DATE: January 7, 1999

NAME: Appropriate use for subfields in Field 852 in the MARC Holdings Format

SOURCE: Library of Congress

SUMMARY: This paper considers the definitions and use of field 852 (Location) subfields $b (Sublocation or collection), $c (Shelving location), $h (Classification part), $k (Call number prefix), and $m (Call number suffix). It poses questions about how institutions are distinguishing between these data elements and how they are used in systems. The question of making subfield $m (and perhaps $k) repeatable is posed.

KEYWORDS: Field 852 (HD); Location (HD)



1/7/99 - Forwarded to the MARC Advisory Committee for discussion at the January 1999 MARBI meetings.

1/31/99 - Results of MARC Advisory Committee discussion - Participants felt that the ambiguity in the use of 852 subfields is helpful. Since the field is fundamentally local data, the flexibility enables users to make decisions that fit their situation. The proposed coding of items shelved by a classified designation in the paper will be incorporated as an example into the field definition in the format. Participants did not foresee any problem in making subfield $k and $m repeatable, and a future proposal could address that.

DISCUSSION PAPER NO. 113: Subfields in field 852


Institutions have begun to increasingly use the MARC Holdings Format, as they attempt to gain better control of their collections. The format is very flexible, allowing institutions to adapt it according to their needs. However, this has sometimes resulted in differences in the use of content designators.

Field 852 is perhaps the most vital variable field in a MARC holdings record, since it contains the code or name of the holdings institution. It may simply identify the organization holding the item, or it may also include numerous subfields which contain detailed information that allow for locating an item within a collection.

As part of the Library of Congress' ILS implementation, LC will migrate holdings and copy specific data previously recorded in local internal fields and subfields in bibliographic records into holdings records. Much of this data is complex because of the massive size of the LC collection and the need to specify special collections, locations within special collections and portions of call numbers.

Planning for the migration of the data into holdings data elements, specifically those in field 852, has resulted in a closer look at the field and its examples. It has become obvious that the appropriate use of subfields is not entirely clear. In addition, holdings users have periodically consulted LC's Network Development and MARC Standards Office for guidance on the use of MARC holdings data elements in this field. Some of the definitions and examples do not provide adequate guidance.

This paper is intended to address questions of appropriate use of specific subfields of field 852 in order to gain information from those MARC users who have used the holdings format. It would be useful if established users of the format give information on their experience using the subfields and their expected purpose. In particular it considers the similarities and differences between sublocations and collections, shelving locations, and locations incorporated into classification or call numbers as prefixes or suffixes.


2.1 Subfield $b - Sublocation or collection

Subfield $b contains the name of the organizational division of the organization identified in subfield $a or the name of the collection in which the item is located or from which it is available. The name may be given in full or in a coded form. It is a repeatable subfield so that one can indicate the organizational hierarchy of the sublocation.

Questions that have emerged:

What distinguishes a collection or sublocation recorded in subfield $b from a collection or sublocation that is considered a call number prefix (subfield $k) or suffix (subfield $m) because it identifies a separately filed sequence of call numbers within an organizational division?

If the organizational division or sublocation serves as both a collection location and a call number prefix or suffix, should the information be repeated in 852$b and in 852$k or 852$m, to assist with call number displays or spine label production? Example:

	852  01$b Main Reading Room  $k MRR

How is a physical building sublocation, such as "Annex," distinguished between subfield $b and subfield $c Shelving location?

Would the purpose of 852 subfield $b be clearer if the definition were limited to collections and sublocations that are "organizational" divisions (the part of a library to contact to locate material), rather than any collection names or physical sublocations? Is it useful to allow for any kind of collection name so that the first 852 subfield $b identifies an organizational division and a second subfield $b can identify the name of a collection that lacks more specific call number information in 852 subfield $h or subfield $j?

Examples in the format (extracted from different subfields) include:

	852  02 $aCtY $bMain $hLB201 $i.M63
852 ## $aCSf $b Sci $t1
852 ## $aNational Geographic Society $bPersonnel Dept.$e17th & M St., N.W., Washington, DC USA
852 01 $aViBlbV $bMain Lib $bMRR $kRef $hHF5531.A1 $iN4273
852 81 $aFrPALP $bAnnex $ccenter shelves $e10, rue du General Camou $e75007 Paris $nfr

2.2 Subfield $c - Shelving location

Subfield $c contains a description of the shelving location of the item within a collection of the holdings organization. It may show the physical location within a sublocation. Examples from the format:

	852  81$a[location identifier]$bMain$cmezzanine stacks
852 81$a[location identifier]$bMain$coversize shelving$qchild's graffiti on end papers

It is ambiguous in the format when data is to be considered a shelving location and, as with subfield $b, when it is a call number prefix or suffix. Something like "folio" could designate a specific shelving location within a collection or it could be considered part of the call number.

Secondly, it is not clear whether subfield $c is to be used for permanent or temporary locations or both. The Holdings Format also contains item information fields (876-878) that contain a subfield for temporary location. There may also be a need to include information about a temporary location at the holdings level, rather than be forced to use an item field for that information.

2.3 Subfield $h - Classification part

Subfield $h is used for the classification portion of the call number used as the shelving scheme for an item. It is intended to allow for the location of an item in a collection. Any call number prefix is recorded in $k and any suffix in $m. Subfield $h is non-repeatable and subfield $i is repeatable.

Some institutions shelve portions of their collections by an alphabetic designation. A common example of this is the many public libraries using the Dewey Decimal Classification that designate fiction books by "F" or "Fic" and the surname of the author (main entry), e.g. "Adams". Users have inquired how to code these, and whether to consider "Fic" the Classification part in $h, the Item part in $i (without an $h) or "Fic Adams" the shelving location in $c. Another option would be to use the shelving control number in subfield $j. The format is ambiguous about this type of situation. The following is suggested:

	852  80 $a $hFic $iAdams

This considers "Fic" a substitute for the Classification part and "Adams" as the Item part.

2.4 Subfield $k - Call number prefix and subfield $m - Call number suffix

Subfield $k contains a term that precedes the call number and is encoded before the call number in subfields $h and $i. An example in the format shows:

	852  01 $aViBlbV $bMain Lib $bMRR $kRef $hHF5531.A1 $iN4273

In this case, "Ref" is considered a call number prefix. In other cases, "Ref" might be considered a shelving location or a sublocation within a collection. It is not clear how to distinguish these situations. It might be assumed that many systems use the data in $h, $i, $k, and $m to produce spine labels for items.

Subfield $m is defined as a term that follows the call number. An example in the format includes:

	852  ## $aDLC $hG3820 1687 $i.H62 $mVault

In this case, "Vault" could also be considered a shelving location ($c).

Both $k and $m are non-repeatable. However, LC has wondered if there would be benefits to repeatingt subfield $m when there are two pieces of information to record about the location of an item within a call number run. An example is an item that is housed in the folio section of a vault:

	852 00 $aDLC $bc-G&M $hG1200 $i.U57 $m Vault : fol.

Another example is an item that is part a specific collection within an organizational division. The name of the collection might be considered a call number suffix or prefix, because the item is located in a separate run of the call number, rather than in the main run of the division's call numbers. Example:

	852 00 $aDLC $bc-RareBkCo $hAC20 $i.R4 $mPre-1801 Coll : fol

In this case, there is a run of that classification number within the main Rare Book Collection and another run in the Pre-1801 Coll. In LC's bibliographic records, the data appears together in a single subfield for local call number information. It could be left as a call number suffix, divided between call number prefix ("Pre-1801 Coll") and suffix ("fol"), or recorded in a repeatable $m (if $m were made repeatable). If two different elements are considered call number suffixes, should they be separately content designated?


1. How are systems using subfields $b, $c, $h, $k, and $m for various functions?

2. Can both permanent and temporary locations be recorded in subfield $c? Is there a need to distinguish at the holdings level (rather than item level, as in field 876-878 subfield $l) between permanent and temporary location?

3. How should call numbers be coded when the institution shelves the item by a classified designation, such as the example in section 2.3, which could use the hierarchical approach of $h and $i or the shelving control number subfield $j?

4. How does one distinguish whether an element should be recorded as a call number prefix or suffix, or as a sublocation or shelving location? Is the decision made based on functionality of the system, for instance when the system uses the data in $h, $i, $k, and $m to print a label? Shall institutions make their decisions individually on what best fits their needs, or should the format be more specific about how to distinguish between these different data elements?

5. Would there be any problems making subfield $m repeatable? If so, should subfield $k also become repeatable?

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