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DATE: May 27, 2021

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

SOURCE: MARC/RDA Working Group

SUMMARY: This paper proposes a means for coding RDA's controlled list of values for "type of binding" in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format.

KEYWORDS: Field 340 (BD); Physical Medium (BD); Subfield $l, in field 340 (BD); Binding (BD); Type of binding (BD); Vocabulary Encoding Schemes (BD); RDA Toolkit Restructure and Redesign Project; RDA

RELATED: 2021-10; 2020-DP17

05/27/21 – Made available to the MARC community for discussion.

06/29/21 – Results of MARC Advisory Committee discussion: Approved, with the following editorial revision to the definition of 340 subfield $l:

$l – Binding (R)
A method used to bind a published or unpublished resource, or other binding information. May be recorded using a controlled term or other structured description.
Additional unstructured (or textual) information on binding may be recorded in field 563.

10/22/21 – Results of MARC Steering Group review - Agreed with the MAC decision.

Proposal No. 2021-16: 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"A method used to bind a published or unpublished manifestation."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".

The RDA element semantics expect only one type of binding per physical volume.

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.

A new proposed subfield for "type of binding" was explored in MARC Proposal No. 2021-10, which was discussed at the 2021 Midwinter MARC Advisory Committee (MAC) meeting. However, the label and scope of the new subfield (340 $l), as proposed in that paper, were thought by MAC to be too restrictive to support binding vocabularies such as the Art &Architecture Thesaurus (Getty), the Language of Bindings Thesaurus (, and Binding Terms (RBMS). MAC recommended that the proposal be withdrawn and reworked by the MARC/RDA Working Group, in consultation with MAC representatives to VRA, ARLIS/NA, PCC and SAC, in order to address this issue. This paper is a revision of that previous proposal.

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. For example, a community's application profile may state that if data for both case binding and perfect binding are recorded in the same metadata description set then this element is not used and binding data only recorded as qualifying information to the ISBN/Other Standard Identifier/Standard Technical Report Number.


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. If an item is rebound this data may be recorded in the separate RDA element(s) Item: binding of item, or, Item: modification of item.

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

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 offers 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 a 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 Item: binding of item or, Item: modification of item could be used to express this concept as a relationship instead.

To facilitate the use of different vocabulary encoding schemes whose semantics may be broader than the RDA VES the proposed subfield definition has also been broadened.

However, even though this subfield is still at the manifestation level, not specific item level, it will be able to be used for resources such as artists' books, as they often have two or more items, even if the numbers are limited, and so use some form of mechanical reproduction process in their production.

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 (Physical Medium) 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 (Physical Medium) to carry binding information. This would be to record a structured description using the RDA vocabulary encoding scheme or another structured vocabulary encoding scheme.

3.1. In field 340 (Physical Medium) of the Bibliographic Format, add and define new subfield $l as follows:

$l – Binding (R)
A method used to bind a published or unpublished resource. Or binding information recorded using a structured description.

3.2. In the Field Definition and Scope for field 340 add:

Additional unstructured (or textual) information on binding may be recorded in field 563.


The following examples illustrate various uses of the subfield 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 if using the RDA VES.

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  00925cam a2200277 i 4500
001  000057071963
005  20160206215209.0
008  160114s2009\\\\acaa\\\\\\\\\\000\1\eng\d
035 \\ $a(OCoLC)936660804
040 \\ $aANL$beng$erda$dANL
042 \\ $aanuc
082 04 $aA823.4$223
100 0\ $aEm,$c(Zine creator),$eartist,$ephotograher,$ewriter of added text.
245 14 $aThe blue bear /$c[Em].
264 \1 $a[Canberra, A.C.T.?]$b[Shriveling Press],$c[2009?]
300 \\ $a11 unnumbered leaves :$bcoloured illustrations ;$c22 cm.
336 \\ $atext$2rdacontent
336 \\ $astill image$2rdacontent
337 \\ $aunmediated$2rdamedia
338 \\ $avolume$2rdacarrier
340 \\ $lcoptic bindings$2aat
563 \\ $aPrinted on thick cream paper with a deckled edge. Exposed spine binding, coptic stitch, with a fine woollen twine.

Additional notes:
Using an application profile that uses the AAT thesaurus to record a structured description. The profile also notes that a single unit manifestation has a single Type of Binding.

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 using the RDA VES.

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.

Example 5

LDR  02380cam a2200505 i 4500
001  on1140549294
003  OCoLC
005  20210428010355.0
008  200213s2019\\\\bl\a\\\\\\\\\\000\p\por\c
035 \\ $a(OCoLC)1140549294
040 \\ $aDGU$beng$erda$edcrmb$cDGU$dDGU$dOCLCF$dRBN
042 \\ $apcc
043 \\ $as-bl---
050 \4 $aPQ9698.41.L96$bM35 2019
100 1\ $aAlves-Bezerra, Wilson,$eauthor.
245 10 $aMalangue malanga :$b(30 poemas para ler no exílio) /$cWilson Alves-Bezerra.
264 \1 $a[Santa Maria, RS, Brasil] :$bVento Norte Cartonero,$cMaio de 2019.
300 \\ $a42 pages, 10 unnumbered pages :$billustrations ;$c21 cm.
340 \\ $lCorrugated board bindings (Binding)$2rbbin
340 \\ $lPainted paper bindings (Binding) $2 rbbin
500 \\ $aIssued in a limited print run of 120.
563 \\ $aRecycled corrugated cardboard binding with hand-painted and collaged decoration on covers.

Additional notes:
Using an RBMS application profile the option to record a structured description using the RBMS Controlled Vocabularies has been selected. Also, further textual information has been recorded in the 563 field.


When the proposed addition is further developed, approved, and implemented, the BIBFRAME ontology may be modified to add a new property.


In Field 340 (Physical Medium) of the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format:

6.1. Add the following new subfield:

$l – Binding (R)

6.2. Add the following sentence to the Field Definition and Scope:

Additional unstructured (or textual) information on binding may be recorded in field 563.

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