DATE: December 11, 1998

NAME: Definition of unspecified values in Leader in the MARC Holdings Format

SOURCE: Research Libraries Group

SUMMARY: This paper proposes that a value be defined in Leader/06 (Type of record) for "unspecified holdings" and in Leader/17 (Encoding level) for "unknown". This is needed so that a default value can be system generated in these positions when necessary.

KEYWORDS: Leader/06 (HD); Leader/17 (HD); Type of record (HD); Encoding level (HD)



12/11/98 - Forwarded to the MARC Advisory Committee for discussion at the January 1999 MARBI meetings.

1/31/99 - Results of MARC Advisory Committee discussion - Approved.

4/15/99 - Results of LC/NLC review - Approved.

PROPOSAL NO. 99-03: Definition of unspecified in Holdings Leader


The Leader in a MARC holdings record gives information defining the parameters for the processing of the record in an automated system. Most of the Leader elements are system-generated processing elements, while others contain useful information about the holdings record. RLG is loading user records into RLIN with holdings fields from local systems that have been converted to RLIN system holdings fields. In addition, it is beginning to load records with local holdings data mapped to USMARC holdings fields into RLIN.

The Input Conventions section at the end of the Leader description in the USMARC Format for Holdings Data lists the elements that are system generated, and states that the following four data elements "may be system generated depending upon the capabilities of the individual system": Leader/05 (Record status); Leader/06 (Type of record), Leader/17 (Encoding level), and Leader/18 (Item information in record).

An impediment to having these four elements system generated is the absence of useful default values when none of the defined values can be determined. In RLG's case, when converting local system holdings data to MARC format, the local data may have sufficient information to map it to MARC holdings fields, but lack what would determine the Leader/06 and/or Leader/17 values. RLG has requested that "unknown" be defined in these character positions. Discussions between LC and RLG have resulted in agreement that Leader/05 (Record status) should not have unknown defined, since it has the same values as in other MARC formats. Leader/18 is not an issue for RLG, and it does have the value "n" (No item information), which could be used as a default.


2.1 Type of record.

Type of record contains a one-character code that indicates the type of item covered by the holdings statement. All MARC formats have a type of record element in this character position. In the MARC Bibliographic Format Leader/06 is used to indicate the characteristics of and define the components of the record. The codes have multiple uses for processing, display, and retrieval of the record. The other formats have a single code defined that identifies the specific MARC format:

	Authority			z (Authority data)
	Classification			w (Classification data)
	Community Information	        q (Community information)

The Holdings format has the following codes defined:

	v 	Multipart item holdings 
	x 	Single-part item holdings 
	y	Serial item holdings

This does not allow for specifying that the record is a holdings record, but that the type of holdings is unknown. It is proposed that code "u" be added for "Unspecified holdings". This code is not used in Leader/06 in any other MARC format.

2.2 Encoding level.

Encoding level contains a code that indicates the level of specificity of the holdings statement. Codes 1, 2, 3, and 4 reflect the requirements of the NISO holdings standard, Z39.71. Certain data elements are required depending upon the level of the holdings record. Multipart or serial item holdings statements may be recorded at any level.

Systems could use this information for processing the record, and this might vary from system to system. Generally the element indicates what level of detail might be found in the record. The Bibliographic format has an encoding level in Leader/17 that indicates the fullness of the bibliographic information and/or content designation of the record; there are numeric codes and values "u" (Unknown) and "z" (Not applicable). The Authority and Classification formats have two codes: "n" (Complete) and "o" (Incomplete). The Community Information Format has Leader/17 undefined.

It would be useful to provide a default encoding level in Leader/17 of the Holdings format by including "u" for Unknown as in the bibliographic format.


In the MARC Holdings Format:

Go to:

Library of Congress
Library of Congress Help Desk (3/15/99)