PROPOSAL NO.: 2004-03

DATE: December 10, 2003

NAME:: Designating the Privacy of Fields 541, 561 and 583 in the MARC 21 Bibliographic and Holdings Formats.


SUMMARY: This paper proposes defining an indicator for privacy and possibly note control for the 541, 561 and 583.

KEYWORDS: Field 541 (BD, HD); Field 561 (BD, HD); Field 583 (BD, HD); Immediate source of acquisition note (BD, HD); Action note (BD, HD); Ownership and custodial history (BD, HD); Privacy (BD, HD)



12/10/03 - Made available to the MARC 21 community for discussion.

01/10/04 - Results of the MARC Advisory Committee discussion - Approved as amended. The first indicator values should be defined as: # (blank) - No information provided, 0 - Private and 1 - Not private. New examples using the defined indicator values should be added to the documentation. A clear definition of the meaning for "private" should also be included in the descriptions of fields 541, 561 and 583.

03/18/04 - Results of LC/NLC/BL review - Agreed with the MARBI decisions.

Proposal 2004-03: Designating the Privacy of Fields 541, 561 and 583


The 541 (Immediate Source of Acquisition Note) field is defined for recording information about the immediate source of acquisition of the materials described in a record. Field 561 (Ownership and Custodial History) is defined as a copy-specific field that contains information concerning the ownership and custodial history of the described materials from the time of their creation to the time of their accessioning. The 583 (Action Note) field is a copy-specific field used to record processing and reference actions taken for the materials described in the record. The 583 field is also used to record preservation actions (such as microfilming or digitization) relating to the materials described in the record. In the case of preservation information in field 583, sharing of data (such as queuing date for microfilming or digitization) is essential to the success of coordinated preservation programs. However, there are cases when the 541, 561 and 583 fields contain private information that should not display to other institutions. For example, the 541 field could contain donor or purchase information. The 583 field could contain the appraised value of an item. The institution that created the record containing such fields might want to prevent those fields from displaying publicly.

The 541, 561 and 583 fields currently provide no means to designate that they contain private information. For many years, RLG has provided a proprietary element for users of its union catalog to designate that data from the 541 and 583 fields contain private information. However, RLG would like to replace the existing proprietary mechanism with a MARC 21 defined one when the RLG union catalog data is moved to a new database environment in the near future. This information may be useful in a record-sharing environment.


Because display is the concern when information is private, using an indicator value to designate privacy seems like a good choice. Use of subfield $5 (Institution to which field applies) might seem a possible choice, but according to Appendix A of the MARC 21 bibliographic format (Control subfields) documentation for subfield $5: “Data in the field may not apply to the universal description of the item or may apply universally to the item but be of interest only to the location cited.” That is not the same as the field being private to an institution, so subfield $5 is not appropriate to designate the privacy of a field. Thus, a value is needed to control to whom a 541, 561 or 583 is displayed, depending on whether the contents of the field are marked as private.

The use of local values to mark privacy should also be considered. Such values could be effective within an institution's own catalog. However, when records containing private 541, 561 and 583 fields are contributed to a consortium's or bibliographic utility's union catalog, there must be specific MARC 21 provision for marking the privacy of a field so that the consortium or bibliographic utility can properly treat private information. It should be pointed out that a record contributor with private 541/561/583 data should confirm that a recipient will properly treat the private data before sending data. The burden is on the sender to filter out private information when sharing records with others.

This paper proposes that an indicator be defined in the 541, 561 and 583 fields for designating that the field contents are private. In this proposal, blank would remain defined to mean either no information provided or containing non-private information. This likely would continue to be the value used in most cases. Record processors would be correct to interpret blank to mean that there is no privacy restriction on the display of the field. This paper also proposes defining value 0 to show that the field contains private information.


In the MARC 21 Bibliographic and Holdings Formats:

Redefine the first indicator position in the 541, 561 and 583 fields:

First indicator - Privacy
The first indicator position contains a value that specifies whether the contents of the field are private or not.

# - No information provided/Not private
Value blank indicates that either no information is provided as to the privacy of the field contents or that there is no private information in the field.

0 - Private
Value 0 indicates that the field contains private information.


4.1 Marking a 541 field private to avoid display of the purchase price of an item in subfield $h.

  541 0#$3Photoprints$cPurchased;$d1974$h$4,000.
    [First indicator value 0 indicates that this field contains private information]

4.2 Marking a 583 field private to avoid display of the appraisal value in subfield $l.

  583 0#$aAppraised$c197508$l$25,000$kKarl Schach.
    [First indicator value 0 indicates that this field contains private information]

4.3 A 583 field not marked in regard to privacy (allows sharing of preservation action

  583 ##$aFilmed;$fNEH Project (SCH);$c2001
    [The first indicator value # (blank) indicates that no privacy concern has been expressed, so there is no restriction on generating a note from the data in the field]

4.4 A 561 field not marked to privacy:

  561 ##$aOriginally collected by Paul Jones and maintained by his nephew, John
Smith after Jones' death. Purchased in 1878 by Henry Green, who added prints and drawings purchased at auctions in New York and Paris, 1878- 1893.

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