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DATE: December 9, 2015

NAME: Punctuation in the MARC 21 Authority Format

SOURCE: German National Library

SUMMARY: This paper explains why libraries from German speaking countries do not provide punctuation when content designation identifies an element sufficiently.  It proposes coding to indicate the absence of punctuation redundant to field and subfield coding via a Leader position.

KEYWORDS: Punctuation (AD); Leader/18 (AD)

RELATED: 2010-DP01, 2010-07

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

01/10/16 – Results of MARC Advisory Committee discussion:  The Committee supported defining the proposed code for Leader position 18 for the punctuation policy and using it in combination with existing field 040 subfield $e for the description conventions, specifically for "rda" as a value. The paper will return as a proposal.

Discussion Paper No. 2016-DP11: Punctuation in the Authority Format


When four large authority files used in German speaking countries were merged into one "Integrated Authority File" ("Gemeinsame Normdatei" or "GND") in 2012, MARC 21 was chosen as the format for cataloging, with some additions and modifications, based on cataloging traditions in German speaking countries. On the level of the exchange format, librarians have encountered the use of several local fields and subfields. After three years of consolidation, these elements have been evaluated to determine their potential appeal as part of the MARC 21 communication standard. Based on the evaluation results, the German National Library presents a series of discussion papers.


In MARC Authority records of the GND the usage of punctuation is restricted in a similar way as it is in MARC Bibliographic records from libraries in German speaking countries: If a field and its subfields identify the single elements of a heading or tracing information sufficiently, punctuation is omitted from the content of the field and its subfields.  Inside the content of a subfield punctuation is used if needed.

Instead of headings taken from the Library of Congress Name Authority File:

100 1# $aWittgenstein, Ludwig,‎$d1889-1951

100 0#$aElizabeth‎$bII,‎$cQueen of Great Britain,$d1926-

100 0# $aFrancis,$cPope,$d1936-

we have in the GND:

100 1# $aWittgenstein, Ludwig‎$d1889-1951

100 0# $aElisabeth$bII.$cGroßbritannien, Königin‎$d1926-

100 0# $aFranziskus$cPapst$d1936-

To designate this policy in each MARC Authority record of the GND, a solution similar to the one in the MARC Bibliographic format may be chosen.  In Leader position 18 "Descriptive cataloging form" a coded value of "c" means "ISBD punctuation omitted":

MARC Bibliographic Format, Leader position 18 - Descriptive cataloging form
# - Non-ISBD
a - AACR 2
c - ISBD punctuation omitted
i - ISBD punctuation included
u – Unknown

Position 18 of the leader in the MARC Authority Format is "Undefined" up to now:

18-19 - Undefined character positions
# - Undefined

We suggest defining MARC Authority Leader position 18 as:

18 - Punctuation policy

with code values:

# - No information provided
c - Punctuation omitted
i - Punctuation included
u - Unknown


Leader/18 "c"
001 118634313
024 7# $a$2uri
100 1# $aWittgenstein, Ludwig$d1889-1951
400 1# $aWittgenstein, Ludvig$d1889-1951
400 1# $aWittgenstein, Ludovicus$d1889-1951
400 1# $aWittgenstein, L.$d1889-1951
400 1# $aWittgenstein, ...$d1889-1951
400 1# $aWittgenstein, Ludwig J.$d1889-1951

Leader/18 "c"
001 118529889
024 7# $a$2uri
100 0# $aElisabeth$bII.$cGroßbritannien, Königin$d1926-
400 0# $aElizabeth$bII.$cGreat Britain, Queen$d1926-
400 0# $aElisabeth II.$d1926-
400 0# $aElisabeth II. Königin Elisabeth II$d1926-

Leader/18 "c"
001 1032307897
024 7# $a$2uri
100 0# $aFranziskus$cPapst$d1936-
400 0# $aFranziskus$bI.$cPapst$d1936-
400 0# $aFranciscus$bI.$cPapa$d1936-
400 0# $aFranciscus$cPapa$d1936-
400 1# $aBergoglio, Jorge Mario$d1936-$94:nafr$wr$iFrueherer Name$eFrueherer Name
400 1# $aBergoglio, Jorge$d1936-$94:nafr$wr$iFrueherer Name$eFrueherer Name
400 1# $aBergoglio, Georgius Marius$d1936-$94:nafr$wr$iFrueherer Name$eFrueherer Name


While data in BIBFRAME tends not to include punctuation and leave it open to the cataloger, an indication in the MARC record about punctuation may make it easier to translate the data to MADSRDF and BIBFRAME (titles, name/titles).


5.1. Is a new code for Leader position 18 an appropriate solution for the intended purpose?

5.2. Is there another option for the information such as a variable field in the 0XX or 8XX range or a fixed field position?

5.3. Are there any potential problems that should be taken into account?

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