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MARC Proposal No. 2008-04: Changes to Nature of entire work and Nature of content codes in field 008 of the MARC 21 bibliographic format


The first computer-based library software was acquired by Finnish libraries in 1976 from the British Library. It was based on UKMARC. A few years later, the first version of the FINMARC format was developed. For over twenty years, all Finnish library databases using MARC as a metadata format used FINMARC, which was actively developed during that time.

When Finnish university libraries implemented the Voyager Integrated Library System in 2000, it was not possible for university libraries to continue to support the FINMARC format. However, certain databases, especially the Finnish national bibliography, were obligated to produce FINMARC records of good quality for public libraries even after implementing Voyager. To solve this problem, the MARC21-Fin format was developed. MARC21-Fin is based on MARC 21, however, it includes FINMARC fields that have no equivalences in MARC 21.

There are presently three different MARC formats used in Finnish library databases: FINMARC, MARC21-Fin and MARC 21. Although university and polytechnic libraries are using Voyager and MARC21-Fin, most public libraries are using Finnish library systems and FINMARC. There are also Millennium/MARC 21 users in Finland, such as the Helsinki Metropolitan Libraries.

Cooperation between Finnish libraries has always been active. The growing global exchange of data and implementation of common portal software has led libraries to the conclusion that one common format for all Finnish library databases would be beneficial to the Finnish library community. It was decided that the common format would be MARC 21. Finnish Voyager libraries hope to convert to MARC 21 by the end of 2008. All FINMARC users will also gradually move to MARC 21 by 2010. The National Library of Finland is coordinating all format conversion and training activities.


2.1 Nature of entire work and contents for Calendar

The MARC21-Fin format includes code “u” for “Calendar” in its Books 008/24-27 (Nature of contents) field and its Continuing resources 008/24 (Nature of entire work) and 008/25-27 (Nature of contents) fields. Originally all almanacs and calendars published in Finland were cataloged and coded by the Finnish national bibliography, however, currently only special calendars containing edited articles are catalogued separately by Finnish libraries.

A calendar may be defined as:

Published systems of organizing days. They can be academic calendars or almanacs, calendars published by bodies such as, labor organizations, the Church of Finland, library association, etc.

A code for “Calendar” has never been defined in MARC 21 field 008 for Books and Continuing resources. However, code “k” (Calendar) is currently defined in Maps field 008/33-34 (Special format characteristics).

A review of CONSER records revealed that currently many calendars are coded blank (#) “Not specified” in Continuing resources 008/24 (Nature of entire work) and 008/25-27 (Nature of contents) fields. Thus, a specific code for “Calendar” in these fields may promote improved retrieval and machine processing of calendars.

Because some calendars are not published on an ongoing basis with the same title each year, it may be necessary to define a code in the Books 008/24-27 (Nature of contents) field for “Calendar” as well. For example, the Georgia O'Keeffe Wall Calendar was published only in 2006. A 2007 version was never released by its publisher.

2.1.1. Examples

Example 1:

    008/24     3 [Calendar]
    245   00$aYliopiston almanakka vuodeksi ... jälkeen 
             Vapahtajamme Kristuksen syntymän.
    246  33$aYliopiston almanakka
    260  ##$aHelsinki$bHelsingin yliopisto$c1995-
    310  ##$aKerran vuodessa
    362  0#$a1996-

Example 2:

    008/24     3 [Calendar]
    245  00$aKanadan suomalaisten kalenteri
    246  31$aCanadian-Finnish calendar
    260  ##$aPort Arthur (Ontario)$c1959-
    300  ##$c16:o
    362  ##$a1. vsk.(1959)-

Example 3:

    008/24      3 [Calendar]
    245  00$aKonserttikalenteri
    246  31$aConcert calendar
    260  ##$aTurku$bSuomen sinfoniaorkesterit$c1974-
    300  ##$c21 cm
    310  ##$aKaksi kertaa vuodessa
    362  0#$a1974-

2.2 Nature of entire work and contents for Yearbooks

The MARC21-Fin format includes code “j” (Yearbook) in its Continuing resources 008/24 (Nature of entire work) and 008/25-27 (Nature of contents) fields. A yearbook may be defined as:

An annual publication containing articles about the activities of an organization. Its contents are more significant than of mere annual report. A good example might be “The Finnish Forest Industries Yearbook.”

Code “y” (Yearbook) was previously defined in Continuing resources fields 008/24 (Nature of entire work) and 008/25-27 (Nature of contents) in MARC 21, however, it was made obsolete in 1988 after a decision was made to no longer identify yearbooks as a special form of publication. This followed the elimination of the subdivision “"Yearbooks” from the Library of Congress Subject Headings because it had been inconsistently applied.

Because Finnish libraries have a distinct need for a code for “Yearbook” in the Continuing resources 008/24 (Nature of entire work) and 008/25-27 (Nature of contents) fields, code “y” may be reinstated in the MARC 21 bibliographic format. Code “y” (Yearbook) was also previously defined in field 008/24-27 (Nature of contents) for Books. To maintain consistency, code “y” in Books 008/24-27 (Nature of contents) may be reinstated, as well.

2.2.1 Examples

Example 1:

     008/24    y [Yearbook]
     245  10$aYearbook$cFinnish Forest Industries Federation
     246  34$aFinnish Forest Industries yearbook
     260  ##$aHelsinki$bFinnish Forest Industries Federation$c2007-

Example 2:

     008/24     y [Yearbook]
     245  10$aFinnish yearbook of population
     260  ##$aHelsinki$bPopulation Research Institute$c2006-

2.3 Nature of entire work and contents for Comics/Graphic Novels

The MARC21-Fin format includes code “y” for “Comic book” in its Continuing resources 008/24 (Nature of entire work) and 008/25-27 (Nature of contents) fields. A code for “Comic book” or “Graphic novel,” referred to in this paper as “Comics/Graphic Novels,” has never been defined in the MARC 21 008 fields. However, such a code may be useful to identify non-fiction topics expressed graphically and other works where the visuals take on a role equal to or surpassing that of the written text. A good example of this is the 1946 comic book Reddy Made Magic, wherein the cartoon character Reddy Kilowatt explains the history of electricity. More recent examples in the nonfiction category include: The Cartoon Guide to Physics by Larry Gonick; Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, about her experiences growing up in post-revolution Iran; and Buddha, an 8-volume biography by Osamu Tezuka.

For libraries assigning subject and/or genre terms to fiction, a code for “Comics/Graphic Novels” may also be useful. For example, for adaptations of literary or other works into Comic book/Graphic novel format and/or representation of established literary or other fictitious characters in Comic book/Graphic novel format, a code for “Comics/Graphic Novels” in Books field 008/24-27 (Nature of contents) and Continuing resources fields 008/24 (Nature of entire work) and 008/25-27 (Nature of contents) may enhance retrieval and machine processing.

A working definition of a comic book or graphic novel may be:

Instances of “sequential art” in which a “story” (whether fact or fiction) is told primarily through a set of images (often in the form of multiple “panels” per page) presented concurrently but meant to be “read” sequentially by the viewer. The accompanying narrative and/or dialog text, when it occurs, works integrally with the images to tell the story.

Field 008/33 (Literary form) for Books code “c” (Comic strips) is coded when the original mode of issuance for an item is in comic strip form. For example, a collection of the Little Orphan Annie comic strip would be coded “c” (Comic strips) in books field 008/33 (Literary form). Although this coding may be redundant with the proposed Books 008/24-27 (Nature of contents) code for “Comics/Graphic Novels,” the proposed 008/24-27 code may continue to be beneficial for systematic sorting by nature of contents codes.

2.3.1 Examples

Example 1:

     008/24     4 [Comics/Graphic Novels]
     245  00$aTapiiri-albumi
     246  33$aTapiirin albumisarja
     260  ##$aTampere$bFanzine$c1985-
     300  ##$c30 cm
     310  ##$aEpäsäännöllinen
     362  0#$a1-

Example 2 (Special collection of Woody Woodpecker strips):

     008/24      4 [Comics/Graphic Novels]
     245  00$aNakke Nakuttaja -albumi
     260  ##$aTampere$bSemic$c1987-
     300  ##$c30 cm
     310  ##$aEpäsäännöllinen
     362  0#$a1987, 1-


In field 008/24-27 for Books and fields 008/24 and 008/25-27 for Continuing resources:

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