Music Discovery Requirements

V.B Metadata Schemas: MARC

In North American library communities, MARC boasts a long history, with the result that most of our library discovery systems need to accommodate large bodies of MARC-encoded data. OCLC’s WorldCat database, which many of our libraries use and contribute to, is a common source of this data. Because of this large body of data, MARC bibliographic and authority formats, following the standards published by the Library of Congress, receive extended review and attention in this document.

MARC originated as a way to create catalog cards containing data devised according to a book-centric cataloging code. While music-specific fields have since received extensive--and intricate--development, cleanly teasing out important music-specific elements like medium of performance or work numbers often eludes our best efforts. Development continues at a rapid pace, with an eye towards enabling us to take advantage of the perceived benefits of Linked Data, not to mention facilitating the coming transition to BIBFRAME. Readers should keep in mind that as they are reading this document, additional changes will be in the works, if not in fact already implemented in some cases.

MARC legacy data poses additional challenges. As MARC standards change, few libraries have the resources to completely update all existing data, especially when new data points are added. Furthermore, there are some fields/subfields that have never achieved widespread implementation. These factors may present difficulties for discovery interface creators because many features will not work well unless data is regularly and uniformly present. This document identifies fields which have been irregularly or recently implemented, alerting discovery interface creators of the need to assess their data for the presence or absence of these fields.