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Commonly Used MARC Elements

One of the research goals of the project, to provide empirical evidence to document MARC21 content designation use by catalogers, has been partially met by the objective of conducting frequency counts of all fields and subfields used in the OCLC WorldCat database. Another research objective is to identify commonly used elements in bibliographic records based on the analysis of format-specific record sets and comparing these elements with existing recommendations by Library of Congress agencies for national level, core level, and minimal level records.

In support of the research goals, we carried out a set of analyses to address the following research questions: What are the sets of commonly used elements per format, and how do these compare with the elements prescribed in current national, core, and minimal level recommendations or guidelines for cataloging? Conversely, are there elements which are frequently used by catalogers but are not prescribed in current national, core, and minimal level recommendations or guidelines for cataloging?

We first analyzed and compared the utilization of MARC content designation in the MCDU dataset with two bibliographic record standards, Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) BIBCO Core Record Standards, and CONSER Record Standards. We then analyzed and compared the utilization with National and Minimal Level Requirements for Bibliographic Records. The methodology and reports of the analysis are linked below. In addition, we provide the spreadsheet file used in the comparison of MCDU utilization with the National and Minimal Level Requirements for Bibliographic Records. The first worksheet in the file gives instructions on use of the spreadsheet and its embedded filters.

Finally, we identified the most commonly occurring elements, or those that occur within a defined threshold, in the MCDU dataset. These commonly occurring elements are given context by comparing them with the National and Minimal Level Bibliographic Record Requirements, and the Program for Cooperative Cataloging’s (PCC) BIBCO Core Record Standards and CONSER Record Requirements for Full, Minimal and Core Level Records for Serials.

Through this comparison of recommendations of elements with actual usage of elements by catalogers, we hope the results can illuminate the intersection of standards and practice in cataloging, and to inform future development of standards.

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