MAC: Core Midwinter Report 2022

MARC Advisory Committee (MAC) Annual Meetings, January 25-27, 2022
Report by Karen Peters (Library of Congress), Chair, Encoding Standards Subcommittee
(Recordings of the meetings are available here; note that timestamps are provided for each paper)

MAC Meeting No. 1, January 25, 2022, 10:30-12:30 ET

MAC Chair Cate Gerhart opened the meeting and explained the protocols for this set of virtual meetings, which were held via WebEx. After the MAC members introduced ourselves, the minutes from the June 2021 meetings were approved, and it was noted that no fast-track proposals had been approved since the June meetings.

Proposal No. 2022-01, “Revising Field 340 to Reduce Redundancies Related to Newer Fields 34X in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format,” was introduced by Jay Weitz on behalf of OCLC, which authored the proposal in consultation with MLA and OCLC. The proposal redefines field 340 subfield $f to limit its use to the reduction ratio value of microform resources, and adds a new subfield $q for recording a corresponding reduction ratio designator. It also changes the 340 field definition and scope to clarify that certain specifications for recorded sound, moving image, and digital resources that had formerly been recorded in field 340 subfield $f should now be recorded in the more recently defined locations for those specifications (in fields 344, 345, 346, and 347). In the case of recorded sound resources, the proposal makes it clear that the playing speed of non-digital resources is to be recorded in field 344 (Sound characteristics) subfield $c (Playing speed), and that of digital resources in field 347 (Digital file characteristics) subfield $f (Encoded bitrate). The proposal passed unanimously with editorial changes, including replacement of the word “prefer” with “use” in the field definition and scope.

Proposal No. 2022-02, “Defining a Field to Express Record Equivalent Relationships in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format,” was introduced by Hong Cui on behalf of Library and Archives Canada (LAC), the Canadian Committee on Metadata Exchange, and OCLC. The proposal creates a new field 788 (Equivalent Description in Another Language) for use in cases where bibliographic descriptions in different languages of cataloging are created for manifestations containing expressions in more than one language. As Canada is a country with two official languages, LAC is required by law to follow a bilingual cataloging policy whereby equivalent English- and French-language bibliographic descriptions for the same manifestation are provided in order to meet the needs of users of both languages.

Concerns expressed included the possibility that the proposed new field might be misused, and some questioned the restriction of the proposed new field to manifestations containing expressions in more than one language. In response to the latter, Canadian commenters noted that such a change might result in the privileging (perceived or otherwise) of one language over another, and suggested that such a modification, if implemented, would change the proposal so significantly that it should be withdrawn at this time and reconsidered during the next round of MAC meetings. In the end, those questioning the restriction prevailed, and the proposal passed unanimously, with the first paragraph of the field definition amended to the less restrictive, “Information concerning a manifestation that is separately described in different languages of cataloging”—and with the understanding that future changes to the field addressing the Canadians’ concerns could be made.

MAC Meeting No. 2, January 26, 2022, 10:30-12:30 ET

Proposal No. 2022-03, “Recording Non-Cartographic Scale Content in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format,” was introduced by Hong Cui on behalf of the MARC/RDA Working Group. The proposal, which renames field 507 (from Scale Note for Graphic Material to Scale Note for Visual Materials), and broadens its field definition and scope to better align with RDA when recording non-cartographic scale content, passed unanimously with editorial changes.

Proposal No. 2022-04, “Recording Representative Expressions in the MARC 21 Authority and Bibliographic Formats,” was introduced by Thurstan Young on behalf of the MARC/RDA Working Group. The proposal defines a new MARC field 387 (Representative Expressions) for use in encoding a whole raft of expression characteristics—including, among others, date, date of capture, duration, language, and place of capture—considered to be canonical sources of data for identifying works under Official RDA—each in its own linkable subfield. Medium of performance of musical content of representative expression, and Key of representative expression, however, were omitted from the new field at the music community’s request: our community has a great deal of this data already recorded in existing fields and, unlike other the MAC constituencies, sees no reason to relocate the data if it can be accommodated in its present location. Furthermore, in most cases, medium of performance, when taken as a whole, cannot be expressed in a single subfield. To accommodate these two exceptions, the proposal adds first indicators 2 (Medium of performance of musical content of representative expression) and 3 (Partial medium of performance of musical content of representative expression) field 382 (Medium of Performance); and adds a first indicator 2 (Key of representative expression) to field 384 (Key).

Among the concerns expressed regarded the determination that something is a representative expression. Discussants pointed out that there can be more than one canonical version; that there is no requirement to document which publication is used to make such a determination; and that data provenance could be recorded to indicate responsibility for the determination (see Proposal No. 2022-05 immediately following). Another concern was that the data encoded in the new 387 field lacked context and might introduce a significant amount of noise into the MARC record that might not be satisfactorily convertible into BIBFRAME.

Finally, regarding field 384, it was suggested that there might be a need at times to record both original key and key of representative expression, and so the field should be made repeatable in the Authority format. It was recognized, however, that such a change could be made editorially or as a fast-track proposal, and so permit time for further consideration of the issue. In the end, the proposal passed with a change of the field’s name to Representative Expression Characteristics, with only one of the 17 votes opposed.

Proposal No. 2022-05, “Recording Data Provenance in the MARC 21 Authority and Bibliographic Formats,” was introduced by Thurstan Young for the MARC/RDA Working Group. The proposal defines subfield $7 (Data provenance) for the purpose in the large number of fields where such is possible; where it is not, subfield $5 (in fields 533, 760-787, and 856) or subfield $z (in fields 800-830) would be used instead. Finally, the proposal includes a provision that code lists for data provenance categories and data provenance subfield relationships be established and made available on the Library of Congress website.

Concerns expressed included the use of subfield $5, which is already widely used as a control subfield (Institution to which field applies); and $z, which apparently would cause problems for OCLC in fields 800-830. These concerns were addressed in modifications to the proposal as finally passed (15 in favor, 1 against, 1 abstention) through changes allowing (1) the proposed subfield $5 to be replaced by (a) subfield $y in field 533, (b) subfield $l in fields 760-787, and (c) subfield $e in field 856; (2) the proposed subfield $z to be replaced by subfield $y in fields 800-830. Also, “if” was changed to “when” in the last sentence of the new data provenance subfields’ definitions.

Proposal No. 2022-06, “Designating Further Open Access and License Information for Remote Online Resources in the MARC 21 Formats,” was introduced by Reinhold Heuvelmann on behalf of the German National Library and OCLC. The proposal continues the work begun in Proposal No. 2019-01 (“Designating Open Access and License Information for Remote Online Resources in the MARC 21 Formats”) through the addition of four new subfields to fields 856 (Electronic Location and Access)—$l (Standardized information governing access), $n (Terms governing access), $r (Standardized information governing use and reproduction), and $6 (Terms governing use and reproduction)—that could be used to provide the equivalent to information encoded in fields 506 (Restrictions on Access Note) and 540/845 (Terms Governing Use and Reproduction Note), but in conjunction with a url. The proposal passed unanimously, with the agreement that the proposed definitions of all four of the new subfields would be modified in various ways.

Discussion Paper No. 2022-DP04, “Adding Subfields $i and $4 to Field 373 of the MARC 21 Authority Format” was introduced by Adam Schiff for the PCC Standing Committee on Standards. The paper proposes the addition of subfield $i (Relationship information) and $4 (Relationship) to field 373 (Associated Group), and Adam requested that the discussion paper be elevated to a fast-track proposal since, based on pre-meeting comments, there seemed to be unanimous support for it.

A concern was expressed that personally identifiable information might be recorded in field 373. It was noted, however, that affiliations and other personal data are already commonly recorded throughout the MARC formats, and while recognizing that problems might indeed result from this practice, it was nevertheless agreed that consideration of the issue is out of scope for MARC documentation. The (now) fast-track proposal was passed.

MAC Meeting No. 3, January 27, 2022, 10:30-12:30 ET

Business Meeting

  • MARC Update 33 was released in November 2021 and the changes published there can now be implemented.
  • While ALA is going ahead with plans for an in-person Annual Meeting in June 2022, MAC has another month to decide whether or not to meet in person in conjunction with ALA Annual. MAC members will discuss the matter by email before coming to a decision.

Discussion Paper No. 2022-DP01, “Modernization of Field 856 Second Indicator and Subfield $3 in the MARC 21 Formats,” was introduced by Jay Weitz on behalf of OCLC. The paper proposes to continue the work begun with MARC Proposal No. 2020-03 (Modernization of Field 856 in the MARC 21 Formats) by clarifying the use of existing Second Indicator (Relationship) values, defining new Second Indicator values for subsets of resources, and updating the definition of subfield $3 (Materials specified). The paper’s goals found general support, although concerns were raised regarding some of the terminology used. Some members questioned the motives for the proposed expansion of subfield $3 as well as the presence of guidelines that more properly belong in the MARC 21 guidelines. The paper will return as a proposal, and the authors will request guidance for specific wording via email.

Discussion Paper No. 2022-DP02, “Enrichment of Web Archive Information in Field 856 in the MARC 21 Formats,” was introduced by Juha Hakala on behalf of the Finnish National Library and the ISSN International Centre, Paris. The paper considers options for adding new subfields to the existing field 856 (Electronic Location and Access) for the encoding of persistent identifiers (PIDs)—including allowance for separation of current and past (i.e., functional and dead) URL addresses, and the recording of valid and confirmed Web archive addresses for the latter. Additionally, the paper also to provide a place for recording date ranges for relevant archived content, and also explains the need for specifying file formats for archived content more precisely, suggesting the use of repeatable subfields $q (Electronic format type) for the purpose.

Concerns expressed include the use of so many of the recently-freed (by MARC Proposal No. 2020-03) field 856 subfields, as well as the confusion that might result between legacy data and reuse of these fields; and that the proposed changes might be perceived as placing a burden on catalogers to verify the currency of PIDs. It was also questioned whether archival information truly belongs in field 856, or would be better placed in a new field defined for the purpose. On the last point, a straw poll found in favor of defining a new field (21 votes for, 2 against), even though it was recognized that such a solution might involve additional cost with display configuration, and could require modifications to the 856 field/relocation of data currently encoded in that field. The paper’s authors have the information needed to proceed.

Discussion Paper No. 2022-DP03, “Recording Concrete Action Interval Dates in Field 583 of the MARC 21 Bibliographic and Holdings Formats,” was introduced by Sara Amato on behalf of the OCLC Shared Print Metadata Advisory Group. The paper explores options within field 583 (Action Note) that would allow the recording of concrete end dates for shared print retention commitments in a manner aligning with subfield $c (Time/date of action) conventions, and further proposes the refining and possible relocation of the date formatting instructions currently found under that subfield. To this end, four options were presented, and while pre-meeting comments indicated no clear choice of which of the foue might be preferred, opinion clearly fell into two camps: one preferring ease of implementation, and the other a result producing cleaner data. A straw poll to evaluate the two types of solution found 14 to 6 in favor of cleaner data. A second straw poll to determine which was preferable–redefinition of subfield $c, or definition of a new subfield (one also accommodating use of EDTF)—did not indicate as clear a preference, with 9 to 6 in favor of redefinition. As such, the shared print community will be consulted on their preferences prior to proceeding.

Discussion Paper No. 2022-DP05, “Accommodating Subject Relationships to Works and Expressions in the MARC 21 Authority Format,” was introduced by Adam Schiff on behalf of the PCC Standing Committee on Standards. The paper offers three possible options for the purpose, but a summary of pre-meeting comments did not indicate a preference for any one of the three.

After summarizing the pre-meeting comments, MAC Chair Cate Gerhart read a longish statement provided by Sally McCallum on behalf of the Library of Congress. Basically, the statement revealed that three years ago, LC conducted an internal study exploring the possibility of migrating title (including name/title) authority records from the Authority format to the Bibliographic format. Based on this study, LC’s opinion is that there exists a good deal of overlap between the two formats, and that little modification of the Bibliographic Format would be needed to effect such a change. In LC’s opinion, its work with BIBFRAME, including initial work with BIBFRAME Hubs, further supports the feasibility of such a migration. As a result, LC has now commissioned XSLT code that could be used to convert title Authority records to the Bibliographic format and will begin experimenting with the code next month (February 2022) in order to better understand the process and any challenges involved. Thus, LC does not support 2022-DP05, as the paper seeks changes to the Authority format in support of what LC believes is essentially bibliographic description; furthermore, it would not implement any changes that might result from a conversion of 2022-DP05 to a proposal approved by MAC.

The LC statement was followed by a long period of silence. Finally, John Myers spoke up and said, essentially, that the opinion expressed in LC’s statement is completely at odds with how the rest of us model the relationship between bibliographic and authority records.

Setting LC’s objections aside for the moment and attempting to address 2022-DP05 itself, discussants considered whether the option modifying 5XX fields (Option 1) or one modifying 3XX fields (Option 2, adding a new 3XX field; or Option 3, adding new subfields to field 381) would be preferable. Nevertheless, the issue of LC’s interest in moving title authority records to the Bibliographic format was raised again and discussed further, during which discussion it was noted that the PCC will continue to make Work and Expression authority records in MARC, and not in BIBFRAME. Nevertheless, it was agreed that the issue needs to be resolved before 2022-DP05’s authors can move forward. Sally suggested that LC might work with Adam on that, and Thurstan Young further suggested that the MARC/RDA Working Group might want to work on this, perhaps with Adam joining in on the work. Before the discussion concluded, I pointed out the likely concern of the music community with LC’s plans, as we have encoded a great deal of data in our (especially name/title) authority records over the years and would not like to see all of our hard work lost.

BIBFRAME Update Forum, January 24, 2022, 1:00-2:00 ET

(A recording of the Forum can be accessed here)

The Forum began with Beacher Wiggins and Sally McCallum (Library of Congress) presenting a Progress Report on BIBFRAME 100. The goal of BIBFRAME 100 is to get as many LC catalogers as possible working in BIBFRAME this year, and LC is in the home stretch towards the goal. LC projects that 80-90 % of its catalogers will be solely using the BIBFRAME editor for cataloging and will no longer have to create bibliographic descriptions in both MARC and BIBFRAME as Pilot participants do now. Sally also reported that and the BIBFRAME database have been successfully merged; that a new version (1.7) of the MARC to BIBFRAME conversion is available, with reduced duplication in the BIBFRAME output; that work on the conversion of BIBFRAME to MARC continues; that LC is testing a conversion of title and name/title authority descriptions from the MARC Authority to the MARC Bibliographic format (see also discussion of 2022-DP05 above); and that LC is testing programs for distribution of BIBFRAME data.

Matt Miller and Paul Frank (Library of Congress) then gave a presentation on LC’s new BIBFRAME editor, Marva, which was introduced in June 2021 (the current version is 0.8). Paul discussed the challenges he has faced working on the Marva BIBFRAME user manual: since BIBFRAME is constantly changing as it develops, input from BIBFRAME Pilot participants is necessary to the writing of the user manual, and Paul has been using focus sessions on specific aspects of BIBFRAME to solicit this input. So far, sessions on six different topics have been held and more are planned. Paul noted that the Marva manual will be made available to the public. Matt, for his part, explained and demonstrated some of the changes he has been making to Marva, noting that further changes remain to be made.

Filip Jakobsen (SAMHÆNG, for Share-VDE) spoke about the development of a search interface for BIBFRAME data, drawing on information from a number of different libraries that are contributing data to the project. While this development has so far been aimed at library users, he has also been working with people at the Library of Congress, where he has been finding out about the needs of librarians in regards to the interface.

The last speaker was Michelle Futornick (Stanford University), who discussed BIBFRAME in Stanford’s implementation of FOLIO, which is intended to replace Stanford’s current ILS. Stanford uses the Sinopia editor to create BIBFRAME metadata, and they are looking at how Sinopia could feed this data directly into an ILS—something that would be possible with FOLIO, as it does not require MARC metadata.