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DATE: December 20, 2012

NAME: Separating the Type of Related Entity from the RDA Relationship Designator in MARC 21 Bibliographic Format Linking Entry Fields

SOURCE: Canadian Committee on MARC (CCM)

SUMMARY: This paper presents an option for recording RDA relationship designators in 76X-78X subfield $4.  This paper also requests that Library of Congress establish a list of relationship codes.  The user-friendly versions of the designators will be recorded in subfield $i.

KEYWORDS: Relationship designators (BD); Type of Related Entity (BD); Field 76X-78X [Bibliographic]; RDA Appendix J; RDA Appendix K; RDA; Resource Description and Access

RELATED: 2009-DP01/2

12/20/12 - Made available to the MARC community for discussion.

01/26/13 Results of MARC Advisory Committee discussion: Committee recommendations: 1)  Do not propose repeating subfield $i. 2) Do not limit the changes to just 787, i.e. all of the 76X-78X linking entry fields should be included because the community seems to have decided to take advantage of the existing semantics. 3) Develop another discussion paper which includes a place for user-friendly labels and for codes.  The recommended best practice could be to record the unqualified designators in $i. 4) The title of the next discussion paper will focus on recording relationship designators rather than on the “type of related entity.” 5) There was discussion about whether subfields $i/$4 (designating the type of relationship) would be the right choice, or whether subfield $7 (designating the type of related entity) would fit better. 6) It was noted that the paper should also apply to the Authority format, with focus on the 5XX fields; and that the issues discussed also affect RDA Appendix I and should be addressed in the future proposal.

Discussion Paper No. 2013-DP04: Separating the Type of Related Entity from the RDA Appendix J Relationship Designators


RDA relationship designators found in RDA Appendix J, Relationships between Works, Expressions, Manifestations and Items, sometimes use parenthetical qualifiers to indicate the type of related entity.  The parenthetical qualifiers have been problematic because, while they make sense to catalogers who are familiar with the FRBR model, they are a source of confusion for the public.  It is desirable to find a mechanism that enables a more user-friendly method of displaying the text of the relationship designator, while continuing to accommodate the complete designators defined in RDA.


The issues involved in accommodating RDA appendices J and K were presented by the RDA MARC Working Group in MARC Discussion Paper 2009-DP01/2.  Several ideas emerged from that paper but it was decided not to pursue the work further until the RDA appendices were stable. As more and more libraries are implementing RDA, it is desirable to select a practice for recording relationship designators to best assist users in finding, selecting, identifying and obtaining the resource they need. Following the MARBI discussion of DP 2009-01/2 it was recommended to use MARC field 787 Non-specific relationship between two bibliographic records with the relationship designator recorded in $i.  There have been concerns expressed by RDA implementors that the relationship designators are not user friendly.  The parenthetical portion of the designators, generally the type of related entity, is not helpful to catalog users. It is important to note that 76X-78X relationship codes are not the same as the 7XX relator codes.

An ideal solution would:

For these reasons, we recommend the use of 76X-78X $4 to record a relationship code for relationships between FRBR Group 1 entities.  We suggest that a list of RDA relationship codes corresponding to RDA Appendix J be established, perhaps by the Library of Congress.

CCM has looked at the draft version of the report from the PCC Relationship Designator Guidelines Task Group issued in early December 2012 and appreciates the very thorough analysis of other issues around relationship designators.  CCM feels it is important to re-open the discussion started with DP 2009-01/2.


Use relationship codes as was suggested in the earlier discussion paper 2009-DP01/2.   A new list of relationship codes would need to be established separate from the MARC relator list.  The list of relationship codes would be used exclusively in the 76X-78X $4 Relationship code subfield.  It would be very interesting to explore the possibility of using a URI pointing to the already established vocabulary of RDA relationship designators in the Open Metadata Registry in $4.

787 08 $ireproduction of $4[relationship code for reproduction of (manifestation)] $aVerdi, Guiseppe, $d1813-1901. $tOtello,$dMilan: Ricordi, c1913.


787 08 $ireproduction of $4[URI pointing to the relationship code in the OMR] $aVerdi, Guiseppe, $d1813-1901. $tOtello,$dMilan: Ricordi, c1913.


These are other options considered but discarded during CCM's deliberation of this issue.

4.1 Use a repeated subfield $i

There are two possible variants of this option: 

a) record the base of the relationship designator in the first $i and the parenthetical qualifier in the second $i

787 08 $ireproduction of $i(manifestation) $aVerdi, Guiseppe, $d1813-1901. $tOtello,$dMilan: Ricordi, c1913.

b) record the "display-friendly" relationship designator in one $i and the complete designator in the other.

787 08 $ireproduction of $ireproduction of (manifestation) $aVerdi, Guiseppe, $d1813-1901. $tOtello,$dMilan: Ricordi, c1913.

No change to MARC designation required, but systems would need to be programmed to display only the first subfield $i.

4.2. Define a new subfield

Define a new subfield as type of related entity in the 787 field.  Subfield $5 has not been used in the 76X-78X block of fields, but in other blocks it is defined as Institution to which field applies.  Many people recognize and associate subfield $5 with that definition so this could be confusing.  Subfield $5, while possible, is not an ideal choice. 

Subfield $j has been defined in one other field in the 76X-78X block, the 786 Data Source field.  The likelihood of 786 being used in RDA is questionable.  It may seem irregular to have $j with two different definitions within the same block of fields but not unprecedented.  The advantage of $j is that alphabetically it follows the subfield $i.

There are two possible variants of this option:

a) record the base of the relationship designator in $i and the parenthetical qualifier in $j

787 08 $ireproduction of $j(manifestation) $aVerdi, Guiseppe, $d1813-1901. $tOtello,$dMilan: Ricordi, c1913

b) record the "display-friendly" relationship designator in $i and the complete designator in $j

787 08 $ireproduction of $jreproduction of (manifestation) $aVerdi, Guiseppe, $d1813-1901. $tOtello,$dMilan: Ricordi, c1913.

Systems would need to be programmed to suppress 787 $j from display.

4.3. Define $7/0 as type of related entity

This position is currently defined as type of main entry heading with codes defined to correspond with the type of 1XX in the related record: Personal name, Corporate name, Meeting name, Uniform title, and not applicable.

In consideration that $7/position 0 has been rarely used, it could be redefined to "Type of related entity."  The existing codes could be made obsolete, or retained.  New codes could be defined for work, expression, manifestation and item. The code list could possibly be:

p  personal name (obsolete)
c   corporate name (obsolete)
m  meeting name (obsolete)
u   uniform title  (obsolete)
w  related entity work
e   related entity expression
a   related entity manifestation
i    related entity item
n   not applicable

4.4. Explore the use of character encoding

Explore the use character encoding that signals that a string should not be displayed.  The disadvantage is that there are not control characters specifically designed to flag the start and termination of a string that should not be displayed.  Control characters are available to surround a string, 0096 "start of guarded area" and 0097 "end of guarded area" but systems would need to be programmed to not display text found within these codes.  These control characters were not defined in the MARC-8 character set and the MARC 21 Specifications document advises against defining new control characters.  It would be desirable to learn whether a similar functionality will be planned for the new bibliographic framework, and how current MARC 21 encoding could prepare for the transition.


5.1. Do you agree with the recommended best practice for recording both a code corresponding to the RDA relationship designators from Appendix J and a user-friendly presentation of those designators?

5.2 This paper has not addressed encoding relationship designators between authority records, or between bibliographic and authority records.  Is there concern that the RDA primary relationships cannot be explicitly coded in authority records?

5.3. A few of the relationship designators found in RDA Appendix I, (relationships between Group 2 and Group 1 entities) uses a parenthetical qualifier.  Is a solution necessary for those relationships, or can they be handled in the MARC relator term and code lists?

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