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DATE: June 1, 2011

NAME: Treatment of Controlled Lists of Terms for Carrier Characteristics in RDA in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format

SOURCE: LC's Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access (ABA) Directorate

SUMMARY: This paper discusses RDA controlled lists of values for carrier characteristics and possible fields and subfields for recording them.

KEYWORDS: RDA; Carrier characteristics; Controlled lists (BD); Field 340 (BD); Field 344 (BD); Field 345 (BD); Field 346 (BD); Field 347 (BD); Subfield $i, in Field 500 (BD, CI)

RELATED: 2008-DP05/3; 2011-DP04

06/01/11 – Made available to the MARC community for discussion.

06/26/11 – Results of MARC Advisory Committee discussion: Approved as amended. Add new subfields to field 340 as proposed and adopt Option 1, which adds fields 344-347 to the Bibliographic format. Add subfields $0 (Authority record control number or standard number), $6 (Linkage), and $8 (Field link and sequence numbers) to fields 340 and 344-347. Do not make 300 $b repeatable and do not add subfield $i to field 500.

07/19/11 - Results of LC/LAC/BL review - Agreed with the MARBI decision.

Proposal No. 2011-08: Treatment of Controlled Lists of Terms for Carrier Characteristics


The Library of Congress ABA Directorate has again brought up the suggestion that there be specific MARC fields or subfields for each of the characteristics of carriers currently noted in RDA.  This issue was considered previously in Discussion Paper 2008-DP05/3.  That paper discussed RDA controlled lists of values in relation to various MARC coded value lists, including the RDA content, media, and carrier types and carrier characteristics.  The content, media and carrier type terms were accommodated in new fields 336, 337, 338, where new codes for the terms were also specified and the mappings of those terms and codes to the codes in their long time placement in the MARC, Leader/06, 007/00 and 007/01, were also identified. 

A recommendation was made to use the coded data fields in MARC rather than pursue the establishment of new fields or subfields for the characteristics of carriers.  This required the adjustment of some of the 007 character position values that corresponded to the RDA terms for carrier characteristics.  RDA does not establish codes for any of these characteristic values, as that is a storage rather than a cataloging rule issue.  There was a question about whether, since RDA does not deal with codes for terms, it would be permissible for a data format like MARC to use codes for the information or should the exact terms be recorded.  An RDA authority verified that it was permissible to use codes that corresponded to RDA terms formats for bibliographic data.    Proposals 2009-01/2 (sections 4.3-4.8) and 2009-06/3 were then considered which made adjustments to the corresponding coded characteristic lists in MARC to better match the RDA term lists.

Defining separate subfields for RDA carrier attributes in MARC provides more specific mapping between RDA and MARC and ability to parse and identify the parsed items for searching and display purposes and converting to other metadata schemas. Therefore the following points from Discussion Paper No. 2008-DP05/3 need to be reconsidered.

Note that this paper deals with carrier characteristics found in Chapter 3, Describing Carriers, in RDA and not with content characteristics that are found in Chapter 7, Describing Content.


RDA Chapter 3 concerns recording physical characteristics that relate to describing carriers of resources. For each media type RDA provides instructions for recording the carrier type (Field 338) as well as characteristics of the carrier in a structured form (often accompanied by an open vocabulary list) and in note form. The structured form may be supplemented with notes when more detailed informatoin is needed.

Sections 2.2-2.6 of this paper discuss MARC fields appropriate to carry the structured textual information and the notes.

2.1. Carrier characteristics under discussion

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

Physical aspects
            Extent - RDA 3.4
            Dimensions - RDA 3.5
            Base material - RDA 3.6
            Applied material - RDA 3.7
            Mount - RDA 3.8
            Production method - RDA 3.9
            Generation - RDA 3.10           
            Layout - RDA 3.11
            Book format - RDA 3.12
            Font size- RDA 3.13
            Polarity - RDA 3.14
            Reduction ratio - RDA 315.
Specialized groups of physical characteristics
            Sound characteristic - RDA 3.16
            Projection characteristic of Motion Picture film - RDA 3.17
            Video characteristic - RDA 3.18
            Digital file characteristic - RDA 3.19

2.2. Carrier characteristics in Field 300

Field 300 provides subfields that could be used to record most of the carrier characteristic information in a summary manner, with very little parsing.

Extent and Dimensions are specifically identified in subfields $a and $c. Subfield $b would be used for the other RDA carrier characteristics.  The extent information in subfield $a has not traditionally been parsed by library catalogers although the subfields $f and $g were enabled for all forms of material at the time of format integration in 1988 (they had been defined previously only for manuscript material).

In order to parse the information in subfield $b, the subfield could be made repeatable.


300 ## $a1 sound disc (20 min.) $b analog, 33 1/3 rpm, stereo $c 12 in.
300 ## $a1 sound disc (20 min.) $b analog, $b 33 1/3 rpm, $b stereo $c 12 in. [parsed $b]
300 ## $a 6 maps on 1 sheet $b both sides $c 45 x 80 cm, on sheet 50 x 44 cm

2.3. General carrier characteristics in textual form

When there is concern about recording many carrier elements in 300 $b, a revised and expanded field 340 and even more detailed fields 344-347 could be included in a record in lieu of or in addition to the summary in 300.  Separate content designation would provide automated support for the user tasks of finding, identifying and selecting resources based on these specialized characteristics if systems took advantage of the information in their search modules, and they would allow for better mapping to other metadata schemes and cataloging codes without a loss of granularity.

Field 340 has been in the format since 1996 with subfields $a-$e defined.  It can be augmented to identify each general carrier characteristic found in RDA. Adding subfield $2 to field 340 for Source would allow recording the use of the RDA or any other vocabulary as the source for terms. The field would be repeated for each different vocabulary source used.

2.4. Specially detailed carrier characteristics in textual form.

2.4.1. Four additional fields could be added to record special groups of carrier characteristics specific to Sound, projection, video, and digital files.  In MARC, as in RDA, these fields may be used when needed for different forms of material.  For example the Sound characteristics could by recorded on a record for a sound recording, motion picture, video, or digital file. Each field contains a $2 for the source of the terms, therefore the field would be repeated for each different vocabulary source used.

2.4.2. Alternatively, these four sets of detailed characteristics could be grouped in one repeatable field as follows.  One potential issue with this technique is handling growth in the number of characteristics.  Additional detailed characteristics could be added and they could not be kept contiguous with others of their type.

2.5. Examples

In all of these examples the dimensions have been left in 300 $c, although they could have been recorded instead in 340 $b.

300 ## $a1 sound disc (20 min.) $c 12 in.
344 ## $a analog $c 33 1/3 rpm $g stereo

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

The following two examples illustrate the carrier information under several scenarios

Under AACR2
300 ## $a 1 videodisc (95 min) $b sd., b&w; $c 4 3.4 in.
RDA using 300:
300 ## $a 1 videodisc (95 min.) $bNTSC, DVD video, sound, black and white $c 4 3/4 in.
RDA using 300 and 344-347:
300 ## $a 1 videodisc (95 min.) $b sound, black and white $c 4 3/4 in.
346 ## $b NTSC
347 ## $b DVD video
RDA using 300 and 34X:
300 ## $a 1 videodisc (95 min.) $b sound, black and white $c 4 3/4 in.
34Χ ## $l NTSC $n DVD video

Under AACR2
300 ## $a 5 sound discs $b digital $c 4 3.4 in.
RDA using 300:
300 ## $a 5 sound discs $b digital, CD audio $c 4 3.4 in.
RDA using 300 and 344-347:
300 ## $a 5 sound discs $b digital, CD audio $c 4 3.4 in.
344 ## $a digital
347 ## $b CD audio
RDA using 300 and 34X:
300 ## $a 5 sound discs $b digital, CD audio
34Χ ## $a digital $n CD audio

2.6. Notes pertaining to carrier characteristics

RDA 3.20 specifies a note pertaining to equipment or system requirements related to carriers.  MARC already has a specific note field for that information, Field 538 (System Details Note).

RDA 3.21 specifies item-specific carrier characteristics with examples of notes on imperfections, details of holdings, and other item-specific notes, e.g.:
            Library's copy lacks appendices, p.245-260
            Library set lacks slides 7-9
            Signed: Alex. Pope

Also RDA 3.22 specifies other notes pertaining to various aspects of carriers.  The mapping to MARC for RDA 3.22 indicates that other notes pertaining to carrier characteristics would be in field 500. There they cannot be distinguished as to the characteristic to which they pertain, if that is desirable. Since it would be expected that the notes about different characteristics would be carried in separate 500 note fields, a subfield $i could be added to Field 500 for the characteristic name as follows.


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

Alternatively, for RDA 3.22 notes, the 340, 344, 345, 356, and 347 fields could have a note subfield where notes pertaining to the characteristics in that subfield would be lodged.

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.

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


In the MARC 21 Bibliographic format:

-  Make 300 $b (Other physical details) repeatable.

-  Add new subfields to Field 340 as specified in section 2.3 above

-  Add new fields:
            Option 1:  Fields 344-347 as specified in section 2.4.1 above
            Option 2:  Field 34X as specified in section 2.4.2 above

In the MARC 21 Bibliographic and Community Information formats:

-  Add new subfield $i (Display text) (NR) to field 500 (General Note).

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