such as: 1) conflict and redundancy between the RDA relationship designators and LCSH form subdivisions, and 2) potential impact on legacy data and older bibliographic descriptions.  After a long discussion, the MAC Chair put forth the view that moving forward with a proposal to which the national libraries and the MSG are opposed would bear little pragmatic value. However, there was consensus that a revised discussion paper presenting real-world examples and a range of possible approaches, may generate a more positive reception.  The PCC Standing Committee on Standards will reconsider this response, and determine whether to resubmit this paper.

Discussion Paper No. 2018-DP01: Defining New Subfield $i in Fields 600-630


In 2015, chapter 23 was added to RDA containing guidelines on recording relationships between works and subjects. Included were guidelines for subject relationships between resources and other resources (Works, Expressions, Manifestations, and Items) as well as Agents (Persons, Families, and Corporate Bodies.) Further expansion of RDA subject relationships to cover Time-span, Place, and Nomen is expected in the future.

RDA instruction 23.5 provides instructions on recording relationship designators to provide more specific information about the nature of the subject relationship between the resource being described and another resource (e.g., commentary in, evaluation of.)  A list of subject relationship designators appears in Appendix M, which complements the instructions in 23.5.

Currently, Appendix M relationship designators may be recorded in MARC bibliographic records in subfield $i of 7XX related work added entries, 7XX linking entries, or incorporated into a 5XX note.  In other words, the only method presently available for recording specific subject relationships between resources (and other entities) is to treat them as bibliographic relationships, not subject relationships. However, RDA specifically distinguishes between these two overall categories of relationship.

For example:

100 1# $a Dyck, Andrew R. $q (Andrew Roy), $d 1947- $e author.
245 12 $a A commentary on Cicero, De legibus / $c Andrew R. Dyck.
700 1# $i Commentary on (work): $a Cicero, Marcus Tullius. $t De legibus.

For libraries that use LCSH, the inclusion of a related work added entry does not supplant the assignment of the appropriate subject heading in 6XX fields.  For the example above, that would be:

600 10 $a Cicero, Marcus Tullius. $t De legibus.

This creates a potential redundancy in records, which could be avoided by recording the subject relationship once in a 6XX field, with the ability to provide more specific information about the nature of the relationship in $i. Since the 6XX block of fields already designates the general relationship as a subject relationship, it would be useful to specify the more specific type of relationship with a designator in those fields.


Fields 600-630 already contain subfields $e (Relator term), $j (Relator term) – used in field 611, and $4 (Relationship).  These subfields could allow catalogers the ability to record information about subject relationships.  However, subfield $e/$j is currently defined as relating agents to works, and its use to relate works or expressions to a work being described would appear to be outside its scope.  Subfield $i has been used in 7XX related work added entry fields to relate works or expressions to works being described.  Defining a subfield for recording subject relationships would lend a greater consistency across the access fields in the MARC format. If it were defined in fields 600-630, it could eliminate the need to record subject relationships in 7XX added entries.  

For example, for the commentary example above, the following could be used to specifically name the type of subject relationship:

100 1# $a Dyck, Andrew R. $q (Andrew Roy), $d 1947- $e author.
245 12 $a A commentary on Cicero, De legibus / $c Andrew R. Dyck.
600 10 $i Commentary on (work): $a Cicero, Marcus Tullius. $t De legibus.

Proposed Change:

In fields 600, 610, 611, and 630 of the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format add the following:

$i - Relationship information (R)
Designation of a specific kind of subject relationship between the resource described in the field and the resource described in the 1XX/245 of the record. This may be in the form of uncontrolled text or a controlled text value.


600 10 $4 $i Commentary on (work): $a Cicero, Marcus Tullius. $t De legibus. $0

600 10 $4 $i Analysis of (work): $a Lucan, $d 39-65. $t Pharsalia. $0

600 10 $4 $i Review of (work): $a Hall, Basil, $d 1788-1844. $t Travels in North America, in the years 1827 and 1828. $0

630 00 $4 $i Critique of (expression): $a Muʻallaqāt. $l English $s (Blunt) $0

600 37 $i Biography of: $a Romanov (Dynasty : $d 1613-1917) $2 naf $0

610 27 $i History of: $a Royal Society (Great Britain) $2 naf $0

610 27 $i Catalog of: $a Museum of V. Tropinin and the Moscow Artists of his Time. $1 $2 gettyulan

600 17 $i Catalogue raisonné of: $a Vasil'yev, Fyodor. $1 $2 gettyulan

630 07 $4 $i Evaluation of (work): $a All's well that ends well (Shakespeare, William) $2 fast $0 (OCoLC)fst01356196 $1

Note that in the fifth and sixth examples, the second indicator is coded as 7 (with $2 naf) rather than 0. This illustrates the potential use of this indicator value to signify the application of NAF terms to construct subject headings that do not follow LCSH conventions. The fifth example, Romanov (Dynasty : 1613-1917), is not valid for use as a subject under LCSH; the sixth example would be properly expressed in LCSH as "Royal Society (Great Britain)--History."  Should LC choose to proscribe the use of RDA relationship designators with LC subject headings, then the first four examples would also be coded with second indicator 7 rather than 0.

The use of an RDA relationship designator in the first example allows the field to express with greater precision the nature of the subject relationship than LCSH could do alone, since the subdivision “Commentaries” is restricted to sacred works.

Finally, it is important to note that relationship designators can be applied to non-LC vocabularies and that the introduction of $i to the 6XX fields may have value beyond the application of LCSH. The last three examples illustrate the use of relationship designators with Getty ULAN and FAST headings.


Slight change to conversion of MARC to BIBFRAME required.


5.1. Is there a demonstrated need for adding subfield $i to these fields?

5.2. Since $e/$j for relator terms already exists in these fields, could/should they be used instead?  Would they need to be re-defined or re-scoped to allow their use with work/expression access points?

5.3. Is it desirable for subject relationships to be coded consistently within the MARC 6XX block?

5.4. What approach to coding subject data will best accommodate the foreseen expansion of RDA subject relationship designators to cover other entities such as Place, Time-span, and Nomen? Currently, subfield $e/$j MARC relators are sometimes used to specify a particular subject relationship, as in the following examples:

651 #0 $a Denver (Colo.), $e setting.

610 20 $a Buckingham Palace (London, England), $e setting.

648 #7 $a 1800-1899, $e setting. $2 fast

650 #7 $a Tang Dynasty (China), $e setting. $2 fast $0 (OCoLC)fst01696781

650 #7 $a Jurassic Geologic Period, $e depicted. $2 fast $0 (OCoLC)fst01353475

651 #7 $a France $z Paris, $e depicted. $2 fast $0 (OCoLC)fst01205283

611 27 $a American Civil War (1861-1865), $j depicted. $2 fast $0 (OCoLC)fst01351658

5.5. Is there a need within MARC for conventions that distinguishes between the use of a vocabulary in accordance with the rules of the originating agency and the use of the same vocabulary under a different set of rules? For example, for LCSH the coding of second indicator 0 could be used to signify the former, and the use of second indicator 7 with $2 lcsh to signify the latter.

HOME >> MARC Development >> Discussion Paper List

The Library of Congress >> Especially for Librarians and Archivists >> Standards
( 04/12/2018 )
Legal | External Link Disclaimer Contact Us