Special Libraries Cataloguing, Inc.

Suggested Rda/Marc Modifications To Make Records More Patron-Friendly

Rules Were Made for the Patrons, not Patrons for the Rules: Handout
J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, 17 October 2010

Fixed Fields

Although I think MARC21 fixed fields need a major overhaul and simplification, there are only two departure from present fixed field practice I will suggest you adopt. MARBI refused to assign an 007/04 Videorecording format code for DVD-HD. Just because HD's are no longer being produced, is not to say we don't have them in archival collections. The British Museum even has quite a collection of clay tablets. We still have a MARC code for Beta. Unless and until MARBI come to its senses, code HD as "v" DVD, not "z" Other. Patrons think of them as DVDs.

State university press publications should be excluded from 008/28 = s meaning state government document. No patron will think of the electronic version of a state university press monograph as a state document, nor want it if searching or creating a bibliography based on that value.

Standard Numbers

While the PCC standard for the provider neutral electronic monograph record takes advantage of the MARC 020|z for ISBNs representing the original print version, it does not do the same for 010|z LCCN, but rather instructs the use of 776|w, even though that subfield is not dedicated only to the LCCN. Many more of our small clients index 010|z than 776|w. In addition to 776|w for those who wish it (only one client so far), we give the print LCCN in 010|z.


Classification numbers, whether 082 DDC or 050 LCC, should be assigned to all materials in your collection. It is a matter of integration with the collection. Class numbers serve many more purposes than just "mark and park".

In October of 1999 there was a discussion on Autocat (an e-list for cataloguers) of the advantages and disadvantages of classifying Internet resources catalogued locally, which grew to include a discussion of cataloguing electronic resources generally.

While some librarians do see classification as primarily a method of assigning a shelf location for a physical item, many others see classification as a valid subject approach for all the materials in the collection, or available to the library's patrons through the library catalogue.

In the Autocat discussion there was a fairly clear division between those who saw classification as call number assignment and who felt no need of it for material not physically present in the collection, and those who saw classification as a means of subject organization. The latter saw classification as important for all library materials, placing resources in a systematic array, with mammals from Aardvarks to Zebras together, as opposed to being scattered alphabetically.

In addition, the class number may be used in measuring the strength of the collection in certain areas, and for producing bibliographies. Although over a decade old, these arguments still seem valid to me.


RDA, unlike ISBD and AACR2, is written without regard to display. SLC agrees with Martha Yee (whose paper for IFLA is on our website), that the best display is an unlabeled ISBD one. Not only are labels space consuming in display, using space better used for helpful data, they are often simply wrong. To label actors, directors, composers, and even criminal defendants as "Authors" is misleading at best.

Adapting and Creating Description

For the sake of interfiling with derived records, we should probably adhere pretty closely to the rules for choice and form of main entry. The only departure we have made to author main entry, at a client's insistence, was do enter the Dalai Lama as "Dalai Lama", with dates. We even got the approval of his office in India to do that.

The abandonment of the rule of three will result in a lot of what would have been 700 author added entries being 100 author main entries, with a lot of what would have been 130 authority records being 100|a|t authority records. This is, I suspect, where superimposition will come into play, with our leaving well enough alone in older records.

As we move down the MARC fields, there are more patron helpful practices I would like to urge upon you.

We find DVD records require more adaptation to be patron friendly than any other genre.

130 Uniform title as main entry requires change much more often than 100 personal author entry. Our clients reject a 130 saying "(Motion picture)" for a motion picture on a DVD. "It's not a motion picture" they say, "it's a videorecording." They see no need to distinguish the title from another title they don't even own. They see no logic to sometimes having that 130 and sometimes not.

A 130 in a different language from 245 gets moved to 246 1 |iTranslation of:|a or 730, uniform title. Ditto 240. The only 130s most of our clients like are ones for the Bible, and the only 240s they accept are for classical music and Shakespeare's plays. I suspect most patrons feel the same, and find them confusing.

Title 245 is where we get really radical, particularly in the case of foreign language films. If the English title (and, in the case of bilingual Canada, the French title) is prominent on the case, that's what they want in 245|a, and what they wish used as the basis for the Cutter. So we do a bit of cutting and pasting to reverse the order, regardless of the title frame, and the foreign language parallel title goes in 246 alternate title as opposed to the English one. The patron sees the case, not the title frame, in selecting the item.

While we are at 245, our clients dislike a long statement of responsibility for a motion picture which clutter brief display, and divides persons and corporate bodies from those credited in 508. So a bit of cutting and pasting moves those credits to 508, with a semicolon, and the first word already in 508 changed to lower case.

Ms Olson bases her instruction to divide credits between 245|c and 508 on AACR2. RDA is less clear on this (as it is less clear on many things).

Just as a knowledge of yee olde unit card helps one understand AACR2, a knowledge of AACR2 helps one understand RDA. How library school students coming to RDA without background will understand it, I've no idea.

For example, you know how I feel about dividing non cast credits between 245|c and 508 for video recordings.

RDA says at 2.4.1 (which I assume applies to 245|c):

2,4,1 "A statement of responsibility is a statement relating to the identification and/or function of any persons, families, or corporate bodies responsible for the creation of, or contributing to the realization of, the intellectual or artistic content of a resource."

But RDA says at

"For statements identifying persons who have contributed to the artistic and/or technical production of a motion picture or video recording, see the instructions given under 7.21."

The above would seem to me to instruct that all responsible persons for a video be in a note. Shouldn't there be "other" in front of "persons" if some were to be given in the statement of responsibility?

RDA says at (which I assume applies to 508):

"Artistic and/or technical credits are listings of persons, families, or corporate bodies (other than the cast) who have contributed to the artistic and/or technical production of a motion picture or video recording ..."

This says nothing about putting some contributors in a statement of responsibility. But appendix examples show a 245|c for a video,

Unless one knows the distinctions made in AACR2 between statement of responsibility and credits note, the RDA instructions are too vague to follow. The general instruction, the reference to, and all speak of "contributors" with no distinction made. So let's take advantage of that vagueness, use "cataloguer judgement" and combine credits 1n one place, namely 508.

On to 250 edition.

We find "widescreen" and "letterbox" not really to be 250 edition statements. That information is more at home in 538 with Region and nature of sound. Now that with RDA, DVD can at long last moved to 300 collation where it logically belongs, 538 can be limited to this sort of information.

Next 260, imprint.

The LCRI (Library of Congress Rule Interpretation) which turned AACR2 on its head, and had us describing the print original in 260 and the reproduction in 533, was never very satisfactory. SLC's solution was a compound 260, with the original publisher in 260|a|b|c, and the electronic manufacturer or agregator in 260|e|f|g. That is not, of course, a provider neutral record. We continue that practice where the agregator adds value to the resource, or includes it in an electronic series which needs to be searchable.

Speaking of the little used MARC21 260|e and |f for place and manufacturer, their use is a way of getting around AACR2 and OCLC's instruction to omit 260|a and |b for locally produced nonbook material. The AACR2 strong distinction between published and unpublished became out of date with the invention of the photocopier, not to mention copying of VHS's and DVDs. If we know where and by whom an item was manufactured, so should our patrons.

The idea of a repeating 260 went over like a lead balloon with our clients. Their rejection of earliest imprint in the single 260 for a continuing resource is quite heritical. They like the integrating resource practice of latest imprint in 260 for all continuing resources. If they retain only the current year, why would they care who published the first issue in the preceding century? If the whole file is available electronically through the current publisher, why should they care who published the earlier print version?

While RDA is supposed to be a step into the future, in some of its provisions, such as omission of place and manufacturer for local materials, and earliest imprint for serials, it is already out of date. These practices are not in accord with present electronic reality. RDA reinvented some wheels which were rolling quite nicely, and ignored other matters in need of updating.

RDA provides that a long English phrase that publication date is "not identified" be followed by |g manufacturing date if known, but without place and name of manufacturer if place and publisher are given. This would result in a very strange display: saying date is not known, followed by a date! I suggest replacing that phrase and AACR2 style estimated date with question mark in brackets.

300 Collation

Now, the field which has been most problematic for remote electronic resources. When the Joint Steering Committee (JSC) introduced the option of 300 Collation for remote electronic resources to AACR2, they made the mistake of mixing up carrier and content SMD examples. The PCC standard for provider neutral electronic monograph records not only corrects the LCRI error of describing the print original as opposed to the electronic reproduction one has, but also specifies a carrier SMD followed by content extent in curves. Bravo.

The only complaint some of our clients have with the PCC standard for 300 collation is that "online resource" is too general. It can apply equally to an electronic text, a website, a computer game, a database, or a streaming video. Most prefer having those exact SMDs.

336-338 Content, Media Type and Carrier

These new RDA/MARC21 fields have already been discussed.

5XX Notes

Notes are perhaps more important for the materials we catalogue than for print items, because often the item cannot be physically examined.

As mentioned already, the numbering of 5XX does not lend itself to good display. In addition to removing DVD from 538 in favour of 300, there are a few other practices which help standardize order of notes without departing from MARC tag order in display, and speeds up proof reading of records. "Special features" becomes a 501, since the special features are issued on the DVD with the feature film. "Originally issued as ..." becomes a 503, since it is history; since 503 is an obsolete MARC field, that is at least one suggestion you are unlikely to adopt. But if you have any influence with MARBI, try to get 503 reinstated.

6XX Subjects

The cautionary tale of Sanford Berman teaches us that we can not play too fast and loose with 6XX subject heading assignment, particularly if it adds to the cost of subject cataloguing. The fact that materials catalogued according to his system had the highest circulation rate of any on the continent, did not save his methods.

I do urge you to enter what the item is about in 650, and what the item is in 655. Someday we will have true genre indexes. In one of their very few departures from pragmatism, some music cataloguers continue to enter Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) music genre terms in 650, awaiting a new music genre list for 655. The difficulty that creates is that when adopting the new terms, global change is difficult. One has to first determine whether the term in 650 was applied to the item because it was *about* the genre, or was the genre, doubling the programming difficulty of the task.

7XX Added Entries and Linking Fields

In the days of the card catalogue, you could tell how much cards were consulted by how dirty they were on top. At the University of British Columbia Library, the entire drawer of cards filed under "Encyclopaedia Britannica Films" was pristine white. We dumped the cards to create room in adjacent over crowded drawers and nobody missed them. Those 710s for production companies are a waste of effort. If anyone wants one of those two to five production companies association with a feature film, keyword search works fine. Patrons do not think of them as authors.

I suggest removing the RDA/MARC21 7XX |icontains (work), and |icontains (expression) from analytical entries. If you wish a display constant, 2nd indicator "2" could serve that purpose. These }i phrases would be meaningless to patrons, and may complicate filing.

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