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The world of deep metadata for your books: LCCN, PCIP, MARC, ISNI, ISTC, OCLC, and more-3

Posted in Just for Writers, and Publishing


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MARC – MAchine-Readable Cataloguing

This is a standard for a digital version of the information carried in a CIP or PCIP block — and more.

Here's a MARC record for one of my books, from my local library. Easier to show than to tell.

This is how it looks in the library's internal catalogue. The MARC specification goes on forever with all sorts of optional fields, and when it gets passed along to Worldcat (see OCLC below) a lot more had been added to the “Linked Data” XML record they maintain, with a great deal of additional info..

It's easier to show you most of this data in XML format, for the book mentioned above, than to attempt to explain the details. This comes from the Linked Detail section at the bottom of a book record in Worldcat. Here the data has been amplified and cross-referenced, as part of a general internet initiative to connect isolated sets of domain expertise into larger supersets.

Primary Entity

<http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/814529418> # To carry the horn : the hounds of Annwn : 1
a schema:Book, schema:CreativeWork ;
library:oclcnum “814529418” ;
library:placeOfPublication <http://id.loc.gov/vocabulary/countries/vau> ;
library:placeOfPublication <http://experiment.worldcat.org/entity/work/data/1413542221#Place/hume_va> ; # Hume, Va.
schema:about <http://id.worldcat.org/fast/933467> ; # Fox hunting
schema:about <http://dewey.info/class/813.6/e23/> ;
schema:about <http://experiment.worldcat.org/entity/work/data/1413542221#Topic/fox_hunting> ; # Fox hunting
schema:bookEdition “1st ed.” ;
schema:bookFormat bgn:PrintBook ;
schema:creator <http://viaf.org/viaf/56058221> ; # Karen Myers
schema:datePublished “2012” ;
schema:exampleOfWork <http://worldcat.org/entity/work/id/1413542221> ;
schema:genreFiction“@en ;
schema:genreFantasy fiction“@en ;
schema:inLanguage “en” ;
schema:isPartOf <http://experiment.worldcat.org/entity/work/data/1413542221#Series/hounds_of_annwn> ; # Hounds of Annwn ;
schema:nameTo carry the horn : the hounds of Annwn : 1“@en ;
schema:productID “814529418” ;
schema:publication <http://www.worldcat.org/title/-/oclc/814529418#PublicationEvent/hume_va_perkunas_press_2012> ;
schema:publisher <http://experiment.worldcat.org/entity/work/data/1413542221#Agent/perkunas_press> ; # Perkunas Press
schema:workExample <http://worldcat.org/isbn/9780963538406> ;
wdrs:describedby <http://www.worldcat.org/title/-/oclc/814529418> ;
.

Who uses MARC records and associated XML records? Libraries do. Anyone can use a MARC record (I suspect that Ingram does for its Ipage product above, for example), but it's primarily for libraries.

When a library receives a book, it typically looks on a repository like Worldcat (see OCLC below) to see if some other library has already created a MARC record for that book (in that format — the MARC record is specific to print, ebook, audiobook, etc.) If it finds such a record, it may duplicate it or modify it for its own intra-library catalogue.

If the MARC record isn't there already, the library can create one and populate the repository with it so that other libraries later on can benefit.

In theory, every trained librarian can create a MARC record. In practice… I recently donated books to 3 branches of my local library system only to discover that all 3 branches created separate and contradictory records, with errors and typos, until my 9 donated books ended up with 19 records (and two different versions of the author) in their internal regional library system. That was bad enough, but then those poor records began to make their way into the Worldcat repository. Only those same libraries can correct the records (and they're working on it now that I've explained the ramifications).

We can't make the records — we're not authorized. We can't add data to Worldcat — only libraries and a few others can.

As for the CIP / PCIP block above, there are 3rd parties who make MARC records for publishers and place them on Worldcat, FiveRainbows being one. For a fee.

So, on the one hand libraries will do it for you for free (Overdrive, for example is good for this), but on the other hand you're stuck with whatever errors they create. If you want to control the process and create the MARC record proactively via a 3rd party who can also produce the PCIP block, then you have that option.

There's interesting information in the XML record.

  • The official Worldcat (OCLC) number: 814529418.
  • The VIAF number for the author: 56058221. VIAF (Virtual International Authority File) is a way of uniquely identifying an author or other contributor. It is different from ISNI (see below), but you can see that my ISNI number is included as a cross-reference.
  • The Worldcat Entity id: 1413542221 which seeks to identify the common work with its multiple formats, similar to how the ITSC works (see below). It also includes a “creator” person id which is not the VIAF id, though if you scroll to the bottom of that link, you will find matching cross-reference links to the VIAF number and the ISNI, as well as to the Library of Congress name authority from the LCCN section above.
  • Lots of other useful tidbits.

To see more of the XML record in context, go here, and scroll down, and click on Linked Data. You'll find it educational.

Part of what you see with all the cross-referencing is that there are lots of standards kicking around — some international, some parochial, and some experimental. Libraries have been handling bibliographic information for quite a long time.

I don't know how the cross-referencing is done in detail — for example, how did they look up my ISNI number which is not in the MARC record or the CIP block? I've read of automated cross-referencing programs and lots of backoffice attention to the exceptions those programs kick out, but there must be quite a bit of dirty data scattered among the automatable clean records.


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