The Library of Congress >> Especially for Librarians and Archivists >> Standards

MARC Standards

HOME >> MARC Development >> Discussion Paper List


DATE: June 12, 2008

NAME: Treatment of controlled lists of terms and coded data in RDA and MARC 21

SOURCE: RDA/MARC Working Group

SUMMARY: This paper discusses RDA controlled lists of values in relation to various MARC coded value lists, including the RDA content, media, and carrier types and carrier attributes.

KEYWORDS: Controlled lists (BD); Content type (BD); RDA; Resource Description and Access; 007 (BD); 008 (BD); Carrier type; Media type; Carrier attributes

RELATED: 2008-DP04


06/12/08 - Made available to the MARC 21 community for discussion

06/29/2008 - Results of the MARC Advisory Committee discussion

Section 2.1: There was no discussion related to this section.

Section 2.2: The group pointed out that a change is needed to the example of field 300 (Physical description), which contains two occurrences of subfield $b, but subfield $b is defined as nonrepeatable.

Section 2.3: The committee suggested defining specialized 5XX note fields for notes pertaining to carrier attributes, instead of defining subfield $i (Display text) in field 500 (General note). However, it was recognized that subfield $i (Display text) may be useful by specialized communities. The group recommended that other alternatives should be explored.

Section 2.4: The committee discussed using either terms or codes. It was stated that RDA recommends that terms be recorded, however, many MARC data elements are in coded form. (It was later clarified that how this is recorded, i.e. code or term, was an implementation decision.) Several committee members recognized that using codes provides a language-independent solution. Using URIs is another alternative; this issue will be further explored. Defining subfield $2 (Source) was also recommended as a way that institutions may specify specific lists and their corresponding sources.

Other specific comments made will be considered in reworking this paper.

DISCUSSION PAPER NO. 2008-DP05/3: Treatment of controlled lists of terms and coded data in RDA and MARC 21


This Discussion Paper concerns the coding of information pertaining to content, media and carriers from RDA. Data related to media and carriers is covered by detailed instructions in RDA Chapter 3 - Carrier. Data related to Content type is covered by RDA instruction 6.11. The Working Group has based this Discussion Paper on the current draft of chapter 3 (March 2007) available at:

Although this draft is being revised, the Working Group anticipates that the issues raised in this Discussion Paper will continue to exist in the revised chapter 3.

There is generally good correspondence between lists of coded values in MARC and the lists of terms in RDA. This is because the MARC lists were used as the foundation for development of those in RDA.

RDA has instructions for recording types of content, media, and carrier. Proposal 2008-05/3 addressed the issue of including the 3 types in textual form in a record. Section 2.1 of this paper addresses the desirability of accommodating coding for those three characteristics in MARC.

RDA Chapter 3 concerns recording physical characteristics that relate to the media and carriers of resources. For each media type RDA provides instructions for recording the carrier and attributes of the carrier in a structured form (often accompanied by an open vocabulary list) and in note form. The implication is that the structured form is preferred and the note supplements it. RDA does not establish codes for any of these attribute values, as that is a storage rather than a cataloging rule issue.

Sections 2.2-2.4 of this paper discusses MARC fields appropriate to carry the structured information, the notes, and, where appropriate, coded values for the media and carrier information. Consideration is given to whether it is useful to identify the information with content designation, since detail and content designation add to cataloging costs.

RDA Chapter 3 is organized into a series of subparts treating certain physical aspects of resources at a general level and then contains four sections of more specialized aspects, as follows.


2.1 Coded data adjustments for Content, Media, and Carrier types

RDA content

Content types that will be in a record in textual form (see Proposal 2008-05/3) are closely allied to the LDR/06 (Type of record), although the RDA content types are often composites. There is sufficient correlation with the basic RDA media types so no changes to LDR/06 are needed at this time. The following shows the correspondences.

Notes: MARC 21 indicates “tactile-ness” in coded data through the inclusion of a 007 for tactile material. One RDA content type is not explicitly provided for in MARC 21: notated movement (and its companion tactile notated movement). They are included in language material above. More information about such resources is needed to determine whether a change is needed.

RDA media

Media and carrier types are generally reflected in MARC 21 coded locations 007/00 (Category of material), and 007/01 (Specific material designation). RDA identifies eight media types for use in RDA descriptions. These are audio, digital, microform, microscopic, projected, stereographic, video, and unmediated. The types are differentiated by the class of “intermediation tool” required to use resources of that type, the capacious unmediated type requiring no tool. MARC 007/00 codes correspond well to RDA media types, sometimes subdivided by content type, and in one case (d = globe) further by carrier type. Two media types, microscopic and stereographic, have no 007/00 equivalent but are currently handled in other ways.

Media Types MARC 007/00
audio a
computer c
microform h
microscopic 008/33 = p
projected g
unmediated t, k
video v
unspecified z

Microscopic media is currently included with content type “three-dimensional artifact or naturally occurring object” in MARC 21. This media form would be LDR/6 code r (Three-dimensional artifact or naturally occurring object) and its 008/33 (Visual Materials/ Type of visual material) is encoded with value p (microscopic slide).

Question: Would a new 007 type that contains only Type of material (microscopic) and SMD codes for “Microscope slide” and “Other” be useful? In the OCLC database, .000004 percent of the records are currently coded for “microscopic slide” (444 out of 107,182,777).

Stereographic media present a different challenge. RDA identifies two carriers, stereographic card and stereographic reel. It is unclear at this time whether the latter is intended to refer only to modern stereographs of the Viewmaster type, or also to be a carrier of moving image content. MARC 21 treats stereographic card resources as Nonprojected graphics (LDR/06 = k, 007/00 = k). By contrast, modern stereographs of the Viewmaster type are treated as a Projected medium (LDR/06 = g, 007/00 = g, 007/01 = s (slide)). Stereographic moving image resources would be treated as motion pictures (LDR/06 = g, 007/00 = m, 007/04 = c (3D)). Given the complexities and uncertainties, a proposal for change seems inadvisable at this time.

RDA carriers

Resources are embodied in carriers. Each media type has an associated repertoire of carrier types. Carrier types are roughly equivalent to the Specific medium d esignations encoded in MARC 21 007/01. When comparing the RDA carrier types with 007/01 codes (see Appendix A) nearly all of the carrier types are accommodated already, sometimes under a different label. Adding a few new codes or modifying the definitions of certain existing codes will facilitate the mapping of RDA descriptions to MARC 21 in either case.

Digital carriers:
RDA lists computer card, absent from the MARC 21 code list for Electronic resource 007/01. Add k = card.
RDA lists only computer disc and computer disc cartridge, where MARC differentiates magnetic disc, magneto-optical disc, optical disc, and optical disc cartridge. Add d = disc, type unspecified, and e = disc cartridge, type unspecified.
Microform carriers:
RDA lists microform slip, absent from the MARC 21 code list for Microform 007/01. Add h = microform slip.
Projected carriers:
RDA lists filmstrip, where MARC has encoded filmstrip roll, filmstrip cassette, and other filmstrip type for Projected graphic 007/01. Rename the last to other or unspecified filmstrip type.

Possible MARC changes indicated for media carriers:

2.2 Structured textual descriptions of carriers in RDA

Field 300 provides subfields that could be used to record most of the carrier attribute information. Extent and Dimensions are specifically identified in subfields $a and $c. Subfield $b could be used for the other RDA carrier attributes.


        300  ##  $a 6 maps on 1 sheet $c 45 x 80 cm, on sheet 50 x 44 cm
                 $b coloured $b both sides

In cases where identification of each carrier attribute is desired, Field 340 could be augmented to record the carrier attributes in a manner that identifies the type of attribute. Adding subfield $2 to field 340 for Source would allow recording the use of the RDA or any other vocabulary source for terms. The field would be repeated for each different vocabulary source used.


       340 ## $b 45 x 80 cm, on sheet 50 x 44 cm $l coloured $k both sides $2 rda
       340 ## $e wood $2 rda 

2.3 Notes pertaining to carrier attributes

The mapping to MARC that was carried out by the JSC in 2007 indicated that the notes pertaining to carrier attributes would be in field 500. There they cannot be distinguished as to the attribute to which they pertain, if that is desirable. Since it would be expected that the notes about different attributes would be carried in separate note fields, a subfield could be added to the Field 500 for the attribute name as follows.


       500 ## $iApplied material:$a Egg tempera paint with tooled gold-leaf halos.
       500 ## $iMount:$a Mounted on starched linen.

The new subfield $i could also be useful in other situations.


       500 ## $iEdition and history:$aPrevious ed.: Harmondsworth : Penguin, 1950.
       500 ## $iEdition and history:$aBased on a play which originally appeared in
              France as Un peu plus tard, un peu plus tôt.
       500 ## $iNature, scope, or artistic form:$aPlay in 3 acts.
       500 ## $iSource of title proper:$aCaption title.

Question: Extra content designation for introductory phrases has not been requested for field 500 in the past; is the extra subfield needed?

2.4 Adjustments or additions to MARC coded data elements for carrier attributes

The following discusses elements where RDA has lists that differ from MARC coded value lists and consideration should be given to whether items on the RDA lists would be useful enhancements to the MARC record. These are organized by the RDA attributes listed in the introduction, although some attributes are not present below as they do not need any adjustments. Some RDA lists had congruence with the MARC lists, and they are not included below. The Working Group, and the consultant who did the analysis, considered more lists than are suggested for change. Those not listed for change are generally noted below with the Working Group conclusion.

When one MARC 21 code corresponds to multiple RDA terms different approaches have been consulted, depending on the situation.

When one RDA term corresponds to multiple MARC codes, a general term (usually called “Unspecified”) may be added to MARC, but resulting in incompatible coding with earlier more specific MARC coding.

Consideration should be given to the value of more specific coding in both of the situations above.

The Working Group took the approach that since the RDA lists are open ended and not meant to be closed and complete, exactly aligning MARC with those lists, which will change as RDA and technology develop, would often not be practical. It would negatively effect consistent retrieval of MARC records and also the flexibility of RDA in the future.

2.4.1 Extent
Extent of still images (RDA rule 3.4.3)

The RDA list of terms describing the extent of still images is considerably longer than the current list of encoded values for use in MARC Non-projected graphic 007/01. The discrepancy can be remedied by the addition of coded values to the MARC 21 list, as shown in the following table.

RDA’s lack of distinction among the photograph types as found in MARC (code values f, g, h) requires the addition of a catch-all MARC 21 value v.

MARC 21 codes for Nonprojected graphic 007/01 RDA list for Extent of still images mapped to MARC 21 with new values
a - activity card NEW • activity card – a
c - collage • chart – n
d - drawing • collage – c
e - painting • drawing – d
f - photomechanical print • flash card – o
g - photonegative • icon – q
h - photoprint • painting – e
i - picture • photograph – v
j - print • picture – i
l - technical drawing • postcard – p
n - chart • poster – k
o - flash card • print – j
k - poster NEW • radiograph – r
p - postcard NEW • study print – s
q - icon NEW • technical drawing – l
r - radiograph NEW • wall chart – w
s - study print NEW
v - photograph, type unspecified NEW
w - wall chart NEW
u - unspecified
z - other
| - no attempt to code

Possible MARC 21 changes:

Question: Is there special value to the differentiation of the types of photograph prints in MARC? For the end user? For the serving of the material? For preservation needs?

Extent of notated music (RDA rule 3.4.2)

The RDA list of terms describing the extent of notated music includes condensed score and piano [violin, etc.] conductor part. The MARC 21 equivalent is condensed score or piano-conductor score (e) in the Music 008/20. Conductors use full and partial scores and condensed and piano (or performer) conductor scores are prominent forms of the latter. The distinction can be provided in MARC with:

In the Library of Congress file, approximately 2/3 of the scores are condensed and 1/3 are performer-conductor scores, mostly piano-conductor scores.

RDA lists vocal score and chorus score separately. MARC 21 has only vocal score, which includes choral scores. A new MARC 008/20 could be established to make the distinction, if it would be useful. It would mean that existing records would have chorus scores coded “d” rather than the new code.

RDA also lists part. MARC 21 puts part information, in more detail, in another character position (008/21). A single part being described in RDA can be mapped to MARC 21 using existing codes, including other (z) in 008/20.

MARC 21 codes for 008/20(MU) RDA terms with MARC codes
a - full score • score – a
b - full score, miniature or study size • condensed score – i or e
c - accompaniment reduced for keyboard • close score – g
d - vocal score • piano [violin, etc.] conductor part – j
e - condensed score or piano-conductor score • vocal score – d
g - close score • piano score – c
h - chorus score NEW • chorus score – h or d
i - condensed score NEW • part – z
j - performer-conductor score NEW
m - multiple score formats
n - not applicable
u - unknown
z - other

Possible MARC change:

2.4.2 Base Material
Base material, general (RDA rules and

RDA specifies a single list of Base material terms for all resources other than microforms and motion pictures, whereas MARC tailors the lists for each type: map, globe, nonprojected graphic, projected graphic, and sound recordings. This attribute is found in MARC in 007/04 (Primary support material) for map, globe, nonprojected graphic, projected graphic and 007/10 (Kind of material) for sound recordings. The terms from the 007 for non-projected graphics appear to have contributed the most terms to the single RDA list, and many of those terms are so unlikely to apply to projected graphics and sound recordings that it seems unnecessary to define extra codes for them, for example, a sound recording on canvas. Likewise some of the terms defined in MARC for sound recordings are equally unlikely to be useful for maps, e.g., shellac. Several of the MARC lists also have some specialized terms that were established for special purposes relative to the carrier, e.g., safety film, flexible photographic positive, aluminum with lacquer. The Working Group agreed that defining codes across all carrier bases that were not relevant to a particular one was not appropriate, and the existing code lists could support RDA.

There are a few instances in which MARC Primary support material terms that cross several 007 carriers might be considered for change to align better with RDA if they would also serve improved user needs. In MARC, map, globe, and non-projected graphic 007s, skin encompasses RDA terms skin, leather, parchment, and vellum. Likewise, the MARC codes for synthetic includes the RDA terms for synthetic, plastic, and vinyl. And in the 007 for non-projected graphics, the code c (cardboard/illustration board) includes both cardboard and illustration board from the RDA list.

Possible changes to MARC 21:

2.4.3 Production Method
Production method (RDA rule 3.9.0)

RDA Production method terms are generally not included in the coded data in the MARC 007 fields. The exceptional content type is the Map 007/06 (Production or reproduction details) which has a very limited number of specialized values targeted primarily at reproductions.

A position in other 007 types could be added for the production method in the appropriate 007s, including Text (t), Notated music (q), Nonprojected graphic (k), and Tactile material (f), and the 007 for Maps could be augmented with extra codes. RDA provides a general list of production methods, plus an additional four terms for manuscript resources (which can be appended to the general list). Tactile materials are a special case, because a separate list of terms is defined for them in RDA.

The general list of RDA terms includes both blueline and whiteprint. MARC 21 documentation and other sources indicate that these terms are intimately related, the former being the product and the latter the process by which the blueline is produced. They should be mapped to the single value a (blueline print) in MARC 21, with a modification of the description of value a.

Consideration should be given to whether it is useful to include this data in records in a coded form, or whether the 300 $b and/or 340 $d are sufficient, since the list is intended to be open ended.

007 type & position MARC 21 codes for Production method RDA Production method terms with MARC codes
Text (007/02) a - whiteprint, blueline print • blueline – a
Notated music (007/02) b - photocopy • blueprint – e
Non-projected graphic (007/06) c - pre-production • collotype – f
Map (007/06) d - film • daguerreotype – g
e - blueprint NEW • engraving – h
f - collotype NEW • etching – i
g - daguerreotype NEW • lithograph – j
h - engraving NEW • photocopy – b
i - etching NEW • photoengraving – k
j - lithograph NEW • photogravure – l
k - photoengraving NEW • print – m
l - photogravure NEW • white print – a
m - print NEW • woodcut – o
o - woodcut NEW • holograph(s) – q
q - holograph NEW • manuscript(s) – r
r - manuscript NEW • printout(s) – s
s - printout NEW • typescript(s) – t
t - typescript NEW
Tactile (007/10) b - Braillo NEW • Braillo – b
c - plate copy NEW • plate copy – c
d - solid dot NEW • press braille – e
e - press Braille NEW • solid dot – d
f - swell paper NEW • swell paper – f
g - thermoform NEW • thermoform – g

Possible MARC21 changes:

2.4.4 Generation
Generation (motion picture films) (RDA rule

The RDA list of terms for motion picture file generation is very similar to the MARC 21 codes used in Motion Picture 007/11, the only difference being that a single code is used in MARC for the separate RDA terms reference print and viewing copy. The Working Group determined that there is some doubt that these are distinguishable, so no change to MARC is proposed.

2.4.5 Digital File Characteristics
Digital file encoding format (RDA rule

The RDA contains a long list of terms for Digital file Encoding formats in the current Chapter 3: Audio encoding formats: CD audio, DVD audio, MP3, RealAudio, SACD, WAV; Data encoding formats: Access, Excel, Lotus, XML; Image encoding formats: ARC/INFO, CAD, E00, GIF, GIS, JPEG, MID/MIF, TIFF; Text encoding formats: ASCII, HTML, MS Word, PDF, RTF, SGML, Word Perfect, XHTML; Video encoding formats: DVD video, MPEG-4, Quicktime, RealVideo, SVCD, VCD, Windows media.

The MARC community has discussed recording encoding formats in coded form in the past and concluded that these formats are constantly changing with the technology so that coding them would not be useful and would be a difficult list to maintain. When a resource is converted from one format to another, coding would need to be changed. Encoding format is thus currently among the data that is sometimes included in MARC 21 field 300 $b. In addition there are multiple initiatives in the community to provide different ways to record this information and link it to relevant detailed information resources such as the Global Digital Format Registry and METS/PREMIS metadata.

Therefore the Working Group recommended that this data continue to be recorded in field 300 $b and/or in the new proposed 340 $q (Digital file encoding format) in textual form.

2.4.6 Video Characteristics
Presentation format (motion pictures) (RDA

RDA terms for presentation format occupy two hierarchical levels while MARC 21 encoding in Motion picture 007/04 represents a single level (the higher level). For example, MARC codes for “anamorphic wide-screen format” while RDA includes “anamorphic“ and the two specific anamorphic formats, Panavision and Techniscope. It is not clear that the list of formats in RDA covers the landscape, but it does include common formats. To weld the two successfully requires considerable reworking of the current MARC coding or perhaps a new character position for the second level. For this reason the Working Group recommended that rather than adding the codes for the second level terms to MARC, they should be recorded as text terms from the RDA and other lists in either the 300 $b or the 340 $r.

MARC 21 codes RDA terms
a - standard sound aperture (reduced frame) • standard sound aperture - a
b - nonanamorphic (wide-screen) • wide screen - b or e
c - 3D • 3D - c
d - anamorphic (wide-screen) • anamorphic - d
e - other wide screen format
f - standard silent aperture (full frame) • standard silent aperture - f
u - unknown • multiscreen
z - other • Panavision
• Cinerama• stereoscopic
• Techniscope
• multiprojector
• Cinemiracle
Broadcast standard (RDA rule

Broadcast standard is currently included in a general note in MARC 21. The RDA Broadcast standard is a list that the Working Group thought might be a useful addition to the 007 for Videorecordings. The next available space in the Videorecording 007 is 007/09. The following is proposed.

MARC Videorecording 007/09: Broadcast standard (NEW) RDA Broadcast and MARC 21 codes
a NTSC • HDTV – d
b PAL • NTSC – a
c SECAM • PAL – b
d HDTV • SECAM – c

Possible change to MARC 21:

2.4.7 Sound Characteristics
Groove characteristic (RDA rule

RDA Groove characteristic maps to MARC 21 Sound recording 007/05 – Groove width/groove pitch. This is another case in which MARC 21 denotes with one code terms that RDA lists separately. RDA lists terms coarse and standard separately while MARC encodes both as “s.” Similarly RDA microgroove and fine are encoded in MARC as “m.” Because, according to MARC 21 documentation, the first term in each pair is generally used when describing sound disks and the second when describing cylinders, there is no need to add additional codes to MARC sound recording 007/05. The correct RDA term can be determined from 007/01. No MARC 21 change appears necessary.

Configuration of playback channels (RDA rule

RDA considers Configuration of playback channels to be an attribute of a sound recording of whatever sort. MARC 21 treats the sound track playback channels of a Motion picture or a Videorecording in their respective 007/08, and of a Sound recording in 007/04.

The code values shared by the two MARC locations are almost the same except for code q, which is labeled “quadraphonic” for sound recordings and “quadraphonic, multichannel, or surround” for motion pictures and video recordings. The sound recording 007 value could be updated to the definition in the motion picture and videorecording 007, but a better alternative may be to separate quadraphonic and surround as in the RDA list.

The following mapping of Configuration of playback channels is proposed.

MARC 21 Motion picture, Videorecording 007/08 MARC 21 Sound recording 007/04 Map RDA to either MARC location as follows
k - mixed m - monaural mono – m
m - monaural q - quadraphonic stereo – s
n - not applicable r - surround NEW quadraphonic – q
q - quadraphonic REDEFINED s - stereophonic surround – r
r - surround NEW
s - stereophonic

“Quadraphonic” should be understood to refer only to four-channel playback.

“Surround” should be defined to cover playback configurations employing more than four channels.

Possible changes to MARC:

Appendix A – RDA carriers mapped to MARC 21

RDA Carriers MARC 007/01
Audio carriers 007 for Sound recordings
audio cartridge g
audio cylinder e
audio disc d
audio film reel i
audio roll q
audiocassette s
audiotape reel t
other audio carrier x
Computer carriers 007 for Electronic resource
computer card
computer chip cartridge b
computer disc j
computer disc cartridge c
computer tape cartridge a
computer tape cassette b
computer tape reel h
online resource r
other computer carrier z
Microform carriers 007 for Microform
aperture card a
microfiche e
microfiche cassette f
microfilm cartridge b
microfilm cassette c
microfilm reel d
microfilm slip
microopaque g
other microform carrier z
Microscopic carriers 008 for Visual Materials
microscope slide 008/33 = p
other microscopic carrier
Projected carriers 007 for Projected graphic and Motion picture
film cartridge c (Motion picture)
film cassette f (Motion picture)
film reel r (Motion picture)
filmslip d (Projected graphic)
filmstrip f (Projected graphic)
filmstrip cartridge c (Projected graphic)
overhead transparency t (Projected graphic)
slide s (Projected graphic)
other projected carrier z (Motion picture or Projected graphic)
Stereographic carriers
stereograph card
stereograph reel
other stereographic carrier
Unmediated carriers
card o (007/01 for Non-projected graphic)
flipchart n (007/01 for Non-projected graphic)
other unmediated carrier
Video carriers 007 for Videorecordings
video cartridge c
videocassette f
videodisc d
videotape reel r
other video carrier z
unspecified z (007 for Unspecified)


HOME >> MARC Development >> Discussion Paper List

The Library of Congress >> Especially for Librarians and Archivists >> Standards
( 11/24/2015 )
Legal | External Link Disclaimer Contact Us