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DATE: December 9, 2015

NAME: Broaden Usage of Field 257 to Include Autonomous Regions in the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format

SOURCE: Online Audiovisual Catalogers (OLAC)

SUMMARY: This paper proposes broadening the usage of field 257 (Country of Producing Entity) to include autonomous regions so that regions with strong film cultures can be used in this field.  This will involve changing the name of the field and changing the field definition and scope.

KEYWORDS: Field 257 (BD); Country of producing entity (BD)


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

01/09/16 – Results of MARC Advisory Committee discussion: There was overall support for the paper. The discussion addressed a question concerning whether this redefinition should be limited to officially recognized autonomous regions, to which the reply was that it is not for the MARC community to decide about definitions for autonomous regions. OLAC noted that the immediate need for this paper is the film production in four regions: Hong Kong, Taiwan, Palestine, and Puerto Rico. In response to a follow up query whether use of this field would extend beyond films, OLAC noted that there is no known use beyond films: this paper is based entirely on practices of the film industry. It is up to other communities to come forward if this approach represents a problem. The paper will return as a proposal.

Discussion Paper No. 2016-DP07: Broaden Usage of Field 257 to Include Autonomous Regions


Field 257 is currently defined in the Bibliographic format as follows:

Field Definition and Scope:
Name or abbreviation of the name of the country(s) where the principal offices of the producing entity(s) of a resource are located.

Entity(s) in this instance is the production company(s) or individual that is named in the statement of responsibility (subfield $c) of field 245 (Title Statement).

Field 257 is used heavily by the film and video cataloging community to bring out the country where the production companies associated with a film are located.  This information is an important part of film culture and is important information to communicate to library users. Information about the country of origin of films is commonly included in reference sources. For example, and

There are a few entities that are not technically countries, which are generally included in lists of films by country. The most common examples are Hong Kong and Palestine. Hong Kong has a long film tradition that is distinct from that of mainland China. Users would also like to distinguish Palestinian films from Israeli films. Both the Wikipedia and IMDb lists referenced above include Hong Kong and Palestine in their “country” lists. Macau or Northern Ireland could be additional examples.

Prior to 2010, field 257 was used only in archival cataloging based on information required by AMIM ( Therefore, most libraries used subject and later genre fields to bring out this information. Because this practice was “local,” catalogers had more flexibility to include autonomous regions.  Now that the 257 has taken the place of these local conventions, catalogers would like to be able to record these autonomous regions in 257.


Very few changes to the format would be needed in order to allow these regions to be valid.  The title would need to be changed to “Country or Autonomous Region of Producing Entity”.  The “Field Definition and Scope” would also need to be changed to include this phrase.  There would be no cost associated with the change other than updating the documentation and any institution that did not wish to record autonomous regions in 257 would be free not to. Institutions or communities of practice may wish to decide under what conditions they would choose to include autonomous regions as well as which ones they would use, but it is not necessary for the MARC format to specify this.


Example 1

257 ## $a Hong Kong. $2 naf


257 ## $a Hong Kong (China). $2 naf

One is valid before 1997 and one after.

Example 2

257 ## $a Palestine. $2 naf


No impact


5.1. Would the broadening of this field have any detrimental effect on the field?

5.2. There are numerous autonomous prefectures, provinces, regions, etc., throughout the world (e.g., The Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in China; Native American and First Nation reservations in the United States and Canada, respectively; South Tyrol autonomous province in Italy; Trentino-Alto Adige autonomous region in Italy).  Any or all of these might have a film industry with different traditions than that of the country in which they are located geographically.  Should all autonomous regions, etc., be eligible for inclusion in this field, or only those that for geopolitical reasons are often included in lists of countries, such as Hong Kong and Palestine?

5.3. Should far-flung overseas dependencies or territories be eligible for inclusion in the 257 field?  For example, France has five overseas departments, five overseas collectivities, etc.  They have varying levels of autonomy, but all of them are quite a distance from France itself (e.g., French Polynesia; Saint Martin).  The United States also has numerous territories, including Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, some of which are half a world away from the U.S. mainland.  Any or all of these may have their own film cultures and traditions.

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