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To Bangkok Conference programme

65th IFLA Council and General

Bangkok, Thailand,
August 20 - August 28, 1999

Code Number: 100-155(WS)-E
Division Number: IV
Professional Group: Cataloguing: Workshop
Joint Meeting with: -
Meeting Number: 155
Simultaneous Interpretation:   No

UNIMARC : what solutions for multilingual / multiscript cataloguing ?

Elisabeth Freyre & Françoise Bourdon
Bibliothèque nationale de France
Paris, France


The following themes will be approached during the meeting :

1. Problematic

Generally ISBDs recommend a given national bibliographic agency to use only one cataloguing language and/or one cataloguing script.

But some countries have several official languages and/or official scripts : in this case what language and/or what script must be chosen by the national bibliographic agency ?

National cataloguing rules offer different solutions. Sometimes it is necessary to manage in the same time catalogues in different languages and/or in different scripts.

Or now it is possible (easy ?) to re-use records from different bibliographic pools each of them having their own language and/or their own script, or to re-use records from a same one bibliographic pool containing records in different languages and/or in different scripts.

Have we to stick to one catalogue = one language = one script ?

Is it possible to manage within a same one catalogue records in different languages and/or in different scripts ?

2. What are the existing means to solve problems ?

Standardization and technology have evolved :

  • elaboration of ISO standards devoted to transcription and to transliteration : they are mentioned in ISBDs, they aim at being reversible (see also other initiatives : ALA/LC romanization tables, etc.)

  • evolution of data processing techniques which have made possible the evolution of character encoding (on 32 bits now) and the elaboration of UNICODE (became ISO 10646).

Consequence : today standards and technology make possible to manage

  • a record in one language being written in different scripts

  • a record in different languages being written in the same one script

  • a record in different languages being written in different scripts

Management of records in different languages and/or different scripts is made possible by the technique.

How UNIMARC contribute to manage such records ?

3.UNIMARC and cataloguing in different languages and/or different scripts

Parallel fields or parallel records ?

Is it better to create parallel fields for different languages/scripts or to create parallel records for each language/script and to link them ?

Coded data fields

Good point :

  • coded data fields exist, allow to sort records, and more, data can be decoded in the language and script wanted by the end-user of the records (to display in OPAC for example) : language codes, script codes, $7, $8

Possible amendments :

  • it could be necessary to precise definition and use of "language code" and "script code" in UNIMARC / Authorities and in UNIMARC Manual Bibliographic Format : do they concern the authority heading including qualifiers in an authority record ? title proper in a bibliographic record ? notes in both authority and bibliographic records ?

  • it could be useful to define alphabetic values of coded data in non-latin characters ? This concerns Language and Country Codes (managed by ISO), Type of record, Type of document (managed by IFLA for UNIMARC), This problem seems to be common to all formats.

  • it could be necessary to create a code to define the language corresponding with the cataloguing script when we use UNICODE : we could either create a code for cataloguing language, or allow the use of $7 in all fields where it appears useful.

Link fields

Links between authority file and bibliographic file :

How to manage links between authority records and bibliographic records within the same one catalogue when it exists, for the same entity and/or for the same document, parallel fields or parallel records in different languages and/or different scripts ?

Links within an authority file or within a bibliographic file :

How to manage links within a same catalogue between parallel authority records and between parallel bibliographic records ?< p> How to take advantage of these links to facilitate the search in the OPAC ?


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