MAC: Core Midwinter Report 2021

Meetings held online January 26-28, 2021
Report by Karen Peters (Library of Congress), Chair, Encoding Standards Subcommittee

(Recordings of the meetings are available here)

January 26, 2020 Meeting, 10:30-12:30 EST

Chair Matthew Wise opened the meeting and explained the protocols for this set of virtual meetings, which were held via WebEx. After the MAC members introduced themselves, minutes from the June-July 2020 MAC Meetings were approved; and the 3 fast-track changes approved since those meetings and subsequently made part of MARC documentation in MARC Update No. 31 (December 2020) were noted:

  • Proposal No. 2020-FT01 made field 043 (Geographic Area Code) repeatable in the Bibliographic, Authority, Classification, and Community Information formats “to facilitate the inclusion of authority record control and standard numbers and URIs.”
  • Proposal No. 2020-FT02 added subfields $0 (Authority record control number or standard number) and $1 (Real World Object URI) to field 375 (Gender) of the Authority format “to support the identifier and IRI recording methods in the [now official] RDA toolkit.”
  • Proposal No. 2020-FT03 added subfields $0 and $1 to field 384 (Key) in the Bibliographic and Authority formats “to support the identifier and IRI recording methods for the elements key of expression and key of representative expression in the RDA toolkit.” Note that the examples in the proposal demonstrate the possibility of using subfield $1 to record links to Wikidata items for (musical) keys.

Proposal No. 2021-01, “Enhanced Edition Information for Dewey Decimal Numbers” was presented by Alex Kyrios on behalf of OCLC’s Dewey Editorial Team. The proposal seeks to align the Bibliographic, Authority, Classification, and Community Information Formats with the current state of Dewey Decimal Classification, which is now continuously updated rather than published in discrete editions. The proposal passed with amendments.

Proposal No. 2021-02, “Chronology-Only Data in Holdings Fields 853-855 and 863-865” was presented by Elizabeth Schlueter on behalf of OCLC. The proposal seeks to improve the encoding of data for chronology-only publications (as opposed to publications that employ enumeration) by replacing the the current requirement that subfield $a (First level of enumeration) be present with a requirement that either subfield $a or subfield $i (First level of chronology) be present. The proposal passed as written.

Proposal No. 2021-03, “Changes to Fields 008/21 and 006/04 for Type of Continuing Resource in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format” was presented by Regina Reynolds on behalf of the ISSN Review Group and ISSN International Centre, Paris. The proposal seeks to improve the faceting and statistical reporting of types of continuing resources through the addition of codes for Blog, Directory, Journal, Magazine, Newsletter, and Repository. The proposal passed with minor editorial changes.

Proposal No. 2021-05, “Renaming Field 348 and Defining New Subfields for Form of Musical Notation in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format” was presented by Karen Peters on behalf of the Music Library Association (MLA). The proposal seeks to encode form of musical notation terms in a manner that supports linked data applications—something that the field in which the terms are currently encoded, 546 (Language note) does not support—by defining new subfields $c (Form of musical notation term) and $d (Form of musical notation code) in field 348 (Format of Notated Music, to be renamed Notated Music Characteristics). The proposal also modifies field 546, subfield $b (Information code or alphabet) to indicate that field 348 is to be preferred for this purpose. Finally, the proposal suggests revisions to the existing examples for field 348, subfields $b (Format of notated music code) and $2 (Source of term) to clarify usage of the format of notated music code.

During the discussion, a question was raised regarding the use of the placeholder “[code for form of musical notation]” in some of the proposal’s examples. The placeholder was necessary because at the time the proposal was submitted, a code for RDA Form of Musical Notation Vocabulary Encoding Scheme (VES) had not yet been added to the MARC Genre/Form Code and Term Source Codes list; MLA had been informed that upon approval of the proposal, addition of one or more codes could be requested. The proposal passed with a correction to the incorrect form of Wikidata Item link used in one of the examples, and the (assumed) future replacement of the placeholders after the code(s) for RDA Form of Musical Notation are added to the Term Source Codes list (see below for further details).

The similarity between the codes for the RDA Form of Musical Notation VES and RDA Format of Notated Music VES suggested in the RDA Registry (rdafmn and rdafnm, respectively) was noted as a source of potential confusion in the coding of field 348, leading MLA to consider requesting an additional, alternate code for the RDA Form of Musical Notation VES. In the end, however, it was decided that having two codes for the same VES might simply replace once potential source of confusion with another; and that macros, templates, and possibly validation programs could be used to prevent coding errors. Upon approval of the proposal, addition of the code “rdafmn” was requested and approved (please see the Technical Notice dated February 26, 2021), and will used to replace the placeholders when the MARC documentation is updated later this year.

Proposal No. 2021-04, “Adding Subfields $0 and $1 to Field 022 in the MARC Bibliographic and Authority Formats” was presented by Deanna White on behalf of the ISSN Review Group and ISSN International Centre, Paris. The proposal, which provides a place in the International Standard Serial (ISSN) field for the ISSN URI, passed as written.

Proposal No. 2021-06, “Accommodating Work and Expression Dates, and Related Elements, in Bibliographic and Authority Field 046” was presented by Casey Mullin, together with Adam Schiff and Kelley McGrath, on behalf of the Core SAC Subcommittee on Faceted Vocabularies. The proposal seeks to provide a means of distinguishing between work and expression dates in the Bibliographic Format, and to add subfields for materials specified ($3) and explanatory notes ($x for nonpublic, and $z for public notes) in both Bibliographic and Authority Formats.

The proposal presented two options for its realization: Option 1 involved defining the field’s First Indicator for type of entity (Work, Expression, Manifestation), while Option 2 involved the addition of one or more new subfields for the recording of this information. A number of issues were raised, including whether combining features of the two Options would be beneficial, whether encoding to indicate Representative Expression had been considered, and objections to the inclusion of notes (subfields $x and $z). During the discussion, it became clear that the simpler Option 1 was favored by the majority, with the proposal’s drafters suggesting that any adjustments to accommodate the issues raised could be made in the future if deemed appropriate. The proposal passed deploying Option 1, and with the retention of proposed subfields $3, $x, and $z.

The January 26 meeting ended with a Library of Congress (LC) report from Sally McCallum. At present, LC catalogers participating in the BIBFRAME pilot are still required to input everything twice, once in MARC, and once in BIBFRAME. Over the next year, the aim is to eventually have LC catalogers cataloging in BIBFRAME only. Nevertheless, LC is still committed to providing MARC records for those who want them by converting BIBFRAME descriptions into MARC records. To aid in this endeavor, LC is going to make files of MARC records that have been converted from BIBFRAME available for testing in discovery systems outside of LC within the next couple of weeks.

January 27, 2021 Meeting, 10:30-12:30 EST

Proposal No. 2021-07, “Defining a New Subfield for Sound Content in Field 344 of the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format,” was introduced by Jodi Williamschen on behalf of the Network Development and MARC Standards Office (NDMSO), Library of Congress. The proposal defines a new subfield $i in Field 344 (Sound Characteristics) for the recording of the RDA Sound Content VES, which consists of the terms “sound,” and “silent”; and expands the definition of the field to include “silence” as a sound characteristic.

The ensuing discussion included the observation that in the “original” RDA, sound content was intended for use in describing certain resources, in particular moving image resources, that might or might not incorporate sound (sound or silent film); and for description in exceptional situations where a typically “silent” resource incorporates sound (for example, a picture book with a sound chip). In official RDA, however, catalogers have the option to use terms from the RDA Sound Content VES to describe any resource. As such, the proposed definition for the new subfield $i was deemed too narrow, accommodating as it does only “projected graphic resources, moving image resources, and their electronic equivalents.” Encoding of RDA sound content in field 344 (Sound Characteristics) was also questioned: it is not likely to be used by the catalogers of recorded sound resources who are the primary users of the field, as the encoding of RDA sound content is superfluous to the description of resources with the RDA Content Types “performed music,” “spoken word,” or “sounds.” For that reason, too, objections were made to the proposal’s third example, which uses subfield $i “sound” to describe an audiocassette accompanying a book (without, furthermore, using $i to describe the book as “silent”).

Conceding that field 344 is not a particularly good place for recording this information, discussants (re-)explored the possibility that RDA sound content might be more suitably encoded in fields 340 (Physical Medium, which in spite of its name now includes non-physical characteristics) or 345 (Moving Image Characteristics). Ultimately, both fields were rejected for the purpose, although narrowly so in the case of field 340 (11 votes in favor, versus 12 votes in favor of field 344).

In the end, the proposal passed—8 votes for and 5 against—with the subfield $i definition changed to “Indication of the presence or absence of sound in a resource. Usually used for projected graphic resources, moving image resources, and their electronic equivalents”; and with the third example replaced with one suggested in the Music Library Association’s official response to the proposal, which describes a picture book with an embedded sound chip.

Proposal No. 2021-08, “Defining a New Field for Encoded Supplementary Content Characteristics in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format,” was introduced by Jodi Williamschen on behalf of NDMSO. The proposal provides a means of encoding this information in a manner that supports linked data applications through definition of a new field 353, and was passed with a minor editorial change.

Proposal No. 2021-09, “Recording the Mode of Issuance for Manifestations in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format,” was introduced by Thurstan Young on behalf of the MARC-RDA Working Group (MRWG) and defines a new field 334 for recording this element in a manner both accommodates its redefinition in official RDA and supports linked data applications. The proposal passed as written.

Proposal No. 2021-10, “Recording the Type of Binding for Manifestations in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format,” was introduced by Thurstan Young on behalf of the MRWG and defines a new subfield $l in field 340 (Physical Medium) for recording terms from the new RDA Type of Binding VES. In the discussion that followed, however, it appeared that most commenters wanted the subfield (or perhaps a separate, newly-defined subfield) to be made available for use with other vocabularies besides the one set out in RDA. It was pointed out that MARC already accommodates the recording of alternate vocabularies’ terms, for example in some of the 6xx fields, or in field 553 (Binding Information)—although field 553 is by definition “intended primarily for use with antiquarian materials, rare books and other special collections.” Concern was also expressed regarding the effect this proposal might have on the current practice of using a single bibliographic record to describe both hard cover and paperback editions (as an example) of the same manifestation.

During the discussion, it was noted that two different definitions of “binding” were being referenced. One of these, referring to the method of binding, is what RDA terms “type of binding”; yet what many discussants were apparently concerned with was not the method, but the end result. In the end, then, the proposal was withdrawn for revision in order to provide an opportunity for further consultation with stakeholders. Pointing out the confusion caused by the terminology used by RDA, a suggestion was made that the RDA Steering Committee (RSC) be asked to rename the element “method of binding.” Such a request, however, is beyond the purview of the MARC Advisory Committee and would need to be made through a regional representative to RSC.

Discussion Paper No. 2021-DP01, “Defining Subfields $y and $z for Incorrect/Cancelled ISSNs in Field 490 of the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format” was introduced by Jay Weitz on behalf of OCLC, with Regina Reynolds (ISSN Review Group). Discussion of the paper revolved around whether catalogers were required to verify the accuracy of the ISSNs they record. It was nevertheless conceded that if a problem were noticed, the addition to MARC of the proposed new subfields would permit a cataloger to record the pertinent information. The paper will return as a proposal.

January 28, 2021 Meeting, 10:30-12:30

Discussion Paper No. 2021-DP02, “Designating an Introductory Statement in Field 672 of the MARC 21 Authority Format” was introduced by Reinhold Heuvelmann on behalf of the German National Library, for its Committee on Data Formats. Field 672, entitled “Title Related to the Entity,” is used in German-speaking countries for their authority file GND (Gemeinsame Normdatei). Currently, subfield $a (Title) sometimes includes an introductory statement that is not part of the title; indexing would be improved if this information were placed in a separate subfield. The discussion paper explores two possible subfields for holding this information: Option 1 employs subfield $i (“Display text,” based on the example set by fields such as 246), while Option 2 uses subfield $p (“Introductory phrase,” based on the example set by field 534). The paper will likely return as a proposal utilizing Option 1.

Discussion Paper No. 2021-DP03, “Coordinates for Geographic Positioning of Structures in Images in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format” was introduced by Pat Riva on behalf of the Canadian Committee on Metadata Exchange and explores broadening the definition of Field 034 (Coded Cartographic Mathematical Data) for the purpose. A suggestion that the paper might be turned into a Fast-Track proposal will be pursued.

Discussion Paper No. 2021-DP04, “Defining a New Subfield for Original Sound Capture and Storage in Field 344 of the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format” was introduced by Jodi Williamschen on behalf of NDMSO, who acknowledged the input provided by members of MLA and sound recording catalogers at LC. With the aim of improving conversion between MARC and BIBFRAME, as well as of supporting linked data applications, this discussion paper explores the definition of a new subfield $j to carry this information. It also suggests adding “Original” to the name of the field, since in the course of gathering input for this paper, it became clear that “capture and storage technique” is often misunderstood as referring to two separate operations—“capture” for the (original) recording method, and “storage” as something pertinent to the manifestation being cataloged—when both in fact apply to a single operation that occurs at the time a recording is first made. The paper will return as a proposal; see also the following Discussion Paper No. 2021-DP05.

Discussion Paper No. 2021-DP05, “Terms and Definitions in Field 007/13 for Sound Recordings in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format” was introduced by Jodi Williamschen on behalf of NDMSO. Input from members of MLA in the course of drafting Discussion Paper No. 2021-DP04 (above) made it clear that the definitions of the various methods of sound capture and storage technique were not well understood by all catalogers, including some music catalogers, and believed to be in need of updating in any case. The paper explores two options: Option 1 would make no changes at this time, while Option 2  suggests making definitional changes using Jay Weitz’s Music Coding and Tagging (2nd edition, 2001) as a guide. Option 2 also proposes splitting the current code d (Digital storage) into two codes: d (Digital capture and storage) and s (Direct Stream Digital).

The idea of splitting code d proved unpopular: not only are the distinctions between the two proposed codes not likely to be understood by all catalogers, but recognizing Direct Stream Digital as a separate form of digital capture and storage would open the door to the possible necessity of defining any new digital capture and storage techniques that might come into use in the future. The current definition of code d is sufficiently broad to cover all of these; furthermore, Direct Stream Digital (DSD) is a registered trademark, and as such should not be enshrined in MARC.

Recognizing that the definitions explored here should also be applied to any proposal resulting from Discussion Paper No. 2021-DP04, the paper will return as a proposal utilizing Option 2, but without splitting code d.

Discussion Paper No. 2021-DP06, “Recording Data Provenance in the MARC 21 Formats” was introduced by Thurstan Young on behalf of the MRWG. The paper explores possible ways in which the full range of methods made available in official RDA for recording this information might be supported, as the current possibilities are “often sparse and uneven.” Perhaps due to the complexity of the issue, there was little pre-meeting response to this paper; but a great deal of discussion took place during the meeting as Young sought guidance as to how the MRWG should proceed with converting the paper into a proposal.

The paper broadly explores 3 possible options: Selective Changes (Option 1); Generalized Changes (Option 2); and creation of an entirely new MARC 21 “mirror” format (Option 3). In the end, the most popular option was clearly Option 2, specifically its third sub-option, which would add additional subfields to the existing Metadata Provenance (883) field. The discussion paper will likely return as a proposal based on this option.

Prior to closing the meeting, the Chair announced that the MARC Advisory Committee’s June/July meetings would be virtual, regardless of ALA’s plans for its Annual Conference (which has since been determined to be held virtually as well), with the dates and times to be announced approximately one month in advance of the meetings.

BIBFRAME January 2021 Update Forum, January 24, 2021, 10:00-11:00 ET

(Presentation recording and slides are available here)

Sally McCallum (Chief, Network Development and MARC Standards Office (NDMSO), Library of Congress) opened the meeting, which was intended not only to report on BIBFRAME activity at the Library of Congress (LC), but also to highlight related vendor activities as well. Regarding LC’s activity, she outlined the BIBFRAME 100 project, which aims to have 100% of LC’s ~350 catalogers using BIBFRAME for bibliographic description 5 days per week, as opposed to the ~100 catalogers who are presently doing so 2 days per week. To assist with this aim, the BIBFRAME editor is currently being redeveloped with input from experienced BIBFRAME catalogers. The switchover to the new editor will begin in March 2021, with adjustments to the editor expected to continue throughout the year. Work also continues on conversion: MARC to BIBFRAME 1.6 was completed in 2020 and is ready for release, while BIBFRAME to MARC 1.1 will be completed and released sometime in 2021.

Other presenters from LC included Judith Cannan (Chief, Policy, Training, and Cooperative Programs Division, LC), who spoke on BIBFRAME and RDA. While BIBFRAME is “highly compatible” with RDA, it would be too challenging to have catalogers make the switch to BIBFRAME and official RDA at the same time. The intention, then, is to first have all LC catalogers trained and cataloging in BIBFRAME full time, after which (winter 2021-summer 2022) the catalogers will be trained in official RDA. Kevin Ford (NDMSO) then discussed the BIBFRAME system changes anticipated as part of the BIBFRAME 100 project, followed by Paul Frank (Policy, Training, and Cooperative Programs Division), who in his presentation “BIBFRAME from Home” spoke of the challenges presented by the necessity of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the possible effects of that experience on future cataloging practice.

Following the LC presentations, Alma Project Manager Itai Veltzman spoke on “Linked Data: Principles, visions, and thoughts of the future,” in which he outlined libraries’ need for linked data and how that is being realized in Ex Libris Products; followed by Index Data software engineer Wayne Schneider’s presentation “BIBFRAME in a MARC World: Workflows for bibliographic survival in troubled times,” in which he outlined the realization of both formats through the FOLIO Entities app; and “Updates from OCLC,” by OCLC Director of Metadata Quality Nathan Putnam, who outlined the work being done with BIBFRAME (including BIBFRAME/MARC conversion), the progress of and future plans for its Shared entity infrastructure project; and conclusions from its CONTENTdm linked data pilot.

OCLC and Linked Data: the transition to contextual metadata, March 2, 2021, 11:00-12:00 ET

(Presentation recording and slides are available here)

The most recent linked data update from OCLC consisted of three presentations by OCLC staff members. In “CONTENTdm Linked Data Pilot: Transforming metadata and improving discoverability,” Shane Huddleston (Project Manager, CONTENTdm) outlined the historical background of OCLC’s work with linked data, beginning in 2009 and culminating with the CONTENTdm Linked Data pilot that ended in 2020, stressing how each successive project built upon the experience of the last.  In “Shared Entity Management Infrastructure: Where we are,” John Chapman (Senior Project Manager, Metadata Strategy and Operations) described OCLC’s ongoing (2020-2021) Entity Management Infrastructure Project. Finally, in “An overview of OCLC’s work model within the entity management infrastructure,” Nathan Putnam (Director, Metadata Quality) compared OCLC’s Shared Entity Management Infrastructure (SEMI) model with the IFLA-LRM, BIBFRAME, and Share-VDE models.