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DATE: December 9, 2015

NAME: Designation of a Definition in the MARC 21 Authority Format

SOURCE: German National Library

SUMMARY: This paper proposes a way of giving a definition in a MARC Authority record.

KEYWORDS: Definition (AD); Fields 667-68X (AD)


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

01/09/16 – Results of MARC Advisory Committee discussion:  The Committee suggested several fields that already exist in the 667 - 68X region, among them 678 (Biographical or Historical Data) and 680 (Public General Note). In field 680, subfield $i (Explanatory text) was brought into the discussion. The German National Library was asked to explore the solutions. Based on the results, the paper may return as a proposal or as another discussion paper.

Discussion Paper No. 2016-DP13: Designation of a Definition 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 there is often information about the entity described by giving a brief definition, in the style of the first section of an article in a dictionary. This brief description is intended to be displayed to the end user, e.g. in a discovery system, so that a quick and easy way to identify the entity is available. Also in terms of Linked Library Data a brief definition of an entity is important.

Following the URIs in the fields 024 (with $2 "uri") of the example records, a catalog display of the DNB provided by the Permalink Resolver is visible which gives an impression of the style of display. The label "Erläuterungen", meaning explanation, is followed by the sublabel "Definition", as opposed to other types of notes.

An analysis of the fields in the 667-68X region of the MARC 21 Authority Format shows that none of the fields there seem to cover this type of information. Field 680 (Public General Note) "provides general information about a 1XX heading for which a specialized note field has not been defined", mostly containing usage instructions. Field 678 (Biographical or Historical Data) was analyzed as well, which seems to be too narrow in scope, as not each of the GND definitions is biographical or historical.

Thus, a new field is proposed here:

Field number: in the region of 667-68X (possibly "668") - Definition (R)

First Indicator: # - Undefined

Second Indicator: # - Undefined

Subfield Codes

$a - Definition (NR)


001 974394327
024 7# $a$2uri
035 ## $a(DE-588)10101395-4
040 ## $aDE-101$9r:DE-101$bger$d1250
110 2# $aVerwaltungsgemeinschaft Egelner Mulde
668 ## $aVerwaltungsgemeinschaft besteht aus den aufgelösten VG Bördeaue, Börde-Hakel u. der Stadt Egeln
670 ## $aHomepage$u Verwaltungsgemeinschaft_Egelner_Mulde

001 1010009206
024 7# $a$2uri
035 ## $a(DE-588)7734469-8
040 ## $aDE-6$9r:DE-605$bger$d1250
100 0# $aDietrich$cvon Engelsheim$d-1435$tLiber dissencionum archiepiscopi Coloniensis et Capituli Paderbornensis$xHandschrift$xPaderborn$xErzbischöfliche Akademische Bibliothek$xCod. 136
668 ## $aUm 1440 entstandene Sammelhandschrift mit Urkunden und Texten zum Streit zwischen dem Erzbischof von Köln, Dietrich von Moers, und dem Paderborner Domkapitel; für den überw. Teil des Inhaltes gilt Dietrich von Engelsheim als Verfasser
670 ## $aInternet$b, Stand: 14.2.2011$u

001 042401062
024 7# $a$2uri
035 ## $a(DE-588)4240106-9
040 ## $aDE-384$9r:DE-384$bger$d1150
150 ## $aRegionalbibliothek
667 ## $aIm MO zugelassen für einzelne Regionalbibliotheken.
668 ## $aBibliothek mit zentraler Funktion für ein Gebiet unterhalb der Landesebene; z.B. Regierungsbezirk (i.d.R. Bibliotheken der 2. Stufe nach dem Bibliotheksplan '73)
670 ## $a- Sauppe: Wörterb. d.Bibliothekswesens


Impact would be on MADSRDF.  An additional note type might be added.


5.1. Is the need of designating a definition clearly given?

5.2. Can the issue be solved by a format element already available in the MARC Authority format?

5.3. Can a format solution like the new field "668" solve the issue?

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

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