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DATE: December 13, 2016

NAME: Providing Institution Level Information by Defining Subfield $5 in the 6XX Fields of the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format

SOURCE: German National Library

SUMMARY: This paper explores a way to designate in a MARC Bibliographic record that a subject access field in the 6XX region has been added according to the policy of a specific Cultural Heritage Organization. The approach taken is defining a subfield $5 (Institution to which field applies) containing the MARC Organization Code to the 6XX fields.

KEYWORDS: Subfield $5, in 6XX fields (BD); Institution to which field applies (BD); Subject Access Fields (BD)


12/13/16 – Made available to the MARC community for discussion.

01/22/17 – Results of MARC Advisory Committee discussion: Some MAC members expressed understanding for the use cases presented by the German National Library (DNB).  Other members raised concerns, e.g. the risk of introducing inconsistencies in the 6XX block.  The usage of subfield $5 within MARC is so persistent that there was widespread reservation regarding this proposed re-use of the subfield.  Alternative solutions were discussed:  Subfield $1 which may not be available, subfield $2 containing “local” or containing “gnd” + some punctuation + the MARC Organization Code, subfield $i which may better suit information from RDA Appendix M, subfield $q with a conflict in field 600, or field 883 (Machine-generated Metadata Provenance) with some changes needed in definition and scope.  The German National Library will consider the options, and decide whether to prepare a follow-up paper for the next MAC meeting.

Discussion Paper No. 2017-DP05: Providing Institution Level Information by Defining $5 in 6XX


The MARC Bibliographic format has subject access fields in the 6XX section. In these fields a cataloger can provide subject headings from different thesauri. When a MARC record is copied and shared, other catalogers may want to add subject headings. The distinction of which specific thesaurus is used can be expressed by an indicator, or by a value given in subfield $2 (Source of heading or term). If catalogers from different institutions want to provide information that the subject headings have been added based on different rules and regulations of their respective institutions, they need a format element that is not yet defined in most of the 6XX fields. Subfield $5 (Institution to which field applies) seems to be a format element worth exploring to cover this use case.


According to the MARC Bibliographic format "Appendix A - Control Subfields" at, $5 carries a

"MARC code of the institution or organization that holds the copy to which the data in the field applies. Data in the field may not apply to the universal description of the item or may apply universally to the item but be of interest only to the location cited."

The MARC Format provides a list of MARC Organization Codes at . According to the "Introduction",

"the MARC Code List for Organizations contains short alphabetic codes used to represent names of libraries and other kinds of organizations that need to be identified in the bibliographic environment. This code list is an essential reference tool for those dealing with MARC records, for systems reporting library holdings, for many interlibrary loan systems, and for those who may be organizing cooperative projects on a regional, national, or international scale. There are a number of data elements in the MARC formats that call for institutional identifiers, the chief ones being those that identify the organization assigning the record control number, the agency responsible for creating or modifying a record, and the agency holding a copy of the item. [...] "

Subfield $5 was originally intended for item level information ("organization X has this single item with these specific characteristics"). The scope of subfield $5 seems to have moved to policy level information ("organization X has cataloged this field according to its own rules and regulations"). Beyond that some catalogers use $5 to designate data provenance information ("organization X has added this field to the MARC record"). During the discussion of Discussion Paper 2016-DP01: "Defining Subfields $3 and $5 in Field 382 of the MARC 21 Bibliographic Format" and one of its examples at the Midwinter 2016 meeting of the MARC Advisory Committee it was noted that it was common to use $5 to designate provenance in the United States (cf. the minutes at ).

In the MARC Authority format subfield $5 is defined in some number fields, in some note fields, and throughout the 4XX (See From Tracing Fields), the 5XX (See Also From Tracing Fields), and the 7XX (Heading Linking Entry Fields). Here subfield $5 carries the

"MARC code of the institution or organization that has added a tracing, reference, or linking entry field to an authority file record. It is used for institution-specific information that may or may not apply to the universal use of the authority record."

It should be mentioned that in 2007 a similar approach had been submitted to MARBI: MARC Discussion Paper 2007-DP01 "Changes for the German and Austrian conversion to MARC 21" contained a section 2.10 "Add subfield for specification of assigning institution for subject headings". At that time the definition of subfield $5 was interpreted strictly to be used for item level information, cf. the minutes of the MARBI meeting in January 2007 at

The only field that already provides a subfield $5 is field 655 (Index term -- Genre/form). The content designator history in the online documentation at does not show when subfield $5 had been added to field 655.

Based on this analysis, we suggest the definition of subfield $5 in the fields of the 6XX section where it is not yet defined:

600 - Subject Added Entry - Personal Name (R)
610 - Subject Added Entry - Corporate Name (R)
611 - Subject Added Entry - Meeting Name (R)
630 - Subject Added Entry - Uniform Title (R)
647 - Subject Added Entry - Named Event (R)
648 - Subject Added Entry - Chronological Term (R)
650 - Subject Added Entry - Topical Term (R)
651 - Subject Added Entry - Geographic Name (R)
653 - Index Term - Uncontrolled (R)
654 - Subject Added Entry - Faceted Topical Terms (R)
656 - Index Term - Occupation (R)
657 - Index Term - Function (R)
658 - Index Term - Curriculum Objective (R)
662 - Subject Added Entry - Hierarchical Place Name (R)
69X - Local Subject Access Fields (R)


"Reformation then and now", abridged, based on

LDR 04935pam a2200865 c 4500
001 1100295909
003 DE-101
035 ## $a(OCoLC)950029835
040 ## $a1145$bger$cDE-101$d9999$erda
082 04 $81\x$a274.06$qDE-101$222/ger
083 7# $a230$a940$a943$qDE-101$223sdnb
085 ## $81\x$b274
085 ## $81\x$s270.6
111 2# $0$aTheological Conference within the Framework of the Meissen Process between the Church of England and the Evangelical Church in Germany$n9.$d2016$cLondon$jVerfasser$4aut
245 00 $aReformation then and now$bcontributions to the Ninth Theological Conference within the Framework of the Meissen Process between the Church of England and the Evangelical Church in Germany$cRichard Chartres [und weitere] (eds.)
250 ## $a[1. Auflage]
264 #1 $aLeipzig$bEvangelische Verlagsanstalt$c[2016]
300 ## $a172 Seiten$c22 cm
336 ## $aText$btxt$2rdacontent
337 ## $aohne Hilfsmittel zu benutzen$bn$2rdamedia
338 ## $aBand$bnc$2rdacarrier
610 27 $0$aChurch of England$2gnd$5DE-101
610 27 $0$aEvangelische Kirche in Deutschland$2gnd$5DE-101
648 #7 $aGeschichte$2gnd$5DE-101
650 #7 $0$aReformation$2gnd$5DE-101
650 #7 $0$aReformationsjubiläum $g2017$2gnd$5DE-101
650 #7 $0$aRezeption$2gnd$5DE-101
650 #7 $0$aAnglikanische Theologie$2gnd$5DE-101
650 #7 $0$aEvangelische Theologie$2gnd$5DE-101
653 ## $aMeissen process
653 ## $aReformation anniversary
653 ## $aecumenism
655 #7 $0$aKonferenzschrift $y2016$zLondon$2gnd-content$5DE-101
700 1# $0$aChartres, Richard$eHerausgeber$4edt
710 2# $0$aEvangelische Verlagsanstalt$4pbl
850 ## $aDE-101a$aDE-101b
856 42 $qapplication/pdf$u $3Inhaltsverzeichnis


No impact on BIBFRAME 2.0.


5.1. Is the need to provide the information that a specific institution has added a subject heading according to its rules and regulations to a MARC record esteemed beneficial?

5.2. Does the definition of a subfield $5 in the fields 6XX solve the issue?

5.3. Or is there an existing format element which can be used instead?

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

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