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Learning Objectives
• Define MARC record and provide examples.
• Define MARC Bibliographic Record and provide examples.
• Identify the basic functions and tools of authority control.
• Define MARC Authority Record and provide examples.

A MAchine-Readable Cataloging (MARC) record is a type of cataloging record that can be read and interpreted by a computer.

Each record contains fields of metadata, or “data about data” that provide points of access to the item.

The MARC 21 standards include formats for bibliographic records, authority records, classification schedules, and more.

The Bibliographic Framework Initiative (BIBFRAME) is the next generation of MARC. It will provide better ways of handling newer technology.

Try It!
Go to Follett for some examples of MARC records.

Bibliographic Control

A MARC bibliographic record contains the following fields although many more can be included.


Try It!
Explore examples of full RDA Bibliographic Records with MARC21.

Locating MARC Records

While a MARC record is sometimes available to OPAC users as a viewable option on the results page, typically only the basic access points including author, title, publisher, date, and subject(s) are displayed for users.

Browse What is a MARC record from the Library of Congress.

Do a search at Evergreen Indiana. Scroll down the results for an item to find the MARC record.

Go to MARC fields, to see the tags and their matching definitions. Compare this to the MARC record.


Authority Control

Authority control are the procedures used to maintain consistency in records and organize bibliographic information. Each item is assigned a unique heading term such as an author, title, or series.

Effective authority control makes searches more predictable, provides consistency of records, and help researchers locate information efficiently. Many problems arise when catalogs lack consistency.

There’s a need for authority work when variations in author names appear in different publications such as William L. Smith, W.L. Smith, and Bill L. Smith. People get married and change their name or begin using a pseudonym like Dr. Seuss.

Sometimes the title page and book cover titles don’t match exactly.

Try It!
Browse Library of Congress Authorities for lots of examples.

Authority Control & MARC

Authority records don’t represent individual items in the collection like bibliographic records do. Instead, they’re used to achieve consistency in bibliographic records to assist users in finding resources.

An authority record contains standardized forms for a name or a subject called a heading. These records provide authority control. Cross references direct a user from variant forms to the authoritative form of a name or subject. They also contain notes about the headings.

These author and subject entries are controlled forms of the name and subject headings that are contained in separate authority records as access points in the bibliographic record.

The MARC file contains fields including headings, cross references, and notes for the data. For instance, a MARC record would place Stephen King in the heading, Richard Bachman as a cross reference, and a note about the pseudonym in the note area.

Try It!
Explore examples of full RDA Authority Records with MARC21.


A MAchine-Readable Cataloging (MARC) record is a type of cataloging record that can be read and interpreted by a computer.

MARC records are used in both bibliographic and authority control.


| eduscapes | IUPUI Online Courses | Contact Us | 2014 Annette Lamb (Adapted from earlier s401 materials)

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