Discussion Paper 2002-DP05

DATE: December 18, 2001

NAME: Guidelines for the Nonfiling Control Character Technique in the MARC 21 Formats

SOURCE: MARC Advisory Committee

SUMMARY: This paper presents application guidelines for the control characters previously approved for dealing with nonfiling, non-sorting and non-indexing characters found in MARC 21 records.

KEYWORDS: Nonfiling characters

RELATED: DP 102 (June 1997); 98-16 (June 1998); 98-16R (December 1998); DP 118 (June 1999)


12/18/01 - Made available to the MARC 21 community for discussion.

01/21/02 - Results of the MARC Advisory Committee discussion - Participants were concerned by many of the liberal examples in section 2.2.5 and agreed that more prescriptive guidelines should be drafted for using the nonfiling control character technique. There was no consensus about whether the nonfiling indicator value should be # (blank) or 0 when using the control character technique, however. Guidelines will be written that present using the control character technique for indicating nonfiling characters, particularly initial articles, in a limited number of fields (e.g., 246, 7XX subfield $t). These guidelines will exclude using the technique for indexing practices. Consideration may be given to broadening the use of the technique in the formats in the future.

Discussion Paper 2002-DP05: Guidelines for the Nonfiling Control Character Technique in the MARC 21 Formats


1.1 Nonfiling Zone

Because the word "nonfiling" has been historically used in the formats, the use of the name, "nonfiling zone," in this paper encompasses all nonfiling, non-sorting and non-indexing characters. The following rules are assumed in the consideration of blocking off a nonfiling zone because they have been specified in applying the indicator technique in the past :

1.2 Past Discussions

The MARC Advisory Committee has considered the issue of nonfiling characters in the MARC 21 formats on several occasions. There has been consensus that the current technique of using an indicator value to designate the number of nonfiling characters is not adequate since it cannot be used in all fields or subfields that may require setting off nonfiling characters. At its meeting in June 1998, Proposal No. 98-16 was discussed and the technique for using beginning and ending control characters (Hex "X88" and Hex "X89" from ISO 6630) to block off the nonfiling characters was approved. There was not clear consensus on the situations to which the technique could and should be applied, however.

The June 1998 discussions of this issue indicated a desire to limit the application of blocking off nonfiling characters to the beginning of fields or subfields and to specify which fields and subfields could be used with the control character technique. Discussion of Proposal No. 98-16R in January 1999, however, called for a broader application of the technique by allowing it to be used in any field or subfield located anywhere in a field. There was consensus, however, that nonfiling characters could not exceed subfield boundaries.

Discussion Paper 118 in June 1999 discussed establishing rules and guidelines for applying the control character technique in cases not covered by Proposal No. 98-16R. The participants felt that the technique should be available for use to surround any definite or indefinite articles in an initial position of a field or subfield. A majority also favored use of the technique for interpolations for corrections, such as "(sic?)" or "i.e." The group, however, felt that the technique should not be allowed for stop words and extraneous characters because they are usually based on local preferences and cataloging practices.
The graphics { (for beginning of nonfiling zone) and } (for end of nonfiling zone) have been used in the following examples to represent the two control characters from ISO 6630.


Suggested application guidelines for the nonfiling control character technique are summarized below. They result from discussions occurring on the MARC electronic discussion list and in past MARC Advisory Committee and CCM meetings. Representatives from CC:DA, ALCTS SAC and the Rare Book community have also been consulted.

2.1 Use of the Nonfiling Control Character Technique as a Replacement for the Nonfiling Indicator Values

Because the nonfiling control character technique may provide an alternative to using the nonfiling indicator values in the formats, it may be used in the same fashion as the current nonfiling indicator values. The following are currently marked by the nonfiling indicator values:

2.1.1. Examples

240 10 $a{The }Pickwick papers
245 10 $a{The ... }annual report of the Governor
245 10 $a{L'}enfant criminal
245 10 $a{al-}Sharq as-'Arabi
245 10 $a{The }"winter mind"
700 1# $a{al-}Sadat, Anwar
245 10 $a{A }place like Alice

2.2 Use of the Nonfiling Control Character Technique in Other Instances in the MARC 21 Formats

Because cataloging authorities should provide guidance on the specific usages for the nonfiling control character technique, detailed or prescriptive usage guidelines should not be supplied in the MARC 21 formats. The following list enumerates possible uses for the technique and is based on past discussions and suggestions.

2.2.1. Fields and Subfields Using the Technique

While discussing DP 118, MARBI agreed that the technique should be available for use in all fields and subfields in the formats except fields with fixed-position data or subfields intended for coded data, such as codes input into subfields $2 or $7. Recent discussions on the MARC electronic discussion list indicate that the MARC community continues to favor this decision.

2.2.2. Placement Within Fields and Subfields

Discussion on the MARC electronic discussion list indicates that many members of the MARC community favor using the technique anywhere in a field as long as it does not cross over subfield boundaries. Members of CC:DA also indicated that they were in favor of using the nonfiling control character technique anywhere in a field.

2.2.3. Specific Type of Data or Characters for Which the Control Characters Chould Be Used Depending Upon Decisions by Appropriate Cataloging Authorities

Several types of data or characters have been suggested as candidates for the nonfiling control character technique. The below list enumerates several.

United States$xHistory$y{Civil War, }1861-1865.

This may be useful for location implementations, but its more general implementation would have to be considered by the appropriate subject heading system (in this case LCSH). It brings up questions of sorting versus indexing, where the disregarded characters may be desirable for indexing, but not for sorting.

2.2.4. Application of the Control Characters Across Subfield Boundaries

The discussion from the MARC electronic discussion list indicates that no party favors applying the control characters across subfield boundaries because of potential system programming difficulties. The results from DP 118 also confirmed this decision.

2.2.5. Examples of Various Uses

130 0# $a{"}Hsuan lai hsi kan" hsi liah
245 10 $a{[}Diary]
245 10 $a{­}as others see us
240 1# $aRosenkavalier {(Opera)}
245 00 $aNewhart.$pYour homebody till somebody love {(sic?) }you.
245 10 $a{Th [sic] }first sufi line / $cBill Bissett.
260 ## $aBoston :$bTicknor and Co., $c1888 [{i.e. }1889]
245 10 $aMaresal{ul }Ion Antonescu
245 10 $aIdei{te} za istoriiata :$bXX vek
245 10 $a{¿}Quién es quién en el Perú?
650 #2 $a{N,N-}Dimethyltryptamine
700 1# $aStower, Caleb.$t{The }printer's manual
245 00 $aDissertation abstracts.$nA,$p{The }humanities and social sciences.
100 1# $aSalisbury, James Cecil,$cEarl of,$d{d. }1683.


3.1 Are general application guidelines needed in the MARC 21 formats for the nonfiling character positions?

3.2 Does MARBI agree to leave the prescriptive cataloging guidelines up to specific cataloging codes and agencies?

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