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Associations and InstitutionsAnnual 

64th IFLA Conference Logo

   64th IFLA General Conference
   August 16 - August 21, 1998


Code Number: 080-161(WS)-E
Division Number:
Professional Group: UBCIM Core Programme
Joint Meeting with: Permanent UNIMARC Committee and Division of Bibliographic Control
Meeting Number: 161.
Simultaneous Interpretation:   No

UNIMARC Authorities

Mirna Willer
Consultant for Library Automation
National and University Library
Zagreb, Croatia
E-mail: mwiller@nsk.hr


UNIMARC/Authorities: Universal Format for Authorities was published in 1991, and UNIMARC/Authorities: List of Errata in 1994. Since then, the Permanent UNIMARC Committee* has considered and approved some additions to the format, which, however, have not yet been officially published. These additions were partly proposals from UNIMARC/Authorities users, and partly from the PUC with particular aim to align it to the UNIMARC bibliographic format. Approved fields/subfields/codes are the following:

The new 260 field is used to record authority form of the place of publication, printing or manufacture primarily used in rare book cataloguing. It is a corresponding field to the bibliographic field 620 Place Access.

This field and the reference tracing fields in 4-- SEE REFERENCE TRACING BLOCK and 5-- SEE ALSO REFERENCE TRACING BLOCK, i.e. 420 and 520 have the same indicators and subfields. The same is the case with linking heading field in 7-- LINKING HEADING BLOCK, i.e. 720.

The link from bibliographic field 620 to authority field 260 is made by $3 Authority Record Number approved* for use in field 620.

Subfield $2 System Code is added to the field to code the name of the format used for the machine readable record.

This new field is used when converting foreign MARC records into the UNIMARC format to record data for which there is no corresponding UNIMARC field.

The PUC* discussed the publication of the second edition of the UNIMARC/Authorities. General agreement of the standing members was that the layout of the revised edition should be the same as UNIMARC Manual: Bibliographic Format. This means that a detailed description of the use of fields, subfields and codes would be given, and that it would be published in a loose-leaf form.

However, the mentioned elements do not make the only additional material for the revised edition. There are several important working groups and projects which reports will directly influence future development of the format.

IFLA UBCIMP Working Group on Minimal Level Authority Records (MLAR) and the International Standard Authority Data Number (ISADN) was established in 1996 with the aim to reconsider the way for international sharing of authority data and provide recommendations in that direction.

The Working Group recognized that national libraries due to various historical and cultural reasons, their users needs and habits and technological constraints variously follow IFLA recommendations put forward by a series of documents published within the programme for Universal Bibliographic Control. This is particularly evident in respect to using original form of author's name or title as authority heading, i.e. the same form of heading for the same bibliographic entity. The Working Group also recognized that it would not be practical to impose the same form for headings globally. Therefore, the Group proposes that each National Bibliographic Agency (NBA) make their authority files available over the Internet, preferably using IFLA home page to register current information on their files and conditions of use. This would enable searching single national or multi-national authority files online in a shared environment and exchanging them in electronic form in ISO 2709 formats.

The Group further identified basic elements of the authority record, provided definition of each, found which already exist in various formats for authorities and suggested which should be recommended for addition. The identification of the basic elements was made on the comparison of data elements of UNIMARC/Authorities and 9 MARC formats for authorities: AAAFMARC, BLMARC, Belgian KBR MARC, CANMARC, Croatian UNIMARC, FINMARC, INTERMARC, MAB and USMARC. The work was limited to authority records for names of persons, corporate bodies, conferences and uniform titles, i.e. name authority files.

The Working Group also discussed the concept of using an ISADN, international standard number to be assigned to the authority entry that would link the associated authority records created by various agencies. However, the Working Group concluded that due to organizational and financial constraints for maintaining such a system its realization should be postponed while the concept should be reviewed again in the future. It recommended waiting to see how the emerging electronic environment and advances in developing technologies impact the linking of records.

Based on the results of the concordance of the formats and the reconsideration of the necessary content of the internationally shared authority record, the Working Group made draft recommendations to the PUC* for changes to UNIMARC/Authorities. These recommendations refer to:

The Working Group made also recommendations to the Working Group on revision of Guidelines for Authority and Reference Entries (GARE) established in 1997 during the IFLA Conference in Copenhagen.

These refer broadly to:

The Working Group sent its draft report in December 1997 for experts review. The results of this review together with the PUC preliminary comments on the draft recommendation will be incorporated into the final report to be discussed during the Working Group's meeting in Amsterdam, August 1998.

The representative of the Bibliotheque nationale de France in the PUC* reported on the BnF project to supply French libraries with the UNIMARC/Authorities records and the European Project AUTHOR. BnF also had representative in the Working Group on MLAR and the ISADN. Conclusions from these two projects and the work within the Working Group could be summarized briefly here because they will be described in more detail by my French colleague. The proposal for additions to the format aligns with the WG on MLAR and the ISADN recommendation in expressing the need to code category and nationality of the entity, although the proposal goes to greater detail. Other issues are:

Working Group on the revision of Guidelines for Authority and Reference Entries (GARE) that was set up by the Section on Cataloguing did not yet report to the PUC* on their activities that would impact the future development of the format. It is hoped, however, that by the time of this Workshop, there would be some relevant information to share.

IFLA Standing Committee of the Section on Classification and Indexing was approached for their comments on possible additions and changes of UNIMARC/Authorities, especially in the light of Principles Underlying Subject Heading Languages. General feeling of the members reported to the PUC* was that detailed change in relationship codes in subfield $5 Tracing Control would create unnecessary complications.

IFLA Working Group on Form and Structure of Corporate Headings was established in Istanbul, 1995. The results of the revision process of this document have to be closely monitored for possible impact on format design.

Consortium of European Libraries (CERL) Hand Press Book database is a multinational database which, for the moment, comprises of 6 files from different libraries, showing different cataloguing traditions and practices in recording rare books. CERL's communication format is UNIMARC. Authority control over the headings in such a database was considered one of the priorities set up for the Consortium's Advisory Task Group which met in February 1998. The ATG discussed the development of a thesaurus file that would comprise of place names, printer's names and author/title. 'Thesaurus' rather than 'authority' file was considered because the Group felt that only in the environment that would provide equal status to variant forms, the national differences in authorized forms of names of historical persons and bodies could be preserved.

It is expected that this group will also have some requirements for the future development of the authorities format.

The PUC will held its unofficial meeting during the IFLA Conference in Amsterdam at which it will further discuss the revision of UNIMARC/Authorities.

*IFLA Permanent UNIMARC Committee (PUC) held its 9th meeting in Moscow, 26-27 March 1998. All decisions made during the meeting as well as discussion of proposal documents are marked with asterisk.