DATE: December 11, 1998

NAME: Definition of Field 007 (Physical Description Fixed Field) for Tactile Materials in the MARC Bibliographic and Holdings Formats

SOURCE: National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

SUMMARY: This paper explores the definition of a field 007 to indicate physical characteristics for tactile material, or material intended to be read by touch. Characteristics include specific material designation, grade level of braille, primary code of braille, braille music format, and production and physical characteristics. The field is requested to aid in retrieval and limiting of material.

KEYWORDS: Field 007; Physical Description Fixed Field; Tactile Materials; Braille

RELATED: DP104 (Jan. 1998)


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

1/30/99 - Results of MARC Advisory Committee discussion - Approved with the following changes:

4/15/99 - Results of LC/NLC review - Agreed with the MARBI decisions.

PROPOSAL NO.: 99-04 Definition of 007 forTactile Materials


The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress (NLS) provides free loan of recorded and braille books, magazines, and music scores in braille and large print to U.S. residents who are unable to read or use standard print material because of visual or physical impairment. The Service maintains records for these items which it currently makes available on the Internet in an LC system and through a CDROM catalog distributed to network libraries. In the future NLS intends to begin record distribution in MARC to network libraries that collect braille and other tactile materials. Note that the term tactile material refers to a category of material that is intended to be read by touch; braille is the most common form of tactile material although others exist.

NLS records include information about the production and physical format of the material in addition to bibliographic information. Details about the specific material, the level of contraction and the format for braille music may be currently indicated in a note. Details about the production of the item may be included in the physical description (e.g. thermoform braille; 3 v. of interpoint).

NLS is interested in defining a new field 007 for coded information about the physical aspects of the tactile material in order to limit searches or otherwise use for retrieval. There are some types of tactile material that users may prefer for various reasons, including quality or their ability to use them. For instance a production method called print/braille includes both eye-readable print with interleaving or embossed braille, intended to be used together. There are different braille code schemes and braille items may be understandable only to certain users. It is preferable to put such information in a coded form for ease of retrieval and limiting.

Currently in the bibliographic format a record may indicate that an item is braille in 008/23 (Form of item) code f, for Books, Music, and Serials, and in 008/33-34 (Special format characteristics) code m, for Maps. Field 007/01 for Text also contains code "c" to indicate braille. However, there are no further distinctions made about the type of braille, and there is no way to indicate other types of tactile coding (such as music) that may be important to the blind or physically handicapped user.

Discussion Paper No. 104 (Defining Field 007 (Physical Description Fixed Field) for Tactile Materials in the USMARC Bibliographic and Holdings Format) was discussed at the meetings of the MARC Advisory Committee in January 1998. The discussion concluded that there was sufficient interest in this for a proposal to be presented. Specific suggestions were made concerning the need for additional codes. In order to internationalize the proposal, it was suggested that expertise be brought in from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and other outside institutions.

This paper proposes that a new field 007 for tactile materials be defined. In cases where there are two aspects of an item, such as a tactile map, an 007 for map and another 007 for tactile material may be used.

Specific changes in this proposal from suggested definitions in Discussion Paper No. 104 are:


The following character positions and values are proposed.

007 (Tactile materials)

00   Category of Material
This code indicates that the material is intended to be read by
     f    Tactile material

01   Specific material designation
A one character code that indicates to what class of tactile
material the item belongs.
     a    Moon 
          This is an abstraction of the print.
     b    Braille
     d    Tactile, with no writing system
     c    Combination
     z    Other
02   Not used

03-04     Class of braille writing
The family of braille to which the item belongs.  This is not the
particular braille code, but the type of braille code used. This
position is also used for the class used for the text labels of
cartographic or graphic items.  The classes below each represent
different types of written symbols.  For example, mathematics
braille codes define braille representations for the written
symbols used in mathematics and scientific writing and formulae. 
The most commonly encountered class of braille is literary
braille, used represent the alphabet and general symbols used in
most books.  However, other types of braille are frequently found
within books that are predominantly in literary braille, and
sometimes one of the other code types can predominate.  Up to two
braille types may be indicated, or the cataloging agency can
encode only the predominate type. List multiple codes in order of
predominance, if any.  If fewer than two codes are assigned, the
codes are left justified and unused positions contain blanks (#). 

     a    Literary braille
          This type defines braille representations for the 
          alphabet, numbers, and punctuation marks commonly used 
          in general writing.
     b    Format code braille
          This type defines formatting rules for brailling 
          textbooks and related materials.
     c    Mathematics and scientific braille.
          This type defines braille representations for symbols 
          employed in mathematics and scientific writing.
     d    Computer braille
          This type defines braille representations for symbols 
          used in computer programs, texts, and other computer 
          related materials.
     e    Music braille
          This type defines braille representations for symbols 
          used in music notation.
     m    Multiple braille types
          Used when there are multiple and none predominate.
     n    Not applicable
     u    Unknown
     z    Other

05   Level of contraction
Indicates whether contractions are used.  Contractions are
abbreviations consisting of one or more braille or Moon
characters to represent common letter combinations. 

     #    Not used
     a    Uncontracted
          For example, grade 1 braille
     b    Contracted
          For example, Standard English braille, the code for 
          contracted braille of the Braille Authority of the 
          United Kingdom and English Braille, American ed., the 
          code for contracted braille of the Braille Authority of 
          North America.
     m    Combination
     u    Unknown
     z    Other

06-08     Braille music format
Used for the braille music format of the item.  The music formats
are the way measures, sections, parts, and related information,
such as words, are presented in relation to each other.  For
example, the music format defines how the music for the right and
left hand are sequenced and related to each other in braille. 
Multiple formats are sometimes employed in the same piece of
music.  For example, a vocal part and text are in one format and
the accompaniment is in another. Consult the Dictionary of
Braille Music Signs / Bettye Krolick (Library of Congress, 1979)
for guidance on the particular music format definitions. Up to
three formats may be indicated, left justified in order of
predominance    If fewer than three codes are assigned, the codes
are left justified and unused positions contain blanks (#). .  

     #    Not used
     a    Bar over bar
     b    Bar by bar
     c    Line over line
     d    Paragraph
     e    Single line
     f    Section by section
     g    Line by line
     h    Open score
     i    Melody chord system
     j    Short form scoring
     k    Outline
     l    Vertical score
     u    Unknown
     z    Other

09   Special physical characteristics
     a    Print/braille
          Eye-readable print with braille interleaved or 
     b    Jumbo or enlarged braille
          Used for braille students and braille readers with 
          reduced  tactile sensitivity.
     n    Not applicable
     u    Unknown
     z    Other


1. A monograph in English braille, American ed.

2. A raised line map with Standard English braille labels.

3. A braille score with piano part in bar over bar and vocal part in line by line with text in English braille, American edition.

4. A print/braille (combined ink print and braille) book in English braille, American ed.

5. A novel in grade 1 (uncontracted) braille.


In the MARC Bibliographic/Holdings formats:
- Define Field 007 for Tactile materials with the following character positions:

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