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Associations and InstitutionsAnnual 

64th IFLA Conference Logo

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


Code Number: 110-161(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

Presentation of UNIMARC on the Web: New Fields Including the one for Electronic Resources

Brian Holt
British Library & Permanent UNIMARC Committee
British Library
Boston Spa, UK


There are two parts to this topic: the UNIMARC information which is held on the Web and the treatment of Internet documents by the UNIMARC bibliographic format.

UNIMARC information on the Web

The first part is the most difficult, as it is impossible to make any specific statement about the Web which is not soon out of date.
This is the position in mid-June.
The IFLA site is http://www.ifla.org. It had earlier Web addresses; but these are out of date. There is a general introduction to the Permanent UNIMARC Committee, which is the committee of experts in charge of the maintenance and promotion of UNIMARC under the auspices of the IFLA UBCIM Programme

There is a guide to UNIMARC for those with little or no knowledge of MARC formats For those wishing for more detailed information about the bibliographic or authorities format there are concise versions at
http://archive.ifla.org/VI/3/p1996-1/concise.htm and http://archive.ifla.org/VI/3/p1996-1/ucaf.htm respectively.
These list tags, indicator values, subfields and code values. They describe the bibliographic format as it was in May this year and the authorities format as it was in August last year. The bibliographic format incorporates the changes in Update 2 of the UNIMARC Manual. There are changes in train for the authorities format, some as a result of discussions currently taking place; one such discussion is at this Conference and concerns the Minimal Level Authority Record. Another concerns European Project AUTHOR, which investigated the feasibility of networking national name authority files, examining the appropriateness of the UNIMARC authorities format and the problems of converting existing national name authority files to UNIMARC. When such changes have been made and published in print form they will be reflected in the on-line version.

IFLA UBCIM publishes a series of guidelines on using UNIMARC for various special materials. Guidelines for microforms (no. 2) and Guidelines for rare books (no. 3) have already appeared in the Web. There are plans to post the rest, which includes the Guideline on component parts (no.1).

K. G. Saur, the publishers of the UNIMARC Manual, have given permission for the mounting of the complete manual on the Web. As you may know, the UNIMARC Manual referred to describes the bibliographic format and is the 2nd edition (1994), in loose-leaf format. Section 4: General information, the 0-- fields: Identification Block and the 2-- fields: Descriptive Information Block, have already been posted.
4-- Linking Fields Block and 8-- International Use Block were posted this week.

The 8-- block was posted before the 5--, 6-- and 7-- blocks because of the interest in field 856 Electronic Location and Resources. The 4-- block was posted before the 3-- block; because unfortunately some revised 4-- fields were omitted from the second update.

Except for the correction of minor errors, the on-line versions reflect the printed versions. For example, decisions taken by the Permanent UNIMARC Committee at its annual meeting in March will not result in changes to the on-line documentation. So there will be no reference, for example, to the new UNIMARC Authorities 260, 460, 560 and 760 fields which will record forms of place name.
For the sake of completeness I mention a draft UNIMARC Classification format in a private view, for the use of the UNIMARC Classification Format Working Party, which was formed in 1997 during the 63rd IFLA General Conference to create such a format.
Finally I can add that some of the Web documents are also available for downloading as pdf files, for the use of those using the Adobe Systems' Acrobat Reader.

Cataloguing Web documents using UNIMARC

Fields catering for computer files have been part of the UNIMARC format since the 1987 edition of the UNIMARC Manual. But such fields were marked as provisional and have only recently been amended and added to; this is to take account of the new ISBD(ER) of 1997. This publication, the International Standard Bibliographic Description for Electronic Resources, replace the earlier ISBD(CF) which dealt with computer files. Most of the additions and changes have appeared in the UNIMARC Manual Update no. 2, published in March of this year. One or two items still needed to be discussed and so are not present in that Update.

135 Coded Data Field: Electronic Resources
230 Material Specific Area: Electronic Resource Characteristics
336 Type of Electronic Resource Note
337 System Requirements Note
338 Mode of Access Note (Electronic Resources) (Provisional)
626 Technical Details Access (Computer Files) (Provisional)
856 Electronic Location and Access

135 is a two-character field, the first character coding Type of electronic resource, e.g. 'b' (computer program(s)), the second Special material designation, e.g. 'j' (floppy disk).

230 contains information on the file characteristics pertaining to the type and extent of a electronic resource. It is equivalent to the ISBD(ER) Type and Extent of File Area and has its coded equivalent in field 135.

336 is equivalent to the ISBD(ER) Notes Relating to Type and Extent of Resource Area and Other Resource Characteristics, e.g. "Maximum record size: 2800 bytes".

337 is equivalent to the ISBD(ER) Notes on Systems Requirements, e.g. "System requirements: Philips Interactive compact disc (CD-I) with monitor".

338 would have been used to record the mode of access to remote electronic resources. The field would have been equivalent to the ISBD(ER) Notes Relating to Mode of Access. However, the Permanent UNIMARC Committee decided that such a note could be generated from field 856 and the proposed field was rejected.

626. As it stood, 626 was unsatisfactory. In order to contain all the data required, 626 needed additional subfields for amount of memory required, software requirements and hardware (internal) modifications - the list in ISBD(ER) 7.5.1. gives details. The Permanent UNIMARC Committee decided that field 337 would serve the purpose equally well provided the note used consistent vocabulary and was indexed. This decision was made after Update 2 was printed and so is not reflected in it.

856. A proposed UNIMARC 856 (modelled closely on that of USMARC 856 and including a reference to the soon to be abandoned 338) was posted on the IFLA Web for comment. There were no comments, it was discussed by the Permanent UNIMARC Committee, it was adopted. So the details were removed from the Web and it is now incorporated in the 8-- International Use Block in the Web UNIMARC Manual. As this is a long and complex field I prefer not to go into detail. Very often however the field consists solely of the Web address of the item being catalogued, e.g.
8564# http://ifla.inist.fr/VI/3/p1996-1/uni4.htm for the UNIMARC 4-Block
The use of these fields will be covered in a new Guideline which is still being written. We hope to mount the text on the Web at about the same time that it is published.


I am certain that the format will have to change to accommodate future developments in electronic resources. But I hope, like the authors of ISBD(ER) I suppose, that these will be minor changes rather than major revisions.