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DATE: December 22, 2020

NAME: Recording the Type of Binding for Manifestations in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format

SOURCE: MARC/RDA Working Group

SUMMARY: This paper proposes RDA's controlled list of values for 'type of binding' and how to code this data in the MARC 21 Bibliographic format.

KEYWORDS: Type of Binding (BD); Field 340 (BD); Physical Medium (BD); Vocabulary Encoding Schemes (BD); RDA Toolkit Restructure and Redesign Project; RDA

RELATED: 2020-DP17

12/22/20 – Made available to the MARC community for discussion.

01/27/21 – Results of MARC Advisory Committee discussion: Withdrawn for further development. As proposed, the label and scope of 340 subfield $l are too restrictive to support binding vocabularies such as the Art & Architecture Thesaurus (Getty), the Language of Bindings Thesaurus ( and Binding Terms (RBMS). Members of the MARC/RDA Working Group will liaise with MAC representatives to VRA, ARLIS/NA, PCC and SAC in order to address this issue as part of a follow-up paper.

04/28/21 - Results of MARC Steering Group review - Agreed with the MAC decision.

Proposal No. 2021-10: Recording the Type of Binding for Manifestations


The RDA Toolkit Restructure and Redesign Project (3R) has introduced a new Manifestation level element "type of binding" to the RDA element set. Type of binding is defined as:

"A method used to bind a published or unpublished manifestation."

The element is intended for recording a standard method of binding of a manifestation with a value of Manifestation: carrier type of "volume"; defined as: "A carrier type that consists of one or more sheets bound or fastened together to form a single unit".

Information about binding can already be recorded in various parts of the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format. For instance, it can occur in subfield $q (Qualifying information) after the ISBN in the 020 field (International Standard Book Number). Likewise, it is aligned to field 024 (Other Standard Identifier) subfield $q and 027 (Standard Technical Report Number) subfield $q. In these contexts the subfield $q represents an unstructured qualifier to the relevant standard number. Recording a type of binding can also be done using field 563 (Binding Information) subfield $a. Again, in this context data may be recorded using an unstructured form of note.

Although it is possible to express a type of binding using an unstructured (i.e. free text) approach in MARC 21, the new RDA also allows this element to be recorded in a variety of other ways. These in turn offer the potential of enhanced functionality in a catalog search and collection management context. For example, recording RDA’s controlled terms for type of binding could be used to provide a more structured means of indexing and faceting binding information for library users. Likewise, these terms could be used to simplify the process of making resource selection, and preservation decisions at the collection level. In addition, since these controlled terms for type of binding are all associated with corresponding RDA Registry URIs, this element's vocabulary could also be used to support linked data applications. In order to exploit the full potential offered by the RDA "type of binding" element, this paper recommends that new encoding is specified to carry it in the MARC Bibliographic format.

RDA does not make the recording of type of binding information a required aspect of resource description. The community may choose to not record this data element in a cooperative environment, or record this data only for certain material as per their application profile.


The new RDA element "type of binding" is associated with its own vocabulary encoding scheme as set out below:

board book binding
case binding
closed ring binding
comb binding
open ring binding
perfect binding
saddle stitch binding

slide binding
spiral binding
springback binding


The element is not intended to apply to a binding applied to an item after its publication or production.

There is also the option in RDA to record another term from a different vocabulary encoding scheme if that is desired.

As previously noted in MARC Discussion Paper No. 2020-DP17, various categories of binding may already be expressed in the MARC Bibliographic format in an unstructured way; however the existing provision is limited in various regards. Hence, although 020, 024 and 027 $q offer the means to record binding information, this subfield is also used for other purposes; its broad scope is defined as follows:

$q - Qualifying information
A brief statement of qualifying information concerning the item associated with a number being recorded in subfield $a or subfield $z.

 The following examples demonstrate a range of applications unrelated to binding:

020 ##$a9780060723804$qacid-free paper 

020 ##$a9780060799748$qtrade

020 ##$a0717941728$qfolded$c$0.45

Indeed, even when binding information is recorded, the notation used is subject to variation as the following examples demonstrate:

020 ##$a0394170660$qRandom House$qpaperback$c$4.95

020 ##$a0835200019$qpbk.$c$2.95

The generalized and uncontrolled nature of 020, 024 and 027 $q content means that it is ill adapted for supporting more than the most rudimentary search functionality. The alternative means of recording binding information in MARC are also limited. Although field 563 is simply labeled "Binding Information", its definition and scope indicate that its principal usage is constrained:

Field 563 Definition and Scope:
Binding information intended primarily for use with antiquarian materials, rare books and other special collections.
It is not intended for serials bound together after publication for shelving and storage purposes.

Furthermore, like 020, 024 and 027 $q, the 563 field is designed to carry an unstructured note, rather than controlled term. The following examples demonstrate this:

563 ##$aLate 16th century blind-tooled centrepiece binding, dark brown calf.$5StEdNL 

563 ##$aGold-tooled morocco binding by Benjamin West, ca. 1840.$5Uk

It is also notable that field 563 may be used to record a Uniform Resource Identifier in subfield $u. However, as the definition of $u indicates, this is for purposes of referencing an electronic item rather than a vocabulary encoding scheme for a controlled term:

$u - Uniform Resource Identifier
Uniform Resource Identifier (URI), for example a URL or URN, which provides electronic access data in a standard syntax. This data may be used for automated access to an electronic item using one of the Internet protocols.

In addition, a significant consideration as regards the application of field 563 is that early printed books were often originally sold without any binding attached to them in the first instance. A binding might have been subsequently added by the owner of the item and so different items exemplifying the same manifestation may carry different bindings as a result. Under these circumstances the RDA element "type of binding" would be out of scope because it is expressed as a manifestation attribute; a separate RDA element "binding of item" or, "modification of item" could be used to express this concept as a relationship instead.

As described above, the existing coding in MARC fields 020, 024, 027 and 563 offers limited, unstructured means to record type of binding information.  In the case of field 020, its application in relation to binding type can also be ambiguous. If, for example, a resource description carries subfield $q qualifiers for both hardback and paperback binding, then this raises the question of which binding relates to the physical details recorded in field 300 (Physical Description). The dimensions, font size and other physical characteristics of a manifestation may vary according to the binding which accompanies it. Going forward, it would be desirable to express type of binding in an unambiguous way which relates the value recorded to other aspects of physical description expressed in the same bibliographic record.

In multiple unit manifestations the type of binding may vary between the component volumes. If a decision is made to describe the manifestation as a whole, rather than as individual components, the type of binding element can be repeated.

Bibliographic Field 340

Field 340 (Physical Medium) in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format offers the potential to record the type of binding in a more structured and unambiguous way than those fields listed above; it also allows for the recording of URIs. Field 340 is already used to express a wide variety of manifestation entity level RDA vocabularies in MARC. These include the vocabularies for production method, generation, layout, font size and polarity. A full list of existing 340 subfields is given below, followed by the field's definition and scope:

Field Definition and Scope:
Physical description information for an item that requires technical equipment for its use, and/or more granular description information of an item's material properties to facilitate access and discovery or to support collection management.
Coded physical information is contained in field 007 (Physical Description Fixed Field) and field 008 (Fixed-Length Data Elements). The field is repeated for each subfield $3 (Materials specified).
Multiple values from the same source vocabulary may be recorded in the same field in separate occurrences of subfields. Terms from different source vocabularies are recorded in separate occurrences of the field.

As indicated by its definition and scope, field 340 allows for the description of a resource’s physical attributes in a focused way as a means of supporting discovery, access and management information functions. The inclusion of subfield $2 (Source) in its list of subfields means that it is optimized for recording terms from a controlled vocabulary. Likewise, the presence of subfields $0 and $1 mean that it can also be used to carry URIs associated with those terms.


It is proposed to add another subfield to MARC 21 Bibliographic Format field 340 to carry type of binding information. This would be to record a structured description using the RDA vocabulary encoding scheme.

In field 340 (Physical Medium) of the Bibliographic format, define $l as follows:

$l – Type of binding (R)
A method used to bind a published or unpublished manifestation.


The following examples present three illustrations of type of binding in field 340 $l. The subfield $2 code "rdatb" is modeled on the anticipated curie for RDA Registry URIs associated with the vocabulary encoding scheme for type of binding.

For purposes of brevity the examples do not include notes or subject headings. These would offer no additional value in terms of contextual information.

Example 1

LDR  01523cam a2200385 a 4500
001  000049791353
005  20150720142846.0
008  080901s2008\\\\vraa\\\br\\\\\000\1\eng\d
020  \\ $a9780670072019 (hbk.)
035  \\ $a(OCoLC)807467948
040  \\ $aVWMR$cANL$dNJB
042  \\ $aanuc
082  04 $aA823.4$222
100  1\ $aBase, Graeme,$d1958- ,$eauthor
245  10 $aEnigma :$ba magical mystery /$cGraeme Base.
260  \\ $aMelbourne :$bPenguin/Viking,$c2008.
300  \\ $a36 p. :$bcol. ill. ;$c32 cm.
340  \\ $lcase binding$2rdatb

Additional notes:
Single unit with type of binding taken from the RDA Toolkit VES.

Example 2

LDR  00963cam a2200265 a 4500
001  000009861530
005  20160917202710.0
008  930714s1993\\\\xnaabc\\\b\\\\000\0\eng\d
020  \\$a0646136038
035  \\$a(OCoLC)38338597
037  \\$bAvailable from the Billinudgel Centenary Committee, Public School, Billinudgel NSW 2483
040  \\$aANL$beng$cANL$dANL$dNSL
042  \\$aanuc
043  \\$au-at-ne
082  04$a372.99443$220
100  1\$aGardiner, Harvey,$author
245  10$aBillinudgel Public School :$b1893-1993 : the first one hundred years /$cwritten and compiled by Harvey Gardiner and Terry Timms.
260  \\$a[Billinudgel, N.S.W. :$bBillinudgel Centenary Committee,$c1993]
300  \\$aiv, 96 p. :$bill., maps, ports ;$c30 cm.
340  \\$lsaddle stitch binding$2rdatb

Additional notes:
Single unit with type of binding taken from the RDA Toolkit VES.

Example 3

LDR  01738cam a2200457 i 4500
001  000041278918
005  20200219141705.0
008  070215s2012\\\\vraa\\\\\\\\\\001\0\eng\d
020  \\$a9781420229868$q(coursebook)
020  \\$a9781420229974$q(workbook)
020  \\$a9781420230079$q(teacher ed.)
035  \\$a(OCoLC)225390690
037  \\$bMacmillan Education Australia, Level 4, 627 Chapel St, South Yarra VIC 3141
040  \\$aANL$beng$erda$dANL
042  \\$aanuc
043  \\$au-at---
082  04$a507.1294$222
100  1\$aStannard, Peter.
245  10$aScienceWorld.$n10 /$cPeter Stannard, Ken Williamson.
246  10$aScience world 10
250  \\$aAustralian curriculum ed.
264  \1$aSouth Yarra, Vic. :$bMacmillan Education Australia,$c2012.
300  \\$a3 volumes :$billustrated (chiefly colour) ;$c30 cm.
336  \\$atext$btxt$2rdacontent
337  \\$aunmediated$bn$2rdamedia
338  \\$avolume$bnc$2rdacarrier
340  \\$lcase binding$2rdatb$3teacher edition
340  \\$lperfect binding$2rdatb$3coursebook
340  \\$lspiral binding$2rdatb$3workbook
490  1\$aScienceWorld
505  0\$a[Coursebook] / Peter Stannard, Ken Williamson -- Workbook / Lesley Englert, Peter Stannard, Ken Williamson -- Teacher edition / Heidi Ruhnau, Peter Stannard, Ken Williamson.

Additional note:
Multiple unit manifestation with different types of binding for each component.

Example 4

LDR 00000cam a2200637Ii 4500
001  1109869275
003  OCoLC
005  20191008025524.0
008  190719s2019    enkah         000 0 eng d
040  \\$aERASA$beng$cERASA$dMZA
050  \4$aNE1325.K5$bC37 2019
100  1\$aCarpenter, John T.$0
245  10$aKitagawa Utamaro :$bStudies from nature /$ctranslations and commentary by John T. Carpenter ; essays by John T. Carpenter, Alfred Haft, Alex Kerr
264  \1$aLondon :$bThe Folio Society Ltd,$c2019
300  \\$a6 volumes in one box :$billustrations, facsimiles ;$c28 x 22 x 8 cm
336  \\$astill image$bsti$2rdacontent
336  \\$atext$btxt$2rdacontent
337  \\$aunmediated$bn$2rdamedia
338  \\$avolume$bnc$2rdacarrier
340  \\$lJapanese sewn binding$3The Book of Crawling Creatures
340  \\$lconcertina binding$3Gifts of the Ebb Tide
340  \\$lconcertina binding$3The Book of Myriad Birds
340  \\$lcase binding$2rdatb$3Translations and commentary
500  \\$aIndividual volume title from label mounted on cover
500  \\$aIssued in a cloth-covered presentation box lined with paper printed to complement the bindings and tied with grosgrain ribbon
505  0\$6880-02$a[v.1]. The book of crawling creatures, book one = Ehon mushi erami jō -- [v.2]. The book of crawling creaturs, book two = Ehon mushi erami ge -- [v.3]. The book of myriad birds, book one = Momochidori kyōka awase zenpen -- [v.4]. The book of myriad birds, book two = Momochidori kyōka awase kōhen -- [v.5]. Gifts of the Ebb Tide = Shiohi no tsuto -- [v.6]. Translation and commentary

Additional notes:
An unstructured description is used to record the binding of the facsimile volumes. An RDA VES is used to record the binding of the commentary.


This information is handled in BIBFRAME as a note type where it may be a textual note, a controlled vocabulary term, or a URI for the value. 


In Field 340 (Physical Medium) of the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format, add the following new subfield:

$l - Type of binding (R)

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