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RDA is starting to impinge on things October 13, 2012

Posted by Mia in CLUES/WebPAC, Resource Description and Access.

A new MARC field snuck up on me — the 264.  The problem with this field is that it was only invented in 2011 to handle new RDA rules for interpreting imprint information that can’t be accomodated by the existing 260.  Quoting from MARC bibliographic (emphasis mine):

Information in field 264 is similar to information in field 260 (Publication, Distribution, etc. (Imprint)). Field 264 is useful for cases where the content standard or institutional policies make a distinction between functions


Huh? A field [for handling imprint], which is similar to an already existing field [which handles imprint], only different?  This ‘definition’ really eludes me, I must admit, but I’ll leave it to others to interpret.

Records started arriving with a 264 indicator 1, not a 260, so naturally no imprint information was displaying to the public.  Rules for handling the import and display of the 260 (like on webpub.def) didn’t include the 264 because the field hadn’t existed previously.  None of our MARC load tables knew about this field.

I’m surprised that this field came in under the radar.  I am wondering how much relevance rules that may look at the — guess what? — 260|c field need to be modified.  I can’t see how that can be avoided.

And why this change now, when the MARC format is on its way out?  The whole thing particularly mystifies me, since many of the date complexities are only applicable to physical entities — entities which are a diminishing proportion of our collection.