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DATE: June 17, 2009

NAME: Definition of field 883 (Source of description, etc. note) in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format

SOURCE: CONSER Standard Record-MARC Working Group

SUMMARY: A new note field 883 is proposed to include cataloger working notes on sources of information, questionable or prospective changes, etc.

KEYWORDS: Field 883 (BD); Field 588 (BD); Source of description, etc. note (BD)

RELATED: 2009-DP02

06/18/2009 - Made available to the MARC 21 community for discussion.

07/11/2009 - Results of the MARC Advisory Committee discussion - Approved as amended. Field 883 was changed to field 588. The committee decided to make it repeatable, retaining subfields $a and $5, and adding subfields $6 and $8. Subfields $d, $l, $s, $v were dropped because their level of granularity was determined to be unnecessary. The title of the field and of subfield $a was changed from "Source of description, etc. note" to "Source of description note" with the "etc." part of the proposed title to be incorporated and explained in the field definition and scope.

08/05/2009 - Results of LC/LAC/BL review - Agreed with the MARBI decision.

PROPOSAL NO. 2009-07: Definition of field 883 (Source of description, etc. note) in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format


During the development of a standard record for serials, called the CONSER Standard Record, it was recognized that information about the source of the descriptive information and, in particular, of the title proper (sometimes called “description based on” and the “latest issue consulted” notes for serials) are important notes for tracking and controlling the metadata contained in bibliographic records. The notes are supplied according to cataloging rules such as AACR2 (1.7B23, 12.7B23) and are required by the CONSER Standard Record guidelines. The wording of these notes is standardized and formulaic. These notes are particularly important to serials catalogers at different institutions creating and maintaining records on a shared database.

Developers of the CONSER Standard Record made the recommendation to define a particular MARC field for data related to the creation or updating of the catalog record to clearly distinguish it from the other notes in a bibliographic record that are critical to public online catalog users. Field 883 is being proposed as a clearly identifiable field that will allow local catalog administrators flexibility in making decisions about indexing, positioning the field within records, displaying the information, and providing appropriate labels. If approved, the field would be implemented by CONSER members to create general and specific source of description notes that are especially of interest to other catalogers. The 883 note field would be available for use in cataloging all types of resources.


Discussion Paper No. 2009-DP02 suggested a wide scope for a new field for any sort of “administrative” metadata that is associated with a bibliographic resource. In general discussion at the MARC Advisory Committee meetings at Midwinter 2009 indicated support for adding the field, but more work would be needed on the scope and structure. Suggestions included defining an indicator value that would say whether the note should be suppressed, adding more subfields, perhaps including subfield $i for introductory text or indicators for types of notes, adding subfield $5, and changing the name of the field. The CONSER Standard Record-MARC Working Group subsequently narrowed the scope in this proposal to focus on notes that catalogers need to convey to other catalogers primarily citing sources of title proper and the item described.

The two notes required in every CONSER Standard Record, “description based on” and “latest issue consulted”, contain standardized wording. The group desired separate subfields for them that can be used to access and process these notes. Two other notes of particular interest to serial cataloging would also benefit from special subfields. Other cataloger notes, for example, on questionable or prospective data, can be given entirely in subfield $a. (This is an approach similar to the general note $a subfield and parsed subfields of field 502 (Dissertation Note) and 505 (Formatted Contents Note).)

The Working Group discussed the suggestion that a suppression indicator be defined for the field, but recognized that suppressing fields is a local decision that can be accomplished without the use of a suppression indicator. The group also discussed defining subfield $i for introductory text, but found difficulty in defining firm justifications and applications for this subfield given the narrowed scope of the field.

A new field 883 (Source of Description, Etc. Note), with both indicators blank and the following subfields would cover the needs identified by the CONSER Standard Record-MARC Working Group:

$a - Source of description note
Notes other than those for which special subfields are defined.
$d - Description basis
Designation of issue or part on which the description is based. For serials, designation of the earliest issue used as the basis of cataloging.
$l - Last part consulted
Designation of the latest issue or part consulted. For serials, designation of the latest issue consulted for updating the record.
$s - Source of title proper
$v - Date viewed
For online continuing resources, the date the resource was viewed for cataloging.
$5 - Institution to which the field applies


Records for serial publications:

883 ## $d vol. 1, no. 1 (Jan. 2003) $s title page
883 ## $l vol. 6, no. 3 (Mar. 2008)

Records with general cataloging notes:

883 ## $a Cannot determine the relationship to Bowling illustrated, 
          also published in New York, 1952-58. $5 DLC
883 ## $a Publication to be resumed by F&W Publications, Inc. 
          in Oct. 2009. $5 EZB

Records for non-serial publications:

883 ## $s accompanying typewritten notes (4 p.)
883 ## $s Web page $v May 29, 1999


In the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format define the following field:

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