Machine-Readable Accessions (MARA) Guidelines for Contribution to the National Union Catalogue

Library and Archives Canada’s transition to OCLC services

(October 2017) Now that the transition to a new catalogue for Canadian library holdings with the cooperative Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) is underway, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is no longer adding or updating records from most Canadian libraries in AMICUS.

AMICUS remains operational at this time, and LAC will continue to add its own records, as well as those of institutions specializing in materials for clients with print disabilities, until approximately the fall of 2018.

For further information, please see Questions and answers for National Union Catalogue libraries in light of LAC’s contract with OCLC.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction


AMICUS is an electronic bibliographic database, developed and maintained by Library and Archives Canada for libraries, researchers and the public. AMICUS is available on the Web, and provides a variety of different services, such as searching, information verification, interlibrary loan, reference, cataloguing and collection development. Support for the print disabled and other services are also available. Footnote1

1.2 The National Union Catalogue

The National Union Catalogue is a separate and distinct part of AMICUS, and contains bibliographic descriptions, locations and holdings information for continuing resources and monographs, in all subject areas, held in more than 1300 Canadian libraries. Included in the National Union Catalogue are computer files, maps, microforms, newspapers and works in special formats (e.g., Braille, large print, talking books, described videos, captioned videos) for persons who are print- or hearing-impaired.

Post-1980 bibliographic records reside in the AMICUS database and are accessible via the Web. Bibliographic information reported prior to 1980 is available in card catalogues at Library and Archives Canada. The card catalogues are maintained on a regular basis: bibliographic records are removed from the catalogues once they have been loaded into AMICUS.

The National Union Catalogue is key to resource sharing among libraries. Comprehensive and unlimited by language, discipline, or format, it provides bibliographic information about the holdings of Canadian libraries, thereby facilitating activities such as interlibrary loan, cooperative cataloguing, reference, and collection development. The value of the National Union Catalogue comes from the diversity and sheer volume of records it contains.

The currency and accuracy of the holdings for the items represented within the National Union Catalogue are also crucial to its value. It is therefore essential that libraries reporting their Machine-Readable Accessions (MARA) records to the National Union Catalogue do so in a regular and consistent fashion.

To find out more about the National Union Catalogue, and the libraries that contribute their records to it, please visit the National Union Catalogue Web site. Footnote2

1.3 Purpose of the Guidelines

This document provides direction for the preparation and submission of MARA records to the National Union Catalogue in AMICUS. The Guidelines must be used in conjunction with the MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data. Footnote3 Footnote4

2. Standards

2.1 Cataloguing standards

Records in the AMICUS database do not conform to one specific cataloguing standard. The database contains records from distribution sources such as the Library of Congress, Library and Archives Canada, CONSER, records created on-line by participating member libraries, including the print accessions received and input by the National Union Catalogue of Library and Archives Canada, and records contributed by libraries participating in the MARA program. These records exhibit a variety of cataloguing practices, but for the most part are consistent with the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR), 1st and 2nd editions, and Règles de catalogage anglo-américaines (RCAA), 1ère and 2ième édition. Footnote5 Footnote6 Records reported via MARA must conform to AACR2 conventions, though records catalogued prior to the implementation of AACR2 are exempt from this criterion.

Institutions may submit MARA records catalogued in either English or French, regardless of the language of the publication being catalogued.

Contributing libraries may have used various romanization tables in their cataloguing. Canadiana, the national bibliography, uses the ALA-LC romanization tables for records catalogued in English and the ALA-LC romanization tables or the ISO transliteration tables for records catalogued in French. MARA libraries may conform to this usage, but it is not a requirement. Footnote7 Footnote8

2.2 Communications format

MARC or MARC-like records submitted as MARA records must be convertible to the MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data. The content designators-codes and conventions that identify the actual data within the record and that support data manipulation-are defined in this Format. The Format also identifies the authorized content requirements for all MARC elements (e.g., tags, indicators, subfields).

The key to retaining the MARC structure while reducing required specific coding is the "fill" character. Presence of a fill character indicates that the MARC format requires a value that the reporting library has not supplied: the fill character replaces a code that represents explicit data. The use of the fill character is limited to tags, indicators, subfield codes, and fixed tags only as indicated in the MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data. The fill character is represented in this guide by the "at sign" (i.e., "@").

2.2.1 Mandatory/essential elements

Data required to support the distinction between bibliographic items have been defined as "mandatory" or "essential if applicable".

In submitting a MARA record, the reporting library must supply those data elements defined as "mandatory". Elements defined as "essential if applicable" must be present if they apply to the type of record being reported (e.g., monograph, continuing resource, sound recording) or if they are needed to fulfill bibliographic requirements (e.g., dates of publication for continuing resources).

If "mandatory" and "essential if applicable" elements are not supplied in a MARA record, or if a MARA record contains invalid content designation for these elements, then either the record will be rejected during loading, resulting in error logs that must be processed manually by the National Union Catalogue, or the record will not be defined adequately enough to allow the AMICUS matching programs to work properly during loading. When the loading programs cannot correctly identify a record, the result is either a merger with a record for a different bibliographic item (i.e., a mismatch), or the creation of a duplicate record in the database.

For the minimal amount of data required in a full MARA record see "Appendix A: Required data elements".

2.2.2 Character set

The common standard used in transmitting a MARC record is the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) character set, which includes upper case and lower case alphabetic characters. Bibliographic data elements in a MARA record should be reported in upper case and lower case. Subfield codes are written in lower case alphabetic characters or numerals. Values present in the leader are also in lower case.

The fill character is represented in ASCII by the "vertical bar" (i.e., "|") corresponding to hexadecimal "7C".

2.2.3 Organization of the record

A MARC record consists of four sections: leader, record directory, control fields, and variable tags.

The leader is of fixed length and contains coded information relating to the processing of the record.

Record directory
The record directory contains fixed-length entries for each tag appearing in the record. These entries, 12 characters each in length, define the tag and identify the length of the tag, and its starting position in the record. The record directory enables data elements in the record to be distinguished from each other, and to be machine manipulated.

Control fields
Control fields are three-digit tags that take the form 00X (i.e., tags 001-009; tag 000 is reserved for the leader). These fields contain control numbers (e.g., tag 001) or may contain coded information in a fixed-length field (e.g., tag 008), which contains information regarding the item being described.

Variable fields
Variable fields are identified by three-digit tags, and carry bibliographic statements associated with the item being catalogued (e.g., author, title). Two numeric indicators are associated with each variable field. They either address the processing requirements of, or give further information about, the data in the field. Subfield codes within each tag (e.g., $a, $b) further identify the data elements, such that they may be distinguished and machine manipulated.

2.2.4 Further information on MARC

The Library of Congress' Web-based tutorial Understanding MARC Bibliographic: Machine-Readable Cataloging is an excellent source of information on the nature and structure of the MARC format. Footnote9

2.3 Media specifications

2.3.1 File transfer

To report their records via electronic file transfer, a library must have File Transfer Protocol, Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (FTP/TCPIP).

The following provides the set-up information for the MARA file transfer service.

The following sign-on parameters must be kept in lower case:

  1. Logon to the Internet using the address pointer "MARA-ftp" (e.g., ftp MARA-ftp);
  2. Enter the MARA user name assigned by Library and Archives Canada (e.g., oonl_ft);
  3. Enter the Password assigned by Library and Archives Canada;
  4. Send file.

File naming conventions
Any combination of alphabetic or numeric characters, underscore, or period is valid. There are no upper case or lower case restrictions.

Short unique file names of 15 characters or fewer are preferred.

Batch numbering is recommended in order to distinguish one file from another (e.g., "MARA-batch1", "MARA-batch2", etc.). Other examples of meaningful and valid file names could be:

  • Mybatch_001
  • Mon_970901_001
  • Tue_Oct.12.002

Test Files
Test files require special attention and are generally the first files sent by a library when they join the MARA program. Test files must also be sent when a library changes their library automation system.

An underscore character (i.e., "_") in the first character position of a filename automatically identifies it as a test file. For example:

  • _Mybatch_001
  • _Mon_970901_001

Retrospective Files
Retrospective files ("retro files") are files that contain the full content of a given library's database. Retrospective files are typically received in two situations: a) when a library that has never before reported to the National Union Catalogue sends the entire contents of its database to the National Union Catalogue for the first time; or b) when a library that has previously sent records to the National Union Catalogue wishes to "refresh" its holdings in AMICUS by first stripping its existing holdings out of AMICUS, and then reloading its entire database into AMICUS.

Underscore characters (i.e., "_") in the first two character positions of a filename automatically identify the file as a retro file. For example:

  • __Mybatch_001
  • __Mon_970901_001

File Size Restrictions
The preferred file size is between 40,000 and 60,000 records, as the transfer of very large files requires monitoring by Library and Archives Canada's Information Technology Services branch.

File Transfer Mode
Files must be sent using the BINARY transfer mode to preserve the MARC format. Libraries that wish to send very larges files (e.g., a retrospective file or a large backlog) may do so only by special arrangement with the National Union Catalogue.

2.3.2 Other media

Libraries that wish to report via another medium (i.e., not by FTP), must first consult with the National Union Catalogue to determine whether their file will be readable once received.

3. Reporting to the National Union Catalogue

A library that wishes to report their machine-readable accessions to the National Union Catalogue may include records for items in all formats and subject areas. Records received in MARC format are converted to the MARC 21-based record format of AMICUS. AMICUS is based on the principle of one master record per unique manifestation of a bibliographic item, to which all locations are added. Records are loaded off-line using a set of generalized programs designed to prevent duplicate records from being added to the database, and to preserve differences between bibliographic items.

To contribute MARA records to the National Union Catalogue, a library must convert its records from the local format to MARC format, if the local format is other than MARC. Local record structure may need revision to make required data elements distinct for identification and conversion, and the system itself may need enhancements to support the generation of regular MARA reports.

3.1 Preparing the records for reporting

Before reporting records to the National Union Catalogue, the reporting library must ensure that all "mandatory" and "essential if applicable" data requirements have been met, and that all records to be sent are in the appropriate format for reporting (i.e., in MARC 21 communications format). The presence of properly coded "mandatory" and "essential if applicable" data elements in MARA records ensures that the AMICUS loading and matching programs function as effectively as possible when MARA records are being added to the AMICUS database.

Data required by the MARC format but not held in the local record may present a problem. Mandatory bibliographic tags that are not present in the local record may sometimes be reported in skeletal form (e.g., supplying "[s.l.]" and "[s.n.]" for place and publisher respectively to furnish an imprint). In some cases, missing data and/or content designation can be generated by Library and Archives Canada during the conversion process. In other cases, the local format may have to be enhanced in order to support the required elements.

Control numbers should be analyzed carefully, since they are primary access points for the record. The MARC format requires that control numbers have standardized formats. For example, the International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) must be written as two groups of four digits each, separated by a hyphen (e.g., "1234-5678"). The local system may record the data in a different manner (e.g., without a hyphen). If this is not converted to proper notation the tag will not be loaded and the number will be lost as an access point.

All characters should be representable in the extended ASCII character set required for reporting, and diacritics, punctuation, and other marks should be separately distinguishable for conversion. Where appropriate, diacritics must precede the character to which they belong.

3.2 Sending a test file

Once a library is confident that their records satisfy the criteria for MARA reporting, they can prepare a test file to send to the National Union Catalogue of Library and Archives Canada for analysis and conversion.

Test files should contain samples of a broad mixture of records. A continuing resources test file should contain continuing resources with both open and closed dates, government document continuing resources, and continuing resources in varying formats (e.g., microform, computer files). Monograph test files should contain records of multi-volume sets, monographs in series, and monographs in varying physical formats (e.g., visual materials, music, and sound recordings).

Test files should contain records reflecting the cataloguing standards and practices adopted and developed by the reporting library over time (e.g., AACR1, AACR2). This is particularly important when a library plans to report its retrospective files. All test files sent to Library and Archives Canada must adhere to the file naming conventions established for test files (cf. section 2.3.1, above). Test files require special processing, and can only be identified by Library and Archives Canada's computer systems when test file names adhere to the established conventions.

The reporting library will not receive a written analysis of their test file. Provided consultation is not necessary, the reporting library will not be contacted again until its conversion is in "production" (i.e., is operational) and Library and Archives Canada is ready to receive production files.

3.3 Conversion by Library and Archives Canada

All records sent to the National Union Catalogue are run through two distinct conversion processes before they are loaded into AMICUS: a Generic conversion, and a library-specific conversion.

Generic conversion
The Generic conversion, through which all records must be processed, is designed to change or eliminate data on the incoming records that might cause problems when the records are loaded into AMICUS (e.g., data that does not conform to the MARC 21 standard). The Generic conversion is also designed to add certain mandatory data elements to MARA records when such data is not already present on the incoming record (e.g., tag 008).

Library-specific conversion
Given the broad range of library automation systems, and local cataloguing practices, records sent to Library and Archives Canada for inclusion in the National Union Catalogue are also run through a library-specific conversion. When a prospective National Union Catalogue reporter has sent a test file of records to Library and Archives Canada, the records are analyzed, and a conversion is written based on the particular 'structure' of the prospective reporter's records. Library-specific conversions are also revised when an existing National Union Catalogue reporter modifies or changes its library automation system.

The purpose of the library-specific conversion is twofold. First, it is designed to change or eliminate any data on the incoming records, not already corrected by the Generic conversion, which might cause problems when the library's records are loaded into AMICUS. Second, when a library is not able to export their locations and holdings information from the local system in an 850 tag, the 850 tag must be created during the library-specific conversion process. This is usually done by taking data from other tags in the incoming records, and 'flipping' this data into the appropriate area of an 850 tag in the converted record (e.g., taking holdings information from a library's 9XX tag, and flipping it into the 850$c of the converted record).

It must be noted that the 850 tag is used locally by Library and Archives Canada to contain locations and holdings information in AMICUS records, but is not an authorized MARC 21 tag. For more information on the use of the 850 tag in National Union Catalogue records, please see sections 4.9, A.11, and A.12 on "Locations and holdings statements", and "Appendix B: Notes on 850 subfield codes".

Once a library's records have been successfully processed through both conversion processes, they are ready for loading into AMICUS.

4. Mandatory and essential data elements

Below are brief descriptions of some of the "mandatory" and "essential if applicable" bibliographic data elements required for MARA reporting. For the full extent of required data elements for MARA reporting, see "Appendix A: Required data elements".

4.1 Leader (000)

The leader is a 24 character fixed field (i.e., character positions 00-23) at the beginning of each MARC record. It provides essential information on the processing requirements for each MARC record. Character positions 06 and 07 (i.e., 000/06 and 000/07) are crucial to the AMICUS matching and loading programs, and must be coded correctly.

4.2 Control fields (001-00X)

Control numbers, contained within control fields, are central to the AMICUS record matching programs and, when properly formatted and coded, help to prevent the adding of duplicate records in AMICUS. Accuracy in reporting and formatting these numbers is crucial. Formatting instructions for control numbers can be found in the MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data.

4.2.1 Bibliographic record control number (001)

The bibliographic record control number is a unique and consistent character string used to identify the record within a reporting library's system and is the basis for matching MARA contributed records in the AMICUS database.

Reporting libraries must provide a bibliographic record control number in tag 001 for each record submitted. This number becomes a record's MARA control number. All transactions for this record (i.e., new, corrected or revised, or deleted) must report the same control number in tag 001.

4.2.2 Fixed-length data elements (008)

Data placed in the defined character positions of this tag consist of characters that give either coded bibliographic information about the work being catalogued or instruction to aid machine processing and manipulation of the record. Data elements will vary from record to record depending on the type of material being treated.

c.p. 7-10: Date 1
The data provided in this area is essential for matching records in the AMICUS database. If the library's system does not allow for this data in the fixed fields area, when the records are exported the data can be copied from the "imprint" area (i.e., tag 260, subfield $c for monograph records) or from the "Dates of publication and/or sequential designation" area (i.e., tag 362, subfield $a for continuing resource records).

c.p. 15-17: Place of publication, production, or execution
This three-character code provides important data for matching records in the AMICUS database. If possible, the minimum code "xxc" is essential for Canadian imprints. The full list of country codes is found in the MARC 21 MARC Code List for Countries. Footnote10

c.p. 23; c.p. 29: Form of item
Separate records must be provided for each different form of the same bibliographic item (e.g., microform, large print, Braille). For example, the printed version of a work and its microfiche edition must be reported as separate records, with the "form of item" coded appropriately. This ensures that distinct forms of the same bibliographic item are correctly added to AMICUS. (Note: The 008/23 is "Form of item" for Books, Continuing resource, Music, and Mixed Materials. The 008/29 is "Form of item" for Maps and Visual Materials. The 008 for "Computer Files" does not have a character position reserved for "Form of item".)

4.3 Cataloguing source (040)

Subfield $a contains the code of the "original cataloging agency", while subfield $c contains the code of the "transcribing agency". One or both of the tags must include the code of the reporting library. The subfield $b contains the "language of cataloguing". If this tag is not present in the records of the reporting library, then the tag can be system supplied during the conversion process at Library and Archives Canada.

4.4 Main entry fields (1xx)

Each record must have a coded main entry, if the main entry is other than the title. Only one main entry per record is valid.

4.5 Title statement (245)

Each record must have a title statement. Without a title statement the record cannot be loaded into AMICUS.

4.6 Publication, distribution, etc. [Imprint] (260)

An imprint, even if "[S.l.: s.n.]", is a mandatory data requirement. Both indicators are undefined and should be left blank. The $a (place of publication) is mandatory for continuing resources; $b (publisher) and $c (date of publication) are mandatory for monographs.

4.7 Physical description (300)

The physical description, or "collation", is particularly important for monographs, microfilm, computer disks, and sound recordings, among others. The tag may be coded minimally when necessary (e.g., if the pagination or the number of volumes are not available).

4.8 Dates of publication and/or volume designation (362)

This tag is mandatory for continuing resources. It contains the extent of volumes and /or the beginning date and/or the ending date(s) of publication of a continuing resource item. Since this tag records the coverage of the item, it is often the only distinguishing difference between similar continuing resource publications. This tag should NOT reflect the holdings of the reporting library.  

4.9 Locations and holdings statements (850)

4.9.1 Adding the 850 to MARA records

All MARA records must contain an 850 tag before they can be loaded into AMICUS. Records lacking an 850 tag are rejected prior to loading. Some libraries are able to add an 850 tag to the records they send to Library and Archives Canada. This is usually done when records are being exported from the local system into a file to be sent to Library and Archives Canada. Libraries that are not able to export their records from the local system with an 850 tag in place will have the 850 tags for their records created during the conversion process at Library and Archives Canada (cf. section 3.3, "Conversion by Library and Archives Canada").

Records sent with 850's
Tag 850 is a repeatable tag. Library systems can report the holdings of several branch libraries on one record by repeating tag 850 for each branch that has its own Canadian library symbol. Also, regional centres and networks may report the holdings of several institutions on one record by repeating tag 850. While many 850 tags may be attached to an individual record, each 850 tag must represent a unique library symbol (i.e., must have a unique library symbol in subfield $a). An individual record may not contain multiple 850 tags with the same library symbol in subfield $a.

Records sent without 850's
Libraries that cannot export 850 tags from their local system may also report the holdings for several branch libraries, or for other institutions, on the same record. Such libraries simply need to ensure that the necessary locations and holdings information is present within the record sent to Library and Archives Canada (e.g., in a 9XX tag). During the conversion process, this information will be 'flipped' into corresponding 850 tags, thus allowing the records to be loaded into AMICUS.

4.9.2 Inter-Library Loan

If several libraries use one designated institution as an Inter-Library Loan (ILL) centre, the designated institution's library symbol should be clearly identifiable in the records sent to Library and Archives Canada to ensure the proper routing of ILL and photocopy requests.

To avoid receiving loan requests for materials reported to the National Union Catalogue, libraries that do not participate in ILL must ensure that the records they send to National Union Catalogue clearly reflect their ILL status.

4.9.3 Multiple copies

Multiple copies of a work held at one institution should not be reported; only one copy should be reported (e.g., the monograph available for loan; the continuing resource that is most complete). Copy numbers should not be included.

4.9.4 Further information on tag 850

For the minimal amount of data required in tag 850, please see "Appendix A: Required data elements". For further information on the subfield codes used in tag 850, please see "Appendix B: Notes on 850 subfield codes".

5. Reporting procedures

A library can report its entire file, including monographs, continuing resources, audiovisual materials, maps, etc. The type and scope of the bibliographic records that are reported by a library are mutually agreed on by the reporting library and the National Union Catalogue. This is an open agreement that can be modified at any time (e.g., a library may initially report only current monographs, and subsequently decide to report retrospective monographs and/or continuing resources). To modify a reporting arrangement, the reporting library must notify Library and Archives Canada.

5.1 Record selection

The selection of records for ongoing reporting should be based on:

  • Records added or new to the file since the last report was generated;
  • Records and/or holdings statements corrected or revised since the last report was generated;
  • Records deleted from the file since the last report was generated.

NOTE: Libraries are asked to omit, if possible, records created for the sole purpose of managing circulation and interlibrary loans. If it is not possible to omit these records before sending the MARC file, libraries should alert the National Union Catalogue to the presence of these records in their file.

Complete records must be submitted, with the appropriate record status indicated. Record status appears in the leader, character position 5. This element is mandatory.

5.1.1 New records

New records must be coded "n" in the leader, character position 5. During ongoing reporting, all records not previously sent should be coded as new records.

5.1.2 Changed records

Changed records may be coded either "c" or "n" in the leader, character position 5. Changes to records already sent are defined as the addition and deletion of location information and changes in holdings. A record matching one previously loaded into AMICUS will match on its MARA control number (i.e., MARC tag 001), and changes will be made to the tag 850 (holdings statements). Bibliographic changes will not be transferred to the AMICUS record.

5.1.3 Delete records and withdrawals

If a bibliographic item is withdrawn from the collection of the reporting institution, a delete record should be sent.

For all deleted records, leader, character position 5, must be set to "d". Delete records generated for records defined as retrospective should not be sent until the retrospective file has been loaded.

If a library is unable to send deletes via MARA, it can use the Update Locations on AMICUS Web service to delete the appropriate holding in AMICUS. For more information on the Update Locations feature of AMICUS, please contact the National Union Catalogue.

5.2 Procedures for ongoing reporting

5.2.1 Schedule

When testing is completed, the MARA participant is ready to send reports on an ongoing basis. A reporting schedule will be determined in consultation with the National Union Catalogue. It is suggested that large libraries send reports at least quarterly. Smaller libraries may prefer annual reporting. The National Union Catalogue monitors MARA reporting, and must be notified when a library wishes to change its agreed-upon reporting schedule.

5.2.2 Changes to library automation system

If a contributing MARA library upgrades or changes its library automation system, then the library must notify the National Union Catalogue, and submit a new test file for verification. No records from said library will be loaded during the verification of their test file. If necessary, the library's conversion will be modified to accommodate the MARC record export format of their new library automation system. Only when such modifications are completed, and tested, will the conversion and loading of the reporting library's records resume.

6. Contact information

For more information, please contact:

National Union Catalogue
Database Networks
Library and Archives Canada
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0N4


Web address

A. Required data elements

The full extent of required data elements for MARA reporting is listed below. All tags, indicator values, and subfield codes must conform to MARC 21 standards.

Records containing tags, indicator values, and/or subfield codes that do not conform to MARC 21 standards will typically be rejected during the conversion process, or while being loaded into AMICUS. When such records are not rejected, they create inaccurate data, duplicate headings, and/or duplicate records within AMICUS.

A.1 Leader and directory (000 and directory) 

Table 1 – A.1 Leader and directory (000 and directory)

Tag Requirement Details
000 Mandatory 000 - Leader

000/05 (Record status)

000/06 (Type of record)

000/07 (Bibliographic level)

000/18 (Descriptive cataloguing form)
Directory Mandatory Record directory

A.2 Control fields (001-00X)

Table 2 – A.2 Control fields (001-00X)

Tag Requirement Details
001 Mandatory 001 - Bibliographic Record Control Number
007 Essential 007 - Physical Description Fixed Field
008 Mandatory 008 - Fixed-length Data Elements (All)

008/7-10 (Date 1)
A specific date must be supplied; fill characters should not be used

008/15-17 (Place of publication, production or execution)
For Canadian imprints, the minimum code "xxc" is essential

008/23 or 008/29 (Form of item) Footnote11
A specific code must be supplied; a fill character should not be used

008/39 (Cataloguing source) If the source is not known, supply code "d"

A.3 Number and code fields (01X-04X)

Table 3 – A.3 Number and code fields (01X-04X)

Tag Requirement Details
010 Essential 010 - Library of Congress Control Number
016 Essential 016 - National Library of Canada Record Control Number
020 Essential 020 - International Standard Book Number
022 Essential 022 - International Standard Serial Number
034 Essential 034 - Coded Cartographic Mathematical Data
040 Mandatory 040 - Cataloguing Source
Mandatory $a - Original cataloguing agency
Mandatory $b - Code for language of cataloguing
Essential $c - Transcribing agency
041 Essential 041 - Language Code
Essential only for multilingual works

A.4 Main entry fields (1XX)

Table 4 – A.4 Main entry fields (1XX)

Tag Requirement Details
100 Essential 100 - Main Entry Heading - Personal Name
110 Essential 110 - Main Entry Heading - Corporate Name
111 Essential 111 - Main Entry Heading - Conference or Meeting Name
130 Essential 130 - Main Entry Heading - Uniform Title

A.5 Title and title-related fields (20X-24X)

Table 5 – A.5 Title and title-related fields (20X-24X)

Tag Requirement Details
245 Mandatory 245 - Title Statement
Mandatory $a - Title
Essential $b - Remainder of title
Essential $h - General material designation
246 Essential 246 - Variant Forms of Title

A.6 Edition, imprint, etc. fields (250-270)

Table 6 – A.6 Edition, imprint, etc. fields (250-270)

Tag Requirement Details
250 Essential 250 - Edition Statement
255 Essential 255 - Cartographic Mathematical Data
260 Mandatory 260 - Publication, Distribution, etc. (Imprint)

A.7 Physical description, etc. fields (3XX)

Table 7 – A.7 Physical description, etc. fields (3XX)

Tag Requirement Details
300 Mandatory 300 - Physical Description
362 Essential 362 - Dates of Publication and/or Volume Designation
Do not use this tag to record local holdings

A.8 Note fields (50X-58X)

Table 8 – A.8 Note fields (50X-58X)

Tag Requirement Details
502 Essential 502 - Dissertation Note
515 Essential 515 - Numbering Peculiarities Note
533 Essential 533 - Reproduction Note
534 Essential 534 - Original Version Note
580 Essential 580 - Linking Entry Complexity Note

A.9 Added entry fields (70X-75X)

Table 9 – A.9 Added entry fields (70X-75X)

Tag Requirement Details
700 Essential 700 - Added Entry - Personal Name
710 Essential 710 - Added Entry - Corporate Name
711 Essential 711 - Added Entry - Conference or Meeting Name
730 Essential 730 - Added Entry - Uniform Title Heading
740 Essential 740 - Added Entry - Uncontrolled, Related or Analytical Title
752 Optional/Mandatory 752 - Added Entry - Hierarchical Place Name
Mandatory for newspapers only

A.10 Linking entry fields (76X-78X)

Table 10 – A.10 Linking entry fields (76X-78X)

Tag Requirement Details
780 Essential 780 - Preceding Entry
Essential if applicable for continuing resources
785 Essential 785 - Succeeding Entry
Essential if applicable for continuing resources

A.11 Locations and holdings statements (850 - Monographs)

For further information on the subfield codes used in tag 850, please see "Appendix B: Notes on 850 subfield codes".

Table 11 – A.11 Locations and holdings statements (850 - Monographs)

Tag Requirement Details
850 Mandatory 850 - Locations and holdings statement
Mandatory First indicator
Essential 0 - Not a multi-volume work
Essential 1 - A multi-volume work where all volumes are held or intended to be held
Essential 2 - Part of a multi-volume work
Mandatory Second indicator Footnote12
Essential 0 - Not for interlibrary loan
Essential 1 - For interlibrary loan
Mandatory $a - Library symbol
Essential $b - Volumes held
Optional $m - Local call number
Optional $p - Local system control number

A.12 Locations and holdings statements (850 - Continuing resources)

For further information on the subfield codes used in tag 850, please see "Appendix B: Notes on 850 subfield codes".

Table 12 – A.12 Locations and holdings statements (850 - Continuing resources)

Tag Requirement Details
850 Mandatory 850 - Locations and holdings statement
Mandatory First indicator
Essential 0 - Non-formatted statement
Essential 1 - Semi-formatted statement
Mandatory Second indicator
Essential 0 - Currently received
Essential 1 - Not currently received
Essential 2 - Unknown
Mandatory $a - Library symbol
Essential Essential $b - Volumes/issues held (R)
Essential $c - Non-formatted holdings
Essential $d - Inclusive dates (R)
Essential $e - Retention statement
Optional $g - Volumes/issues lacking (R)
Optional $h - Dates lacking (R)
Optional $k - Indexes
Optional $m - Local call number
Optional $n - Copy number
Optional $p - Local system control number
Optional $q - Remarks
Optional $x - Branch
Optional $y - Branch sublocation

B. Notes on 850 subfield codes

B.1 Explanations of subfield codes

The following explanations are provided to illustrate the use of subfield codes within the 850 tag. They do not reflect the practice of any particular institution with regard to abbreviations, punctuation, and spacing.

Repeatable subfields are designated "(R)".

$a: Library symbol
The $a contains a library symbol, as specified in Symbols of Canadian Libraries. Footnote13 The prefix "Ca" should not be used. This subfield identifies the holding institution to which ILL requests would be directed. For example:

  • $aOONL

$b: Volumes/issues held (R)
This subfield contains the numerical designations of the volumes and issues held and may also include abbreviations of prefixes to these numbers. AACR2 abbreviations are recommended. Prefixes should be those used in the publication and should not be translated. Numbers must be Arabic and cardinal; Roman numerals and others must be translated. Standard punctuation symbols should be used. For example:

  • $b1-12, 14-
  • $b1-10 no. 11; new ser. 1-

$c: Non-formatted holdings statement
This subfield may include any holdings information except the library symbol. It is used for recording holdings statements if subfield $b (i.e., volumes/issues held) and/or $d (i.e., inclusive dates) cannot be provided. Libraries may use this subfield for existing holdings, but new records should be created using subfields $b and/or $d, if possible. For example:

  • $ctome23 - à date
  • $cvol. 12, 1972+

$d: Inclusive dates (R)
Dates may be used to clarify holdings which are entered in subfield $b, or used in lieu of subfield $b when there is no numbering designation. Dates are given in terms of the Christian era. AACR2 abbreviations are recommended.

  • $d1876-1902, 1950-
  • $dfall/winter 1971-

$e: Retention statement
Standard abbreviations are given in section "B.3.1: Recommended abbreviations for retention statements". For example:

  • $ecy

$g: Volumes/issues lacking (R)
While holdings statements indicate what is held rather than what is missing, a clearer statement may sometimes be made by also identifying missing items. For example:

  • $b1-10$gv. 5 no. 6

$h: Dates lacking (R)
The instructions in subfield $g also apply to this subfield.

  • $d1950-1963$hApr. 1957

$k: Indexes
This subfield contains brief information identifying cumulative indexes that are not given a separate bibliographic record. For example:

  • $kindexes: 1-10, 11-20, 21-30

$m: Local call number or shelving notation
For example:

  • $mZ6751 J22
  • $mPN1009A1 P52 1975

$n: Copy number
Do not use.

$p: Local system control number
This subfield may be supplied when the local system control number differs from the record control number given in tag 001. For example:

  • [001] (CaNSHPL)7543219
  • [850] $aNSAR$p(CaNSAR)8100569

$q: Remarks
This subfield contains brief free text remarks. It should not be used for strictly local information such as purchase or binding information.

$x: Branch
This subfield can be used by a library to specify the location of the reported copy, when this location is not an interlibrary loan center. For example:

  • $xMain

$y: Branch sublocation
Used only in conjunction with subfield $x. For example:

  • $xScott$yRef

B.2 Examples of subfield coding

The statements below are examples of the subfield coding used in tag 850:

  • $aBVAU$b1- ;$kindexes: 1-10$p(CaBVAU)5694386
  • $aOLU$d1978-$mB131 B552$xMain
  • $aOWTU$b[1], [3-4], [5-8];$d1901-09$mFC2421 A22$xArts$yRef.
  • $aQMU$d1975-79$mPN2595A1 B7$xMcKen$yRef.
  • $aACU$d1976-$hMay1979$mPN2595 L74$p(CaACU)0756173$xF.A.$yReference
  • $aMWU$b1-7, 12-19;$d1951-57, 1962-1970$xEducation
  • $aNBFU$e5 cy$mHD3973 C22 1979$xLaw$yRef.

B.3 Abbreviations and punctuation

The following are recommendations for the use of abbreviations in the retention statement (i.e., "$e") and for punctuation within holdings statements.

B.3.1 Recommended abbreviations for retention statements

Current year(s):
Current month(s):
Current week(s):
Current issue(s):

B.3.2 Punctuation symbols Footnote14

Hyphen "-"
Indicates an unbroken range of holdings from the volume/issue or date specified to the present if the continuing resource is currently being acquired. For example:

  • v. 18-
  • 1957-

Indicates an unbroken range of holdings between the volumes/issues or dates specified if the continuing resource is dead or is not being currently acquired. For example:

  • v. 18-25
  • 1957-64

Comma ","
Indicates a gap in holdings. For example:

  • v. 18-25, 31-42
  • 1957-64, 1970-81

Semi-colon ";"
Indicates a non-gap break (e.g., to show discontinuity in the publisher's enumeration/chronology). For example:

  • v. 1-3; 5-
  • 1919-38; 1946-79

Square brackets "[ ]"
Indicate that the volumes or years so enclosed are not complete For example:

  • v. 18-[25]-42
  • 1957-[64]-81

Parentheses "( )"
Indicate a significant alternate chronology. For example:

  • v. 20-36 (no. 112-304)

Question mark "?"
Indicates uncertainty. For example:

  • v. 18-42?
  • 1957-81?

Forward slash "/"
Connects notations that form a single published physical unit (i.e., a date which covers a single non-calendar year or a combined numbering). For example:

  • v. 28/29
  • 1957/68
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