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MARC 21 Community Information
October 2006

The five MARC 21 communication formats, MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data, MARC 21 Format for Authority Data, MARC 21 Format for Holdings Data, MARC 21 Format for Classification Data, and MARC 21 Format for Community Information, are widely used standards for the representation and exchange of bibliographic, authority, holdings, classification, and community information in machine-readable form.

A MARC record is composed of three elements: the record structure, the content designation, and the data content of the record. The record structure is an implementation of the international standard Format for Information Exchange (ISO 2709) and its American counterpart, Bibliographic Information Interchange (ANSI/NISO Z39.2). The content designation--the codes and conventions established explicitly to identify and further characterize the data elements within a record and to support the manipulation of that data--is defined by each of the MARC formats. The content of the data elements that comprise a MARC record is usually defined by standards outside the formats. Examples are the International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD), Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), or other cataloging rules, subject thesauri, and classification schedules used by the organization that creates a record. The content of certain coded data elements is defined in the MARC formats (e.g., the Leader, field 007, field 008).

The MARC 21 Format for Community Data: Including Guidelines for Content Designation, defines the codes and conventions (tags, indicators, subfield codes, and coded values that identify the data elements in MARC community information records. This document is intended for the use of personnel involved in the creation and maintenance of community information records, as well as those involved in the design and maintenance of systems for communication and processing of community information records. This documentation is also available online, including a concise version and a simple field list at:


The MARC 21 Format for Community Information is designed to be a carrier for community information. Community information records describe non-bibliographic resources that fulfill the information needs of a community.

Kinds of Community Information Records

MARC community information records are distinguished from all other types of MARC records by the presence of code q (Community information) in Leader/06, Type of record. The MARC 21 Format for Community Information further identifies five kinds of community information records in Leader/07, Kind of data:


Description of Record Parts

A MARC community information record consists of three main components: the Leader, the Directory, and the Variable Fields. The following information summarizes the structure of a MARC record. More detail is provided in MARC 21 Specifications for Record Structure, Character Sets, and Exchange Media.

The variable data fields are grouped into blocks according to the first character of the tag, which with some exceptions identifies the function of the data within the record. The type of information in the field is identified by the remainder of the tag.

0XX Control information, numbers, and codes
1XX Primary name
2XX Titles, addresses
3XX Physical description, etc.
4XX Series information
5XX Notes
6XX Subject access fields
7XX Added entries other than subject
8XX Locations, Alternate Graphics
9XX Reserved for local implementation

Within the 1XX, 4XX, 6XX, and 7XX blocks, certain parallels of content designation are usually preserved. The following meanings, with some exceptions, are given to the final two characters of the tag of fields:

X00 Personal names X40 Titles (of programs, events, etc. or series)
X10 Corporate names X50 Topical terms
X11 Meeting names X51 Geographic names
X30 Publication titles          

Within variable data fields, the following two kinds of content designation are used:

Multiscript Records

A MARC community information record may contain data in multiple scripts. One script may be considered the primary script of the data content of the record, even though other scripts are also used for data content. (Note: ASCII is used for the structure elements of the record, with most coded data also specified within the ASCII range of characters.) General models for multiscript data are described in Appendix C, along with several full record examples.

Field and Subfield Repeatability

Theoretically, all fields and subfields may be repeated. The nature of the data, however, often precludes repetition. For example, a community information record may contain only one 1XX primary name field; a field 110 (Primary Name−Corporate) may contain only one subfield $a (Corporate name or jurisdiction name as entry element) but may contain more than one subfield $b (Subordinate unit). The repeatability/nonrepeatability of each field and subfield is specified in the format.

Fill Character and Related Values

A fill character (ASCII 7C hex), represented in this document as a vertical bar (∣), may be used in community information records in fields 007, and 008. A fill character may not be used in the Leader or in tags, indicator positions, or subfield codes. The presence of a fill character in a community information record indicates that the format specifies a code to be used but the creator of the record has decided not to attempt to supply a code.

Code u (Unknown), when it is defined, indicates that the creator of the record attempted to supply a code but was unable to determine what the appropriate code should be.

Code n (Not applicable) is defined in many coded positions to indicate that the characteristic defined by the position is not applicable to the community information entity involved.

Display Constants

A display constant is a term, phrase, spacing, or punctuation convention that may be system generated under prescribed circumstances in order to make a visual presentation of data in a record more meaningful to a user. In the community information format, certain field tags (e.g., field 505), indicators (e.g., field 520 Indicator 1, Display constant controller), and subfield codes (e.g., the subject subdivision subfields $x, $y, and $z in a subject added entry), may be used to generate specific display constants. The use of display constants is determined by each organization or system. Examples of display constants are provided under Input Conventions in the field descriptions.

Record Content Responsibility

The MARC 21 Format for Community Information serves as a vehicle for community information of all types from any organization. In general, the responsibility for the data content, content designation, and transcription of community information within a record may be determined by examination of the field indicated in the responsible parties section below. The data content of certain data elements, however, is restricted when the element is an agency-assigned or a controlled-list data element.

Responsible Parties

In unmodified records, the organization identified as the originating agency in subfield $a (Originating agency) of field 040 (Record Source) is responsible for the data content of the record. The organization identified as the transcribing agency in subfield $c (Transcribing agency) of field 040 is responsible for the content designation and transcription of the data.

In modified records, organizations identified in subfields $a and $d (Modifying agency) of field 040 are collectively responsible for the data content of the record. Organizations identified as transcribing or modifying agencies in subfields $c and $d of field 040 are collectively responsible for the content designation and transcription of the data.

Agency-assigned Data Elements

An agency-assigned data element is one that is exclusively assigned by a particular agency and is the responsibility of that agency, e.g., field 010 (Library of Congress Control Number). However, when the content designation and transcription of the agency-assigned data is performed by another organization, the responsibility for these functions is determined by the Responsible Parties Rule.

Controlled-list Data Elements

Certain data elements contain data from controlled lists maintained by designated agencies, e.g., the MARC Code List for Geographic Areas in field 043 (Geographic Area Code). These elements are indicated at the field or subfield level in MARC 21 and only values from the designated lists may be used. If a change or addition is desirable for a list, the maintenance agency for the list should be consulted.


Main Parts

The MARC 21 Format for Community Information consists of a Summary Statement of Content Designators followed by a detailed presentation of each content designator. Following the descriptions of the Leader and the Directory, the detailed presentations for each variable field are arranged in numerical field tag order. Note that the X-- General Information sections described below precede the 1XX fields.

Appendixes to this document provide information about several control subfields (Appendix A), record examples (Appendix B), multiscript record examples (Appendix C), an alphabetical listing of ambiguous headings with suggested tagging (Appendix D), a multilingual list of initial definite and indefinite articles (Appendix E), lists of changes to the format since the last edition or update (Appendix F), a list of organization code sources (Appendix G).

General Information Sections

To reduce repetition, a X-- General Information section is provided for three types of headings (X00 Personal Names; X10 Corporate Names; X11 Meeting Names). These general information sections provide instructions for the content designators that are common to each of the three types of headings whether it is used in a 1XX primary name field, a 6XX subject access field, or a 7XX added entry field. The field description for each type of heading (i.e., 100, 600, 700, etc.) refers back to the X-- general information section for that type of heading.

In addition, the format includes numerous general information sections to summarize blocks of fields. For instance, these include 00X (Control Fields), 008 (Fixed-Length Data Elements), 1XX (Primary Names), 2XX (Titles, Addresses), etc.

Components of the Detailed Descriptions

A detailed description may consist of six parts: content designator listing; character position or field definition and scope; guidelines for applying content designators, with examples; input conventions; and content designator history.

The content designator listing area presents

For the Leader and the variable control fields, the list gives the name of the character position and any defined coded value. For the variable data fields, the list gives the name of the indicator positions and any defined coded values and the name of the subfield codes and any defined coded values. For all variable fields, the repeatability/nonrepeatability code at the field level specifies whether the field may be repeated in a record. For variable data fields, the subfield repeatability code specifies whether the subfield code may be repeated within a field.

The character position or field definition and scope area describes the contents of the character position or field, the appropriateness of its use in specific kinds of community information records, and gives other information, such as field repeatability in particular circumstances, the use of required lists or conventions in formulating the data, etc.

The guidelines for applying content designatorsarea describes the content and scope of each coded value, indicator, or subfield code and gives other information, such as appropriateness for use and repeatability in certain circumstances. Examples showing the use of the content designator are provided immediately following the description. The examples illustrate the application of specific MARC content designators. Neither field terminators nor record terminators are shown in the examples provided in the MARC 21 Format for Community Information.

The input conventions area provides guidance to ensure consistency in the application of the content designators, and for such things as punctuation, spacing, and the use of display constants. The input conventions clarify MARC punctuation practices, especially with respect to final punctuation. In the discussion of punctuation practices, mark of punctuation is a period (.), a question mark (?), an exclamation mark (!), or a hyphen (-).

The content designator history area provides a record of significant content designator changes. The types of changes that are included are:

In the MARC formats, a distinction is made between obsolete and deleted content designators. An obsolete content designator is one that may have been used in MARC records and that may continue to appear in records created prior to the date it was made obsolete. Obsolete content designators are not used in new records. An obsolete content designator is recorded in the Content Designator History area. Content designation instructions are provided for retrospective conversion of records having data elements that would have been identified by the obsolete content designator. A deleted content designator is not recorded in the history area and will no longer appear anywhere in the MARC documentation. A content designator that had been reserved in MARC but has not been defined, or one that had been defined but is known with near certainty not to have been used, may be deleted from the format. A deleted content designator is available for redefinition in a format.

Typographical Conventions

Throughout this document, the following typographical conventions are used:

Link disclaimer


The The MARC 21 Format for Community Data should be used with the following standards and related documentation. When a standard is applicable to data in specific fields of the format, the fields are given in brackets following the citation.

National and International Standards:

ISO publications may be obtained from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and their agents; and ANSI/NISO Z39 publications may be obtained from the National Information Standards Organization (NISO).

Character set standards are specified in MARC 21 Specifications for Record Structure, Character Sets, and Exchange Media.

MARC Standards and Other Related Publications:

These publications are available from the Library of Congress, Cataloging Distribution Service, Washington, DC 20541, USA (Worldwide distribution). Where indicated these publications are available on the Internet.


This document supersedes the most recent editions of the USMARC Format for Community Information.

USMARC Documentation

MARC 21 supersedes the 1993 edition of USMARC Format for Community Information: Including Guidelines for Content Designation and update No. 1 (April 1996) to that edition. The 1993 edition superseded the 1992 provisional format approved in January 1992 by the MARC Advisory Group.


The MARC 21 Format for Community Information is prepared by the Network Development and MARC Standards Office, Library of Congress, in cooperation with Content Management Division, Library and Archives Canada (previously National Library of Canada) and Bibliographic Standards and Systems, British Library. Please direct any questions related to the content of this document to one of the following:

Network Development and MARC Standards Office
Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, DC 20540-4402, USA
Fax: +1-202-707-0115
Email: [email protected]

Description Division
Library and Archives Canada
395 Wellington St.
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N4, Canada
Fax: +1-819-934-4388
Email: [email protected]

Collection Metadata
The British Library
Boston Spa, Wetherby
West Yorkshire LS23 7BQ, United Kingdom
Fax: +44 (0) 1937 546586
Email: [email protected]

The MARC 21 Format for Community Information is organized on a field-by-field basis with each field separately paged to facilitate the updating of fields. Periodic updates of new and replacement pages for the base text and cumulated versions of the base text will be available from the Cataloging Distribution Service, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20541-5017, USA (Worldwide distribution) and available in Canada from Publishing and Depository Services, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0S9, Canada (Canadian distribution). Their availability will be announced on the Library of Congress MARC website, the Library and Archives Canada MARC website, on listservs, and through press releases to the library press and to those who purchase the initial base volume. Updates are also available on standing order from the Library of Congress and the Canadian Government Publishing-PWGSC.

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