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DATE: December 9, 2015

NAME: Defining Subfields $3 and $5 in Field 382 of the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format

SOURCE: Music Library Association (MLA)

SUMMARY: This discussion paper presents the need for subfields $3 (Materials specified) and $5 (Institution to which field applies) in Field 382 (Medium of Performance) of the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format.

KEYWORDS: Medium of Performance (BD); Field 382 (BD); Subfield $3, in field 382 (BD); Materials specified (BD); Subfield $5, in field 382 (BD); Institution to which field applies (BD); Library of Congress Medium of Performance Thesaurus for Music (BD); LCMPT (BD)

RELATED: 2012-01

12/09/15 – Made available to the MARC community for discussion.

01/10/16 – Results of MARC Advisory Committee discussion: The paper generated considerable discussion. The merits of using $3 versus $8 were addressed. It was noted, however, that MLA’s decision not to use $8 happened a while back and has been their preference ever since. The main focus of the discussion was over the use $5, specifically whether or not it was appropriate to use it to designate provenance information. Eventually, the group arrived at the conclusion that there are many reasons to use the $5, that part of the $5 definition itself validates the Discussion Paper’s suggested usages, and that community best practices could prescribe proper usage of the field. Local institutions may choose to strip out 382 fields containing subfield $5 on imported records if it is considered necessary. The paper will return as a proposal.

Discussion Paper No. 2016-DP01: Defining Subfields $3 and $5 in Field 382


Subfields $3 (Materials specified) and $5 (Institution to which field applies) are currently defined for use in many MARC fields used for bibliographic description. Subfield $3 is currently defined uniformly across many fields in the MARC format, and permits catalogers to better associate metadata with specific other parts of the bibliographic description. Subfield $5, one of the formal MARC control subfields, allows for metadata to be associated with a particular institution.

MARC Field 382 (Medium of Performance) as currently defined lacks subfield $3. It is also not identified as a field where control subfield $5 may be used. This paper discusses the need for validating these subfields in MARC Field 382.


2.1. Current definition of Field 382 in the Bibliographic format

2.2. Uses and need for subfield $3

Catalogers dealing with music and, particularly, recordings of performed music, frequently encounter compilations. Many of these compilations consist of works for a variety of mediums of performance. It is highly desirable to be able to associate the medium of performance recorded in MARC Field 382 with a work in the compilation, whether the work is supplied its own authorized access point, listed in a structured description in a contents note, or described less formally elsewhere in the description.

MARC Field 382 already is defined for control subfield $8, which provides an unambiguous way to link one field to another. It provides field link type “c,” defined as “constituent item,” which can be used to help clarify relationships of fields within the bibliographic description. Coding subfield $8 is fairly intricate, however, and uptake of subfield $8 by catalogers has not been enthusiastic. Nor have automated input tools been given widespread distribution to help in the task. Even if subfield $8 were used more frequently, it is not designed to link to information that is less formally presented than in its own MARC field, and thus could not function in all of the ways catalogers might want to associate medium of performance with other parts of the description.

In many other fields, a somewhat similar function is fulfilled by subfield $3. Defined as “Materials specified,” it allows the specification of the physical portions of the item to which the field applies. It also has been used to specify the logical unit to which a field applies. For instance the Music Library Association’s Best Practices for Music Cataloging Using RDA and MARC21 employs examples in which subfield $3 is used to refer to either physical or logical units of a resource. In the latter situations, it is used to informally link the contents of a field with a logical unit within a compilation.

In Field 382, the primary use of subfield $3 in a musical compilation would be to associate a medium of performance with the work or works in the compilation to which it applies. An example of when it could be used would be a musical album where a featured singer might perform with a jazz quartet on several tracks, while the rest of the disc might be devoted to performances with a big band. In this example, separate Fields 382 could be coded to record the different mediums of performance, one for voice and ensemble, and another for voice and big band. However, without subfield $3, these fields would float within the larger MARC record, untethered from the works they help describe. Defining subfield $3 could help expose the relationships.

Field 382 was validated in 2012 via MARC Proposal No. 2012-01 as a response to Resource Description and Access (RDA), and provides a way to record RDA elements for musical medium of performance. Its adoption has been accelerated by the adoption by the music library community of the Library of Congress Medium of Performance Thesaurus for Music (LCMPT) and the Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials (LCGFT) as replacements for form, genre, and medium of performance terms in the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH).

Historically, music used many pre-coordinated strings from LCSH such as “Suites (Oboe)” that are in reality mixtures of musical forms (“Suites”) with mediums of performances (“Oboe”). That original LCSH string would now be split between Field 655 for the form/genre component and Field 382 for the medium of performance. The validation of subfield $3 for use in field 382 would bring it into parity with field 655, to which it is a logical complement, and field 650 (Subject Added Entry--Topical Term), which it partially replaces; subfield $3 is valid for both. While it is true that subfield $3 has not yet seen widespread use in connection with subject and genre headings, there are several aspects of the migration away from LCSH which make adoption of subfield $3 more appealing.

First is a simple matter of quantity. A side effect of separating out genre and medium of performance into their own elements in distinct fields is that in bibliographic records there is the real possibility of a proliferation of access points. For example, in a record that might have had a limited number of LCSH terms, a cataloger supplying the more atomic elements from LCMPT and LCGFT could double the number of access points and elements. A catalog user could begin to have difficulty discerning which access points and elements relate to which works in a compilation. A practice that worked for users under LCSH could become overwhelming and confusing using the new vocabularies.

Second, LCMPT encourages greater granularity than LCSH.  This also contributes to increased ambiguity as a compilation of a dozen works that might be completely covered by a high-level LCSH heading such as "Instrumental ensembles" or “Vocal ensembles” may each be recorded with distinct sets of LCMPT terms in Field 382. Recording medium of performance in this manner provides users with much more specific information than a generic ensemble term.  The utility of this information is, however, diminished by the fact that users often cannot determine which works relate to which medium of performance without either prior knowledge of the works in question or a personal examination of the compilation—a situation scarcely more convenient or helpful than that afforded by more generic terms such as “Instrumental ensembles” or “Vocal ensembles.”

In both of the preceding scenarios, subfield $3 could help bring some order to a less ruly world.

2.3. Uses and need for subfield $5

Appendix A-Control Subfields of the MARC21 Bibliographic Format specifies two scenarios in which subfield $5 may be used. In the first case, subfield $5 may be employed to indicate that “[d]ata in the field may not apply to the universal description of the item.” Alternately, subfield $5 may be used to indicate that the supplied data “may apply universally to the item but be of interest only to the location cited.”

An example of the first case applied to Field 382 would be when a library would be in possession of a set of musical performance parts where a former owner arranged one of the instrumental parts for an alternate one, and inserted the part into the set for the original ensemble. In this case, the set of parts would include all of the parts of the original manifestation, and the instrumentation could be described in a Field 382 that would be universally applicable to all copies of the manifestation. In addition, a second Field 382 could be supplied to reflect the alternate instrumentation unique to the copy held by the institution. The institution code recorded in subfield $5 could be added as an alert that the additional Field 382 would not be of universal applicability.

An example of the second scenario, where metadata “may apply universally to the item but be of interest only to the location cited,” could be where an institution with a programmatic emphasis on string quartets might see a public services need to give access to “string quartet” as an ensemble name in the 382. The most current guidelines from the Music Library Association that address the 382, the Provisional Best Practices for Using LCMPT, would ask a cataloger to list the instruments individually, or optionally also supply an ensemble name from the LCMPT. The LCMPT lacks the term, “string quartet,” however, and supplying it would constitute a non-standard practice. The institution could decide the practice would be of interest only to themselves and opt to use subfield $5.

Different implementations of MARC 21 may have additional ways than subfield $5 to permit recording of data of only local interest. OCLC for instance defines a suite of fields parallel to their counterparts in MARC 21 that are used for local information such as local added entries or local subject added entries. No equivalent parallel local field exists for the Field 382 in the OCLC ecosystem, so subfield $5 could be a useful way to distinguish local data.

In an age of catalog records shared in global utilities it might not be desirable to push out local variations of data. However, most contemporary library systems have some capability to process or display information based on the content of indicators or subfields. One practical application of defining subfield $5 would be that at least some of these systems could be profiled to disregard information in fields tagged with subfield $5 from another institution, excluding information that might not be of interest. Also, profiles for importing or harvesting such data could be designed to treat institution-specific information differently from that which would have universal applicability.


Example 1:

An illustration of point 2.2, above, a sound recording compilation of two works for piano and orchestra, plus a third work, an encore for solo piano. The cataloger chose to list the works in a contents note.

382 01 $3 1st-2nd works $b piano $n 1 $a orchestra $e 1 $2 lcmpt
382 01 $3 3rd work $a piano $n 1 $s 1 $2 lcmpt
505 00 $t Piano concerto no. 1, op. 23 / $r Tchaikovsky -- $t Piano concerto no. 2, op. 18 / $r Rachmaninoff -- $t Islamey : $g piano / $r Balakirev.

Example 2:

A further illustration of point 2.2, a sound recording compilation of two works, the first a quintet for clarinet and strings, the second a concerto for clarinet and orchestra. Works are provided in authorized access points.

382 01 $3 1st work $a clarinet $n 1 $a violin $n 2 $a viola $n 1 $a cello $n 1 $s 5 $2 lcmpt
382 01 $3 2nd work $b clarinet $n 1 $a orchestra $e 1 $2 lcmpt
700 12 $i Container of (work): $a Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, $d 1756-1791. $t Quintets, $m clarinet, violins (2), viola, cello, $n K. 581, $r A major.
700 12 $i Container of (work): $a Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, $d 1756-1791. $t Concertos, $m clarinet, orchestra, $n K. 622, $r A major.

In the two 700 fields above, it would be entirely appropriate for subfield $3 to associate the authorized access point with the corresponding first or second work within the compilation, although this is not common practice. Doing so might give the appearance that $3 is being used to link the first Field 382 to the first Field 700 and the second Field 382 to the second Field 700, using the subfield $3 as a sloppy surrogate for the more precise linkage possible with subfield $8. In reality the subfields $3 would refer to logical components of the compilation, and not to each other. Indeed, in this example it would be possible to employ both $3 and $8, the former to informally associate fields with logical components of a compilation, the latter to formally pair fields within the MARC record.

Example 3:

An illustration of the first scenario in point 2.3, above, a resource for flute, viola, and harp, where a library’s copy has an additional part where the composer’s original viola part has been arranged for clarinet. The arranged part was added by a former owner and only appears in this library’s collection. The example shows coded representations for the original ensemble, and another for the ensemble with the arranged part.\

382 01 $a flute $n 1 $a viola $n 1 $a harp $n 1 $s 3 $2 lcmpt
382 01 $a flute $n 1 $a clarinet $n 1 $a harp $n 1 $s 3 $2 lcmpt $5 [XXX--Institution code for the library to which this variant is unique]

Example 4:

An illustration of the second scenario in point 2.3, a resource for string quartet, where a library would like to use an alternate, non-standard method to record the ensemble name, a practice that would not be of interest to other libraries. The first Field 382 is coded according to standard community practices, the second to local standards.

382 01 $a violin $n 2 $a viola $n 1 $a cello $n 1 $s 4 $2 lcmpt
382 01 $a string quartet $e 1 $2 local $5 [XXX--Institution code for the only library to which this practice would be of interest]


Medium of Performance is a complex area and holds great potential for specialized retrieval if well coded.  Working this out in the MARC environment will provide smoother transition to the “to be developed” vocabulary for Music in BIBFRAME.


5.1. $3 – Materials specified

5.1.1. Field 382 is here considered primarily as part of a bibliographic record, but it is also used in authority records.  Are there situations in which 382 $3 could also be valuable as part of an authority record?

5.1.2. In the MARC environment, could establishing a method to link instances of field 382 directly to work records profitably augment or substitute for the functionality provided by $3?

5.1.3. The discussion points to uses of subfield $3 to associate data with both physical and logical units of a resource. Is this practice out of line with the original definition of the subfield?

5.2. $5 – Institution to which field applies

5.2.1. Defining subfield $5 could lead to more institutions sharing local data in shared library systems. Would this be problematic?

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