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MARC Advisory Committee
June 18, 2013

The MARC Advisory Committee (MAC) was reconstituted in 2013 to continue the advisory role concerning MARC to the Library of Congress (LC), Library and Archives Canada (LAC), British Library (BL), and Deutsche Nationalbibliothek (DNB) (the MARC Steering Group) and to assume the role of a forum for broad and open discussion of standards used for representation of bibliographic data in machine-readable form. The new MAC is not sponsored by an ALA division.

Terms of Reference

To advise the MARC Steering Group on changes to the MARC 21 communication formats by reviewing, evaluating and discussing proposed changes.

To provide a forum for broad and open discussion of bibliographic standards used for the representation of bibliographic data in machine-readable form, especially the MARC 21 formats and other related standards.  This may include standards developed through initiatives with which the MAC membership is involved, and which are intended to complement or enhance the MARC 21 formats, e.g., the BIBFRAME Initiative.


The MARC Advisory Committee membership is composed of representatives of large-scale users of MARC 21, e.g., national libraries, bibliographic utilities, and representatives of general MARC 21 users and specialist communities, e.g. library association committees and co-operative organizations concerned with bibliographic description.  The length of appointment to the committee is up to the nominating organization.  Nominations of new groups to be represented on the MAC are approved by the MARC Steering Group.

National libraries:
                British Library
                Biblioteca Nacional de Espaņa
                Deutsche Nationalbibliothek
                Library and Archives Canada
                Library of Congress
                National Agricultural Library
                National Library of Australia
                National Library of Medicine

Library association committees and groups, networks, and communities of users:
                ALA, CaMMS, Cataloging Committee on Description and Access (CC:DA)
                ALA, CaMMS, Subject Access Committee (SAC)
                ALA, CaMMS, Maps and Geographic Information Round Table (MAGIRT)
                American Association of Law Librarians (AALL)
                Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA)
                Association of College and Research Libraries, Science and Technology Section (ACRL/STS)
                Automation Vendors Information Advisory Committee (AVIAC)
                ISSN Review Group
                Music Library Association (MLA)
                Online Audio-Visual Catalogers (OLAC)
                Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC)
                Public Library Association (PLA)
                Society of American Archivists (SAA)
                Visual Resources Association (VRA)


MAC meetings are held during the ALA Annual Conferences and the Midwinter meetings.  The committee is unaffiliated with any ALA section or division.  Meetings are open to the public.


The representatives of the BL, DNB, LAC, and LC constitute the MARC Steering Group.

Chair:  A chair will be invited by the MARC Steering Group for a two year term.  The invitation will be informally agreed upon by members of the MARC Steering Group.  The chair is to be responsible for conducting the business of the meeting.  LC will handle requesting room space.

Secretary:  A secretary will be appointed by the MARC Steering Group in consultation with the chair.  The secretary will be responsible for:  taking attendance of MAC members; circulating an attendance sheet for members of the audience; taking minutes and preparing a draft of the minutes.  The draft should be submitted to MAC for review within two months after each meeting.  Minutes are approved via email or during the following meeting.


Discussion Papers and Proposals for changes to the MARC 21 formats may originate from any user.  Discussion papers and change proposals can be submitted directly to the Library of Congress or to other MARC Steering Group members. Proposals and discussion papers should be submitted at least eight weeks before the ALA Annual and Midwinter meetings.

A fast-track process is used by the MARC Steering Group to evaluate requests for proposed changes to the MARC format documentation that may be straightforward and uncontroversial enough to implement without requiring MAC discussion and decision.  Common requests include: adding generic subfields to existing tags, changing repeatability, tweaking existing field definitions, addressing inconsistencies found within existing MARC format documentation, etc.  This process involves the MARC Steering Group's reviewing of MARC requests/proposals to identify which changes might be approved as Fast-Track changes and which require fuller scrutiny by MAC. The Steering Group plus the Chair of MAC approve changes by unanimous consent - or push the change request to the next meeting for consideration by MAC.  Fast-Track business is primarily undertaken between conference meetings.  All revisions and additions to the MARC 21 formats arising from Fast-Track changes are announced and posted on the MARC listserv.

The Library of Congress staff write, review and/or edit proposals and discussion papers and post them on the MARC Development pages of the Library of Congress MARC web site maintained by the Network Development and MARC Standards Office.   Proposals are posted approximately one month before the meeting dates; discussion papers are posted approximately three weeks before the meetings. The agendas of the semi-annual meetings are set by the Library of Congress approximately one month before the meeting dates.  Discussion papers and proposals constitute the bulk of the agenda.

MARC Advisory Committee members will discuss the papers and proposals with their respective organizations in advance of the MAC meetings. 

During the meetings, the MAC is expected to approve, disapprove or revise the proposed changes under discussion.  Approval of changes is made by members of MAC, with a majority determining the outcome.  When there is indecision in the committee, the chair may call for a straw vote of the MAC or of the MAC and the audience to help determine what the next steps for the paper should be.   If the committee is unable to reach a majority the item on the table does not move forward.  The MARC Steering Group ratifies the MAC conclusions or suggests further consideration of proposals.

During the meetings, Discussion papers are discussed and recommendations for changes, additions, or alternatives are made.  A straw vote of the MAC and the audience may be called by the chair for various points to help determine direction for changes.   Decisions on whether a discussion paper should move to the proposal stage are also made by majority vote of the MAC.  

The MARC Forum, an open listserv for discussion of MARC questions and issues, is a communication mechanism for posting position statements and discussing MARC papers in advance of the meeting.  The MAC mailing list is the communication tool for the internal business of the committee.
The MARC Development web pages provide the record of the committee, including the agendas of past meetings, past papers, and indexes to those papers.

The MAC can be called upon to participate in, and comment on, other initiatives or developments related to communication of structured bibliographic data.

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