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DATE: June 12, 2009

NAME: Making 008/39 (Cataloging source) obsolete in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format

SOURCE: Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC), OCLC

SUMMARY: The case is made to make the definition of 008/39 (Cataloging source) obsolete in the MARC Bibliographic Format as the data is available in a better form in field 040 and field 042.

KEYWORDS: Field 008/39 (BD), Cataloging source code


6/12/09 -- Made available to the MARC 21 community for discussion.

07/11/2009 - Results of the MARC Advisory Committee discussion - The committee agreed to move this discussion paper forward as a proposal for ALA Midwinter 2010. There needs to be an assessment of the potential impact on subscribers to MARC Serials record distribution and other bibliographic utilities.

Discussion Paper 2009-DP05: Making 008/39 (Cataloging source) obsolete


Fixed length field 008/39 (cataloging source) is defined in both the MARC 21 bibliographic and authority formats as a “ one-character code that indicates the original cataloging source of the record.” Four codes are valid: “#” national bibliographic agencies; “c” cooperative cataloging programs; “d” other; and “u” unknown. If the cataloging source is known, it is identified in subfield $a of field 040 (Cataloging Source). Subfield $a of field 040 “contains the MARC code or the name of the organization that created the original record” according to the format.

Current agreed-upon coding practices in 008/39, particularly in the bibliographic format emphasize the need to identify records of cooperative programs such as the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) and national libraries. Records that were created by a library fitting the definition of “d” other are changed to “c” or “#” when they are authenticated by a cooperative cataloging program participant or national library. Thus the code reflects the status of authoritativeness with respect to cooperative or national level cataloging rather than the cataloging source as defined in the MARC 21 format.

The difference between the meaning implied by cooperative coding practices (identifying authoritative records) and the meaning implied by the definition given in the MARC 21 formats (the organization that created the record) has caused confusion for catalogers and the systems that process records.

There are other codes in the record which reliably indicate the organization that created the record and the authoritativeness of the record. The $a of 040 reflects the cataloging source and does so whether or not the agency is a member of a cooperative cataloging program or is a national library. The 042 in the bibliographic record indicates that the record was authenticated by a cooperative cataloging program member or national library. Both of these fields can be manipulated by systems to generate displays that identify records authenticated by cooperative cataloging programs and national libraries.

The authors of this paper propose making 008/39 obsolete to avoid the ambiguity between the code's definition in the MARC 21 formats and current coding practices. This will allow catalogers and systems to rely on codes that unambiguously identify authenticated records and the agency that created the record. We propose making the position obsolete in both the bibliographic and the authority formats for uniformity across the formats. We recommend not converting legacy records with values in the position.


Impact of making Fixed length field 008/39 Cataloging source obsolete

PCC members discussed the proposal to make 008/39 obsolete. One impact was that some libraries make use of the code to sort copy for processing by different levels of staff. The 042 is an appropriate field to use for sorting copy and could be used by these institutions, although a number of different codes would need to be categorized for the sorting software to understand what to do.

PCC will make efforts to survey the possible impact through listservs before ALA in July 2009.

The 008/39 codes have been used in the past by OCLC as part of the mix of elements to index and display records created by national libraries and copy from cooperative cataloging programs. However, the majority of these records could be identified for these purposes by a combination of authentication codes in 042 (Authentication Code) and 040 (Cataloging Source) or by 040 alone.

Some systems, including LC, would need to change its processing routines that check for the 008/39 coding.


3.1.   Are there consequences other than those indicated in this paper of making the field obsolete?

3.2.   If 008/39 is made obsolete, what character would be used in the future? Blank currently means “National bibliographic agency”; fill currently means “No attempt to code”. However for undefined character positions in 008, either blank or fill are acceptable.

3.3.   Are other national libraries outside the U.S. using the 008/39 codes for processing or in cooperative programs in any way?

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