Identifying Suitable MARC Records

About MARC Records

MARC stands for "MAchine Readable Catalog" and refers to the standard that translates a bibliographic record (created using AACR2 [Anglo-American Catalog Rules, 2nd. ed.] or RDA [Resources Description and Access] rules!) into a format that can be processed by computers. MARC is one of the reasons why we have online catalogs that we can search. Each piece of item data is placed into a specific field - indicated by a three-digit number, or subfield - indicated by a symbol and a letter.

It is important to understand enough about the MARC format and codes to understand what we are seeing when we look at a catalog record, and, when adding new records to the database, to match the items we have in hand to catalog records.

This page outlines the key MARC fields with brief notes about what pieces of information can be in the same record and which cannot. For more detailed information about adding an item to a MARC record that does not exactly match the item in hand, see: Evergreen.HoldingsCloseEnoughRecords.


Fields to verify in MARC records for books:
  • 020 - ISBN
    • Multiple ISBNs are acceptable on a catalog record when multiple binding types - hardcover, paperback, turtleback, library binding, etc. - are combined
  • 100 - Personal author
    • A single person; additional authors are listed in a 700 field
  • 245 - Title
    • Can include author, names of illustrator, author of introduction, foreword, preface, etc.
  • 250 - Edition
    • identifies edition number, format (large print, audio)
    • Different editions and formats should go on separate records. e.g. "Third Edition" and "Fourth Edition" have separate records. Large print, abridged, unabridged, must have separate records
  • 300 Physical description:
    • identifies number of pages - may vary
    • identifies number of centimeters (cm) - may vary
    • Illustrations - should not vary, a separate catalog record is required for a different illustrator
Sample book MARC record:
MARC Example Book.png

Children's books

Children's books are often published in library binding, trade binding, paperback, and reinforced paperback. They have different ISBNs. All should be on the regular print edition catalog record.

Paperback books

Paperback copies should be on the regular print edition record, unless there is significant change in content. Revised edition, new introduction or preface, new illustrations require new catalog records.

Audio Books

Match on:
  • 028 Distributor or product code
    • may vary from the catalog record
  • 245 Title
  • 250 Edition
    • either abridged or unabridged Very important that this is in the record. A separate catalog record is needed for abridged editions.
  • 300 Physical Description
    • running time - may vary (due to recording speed)
    • number of items - may vary (due to running time/recording speed)
  • 300 Format
    • CD, MP3-CD - separate records are needed for different formats
  • 500 Note
    • unabridged
    • abridged
  • 511 Narrator
    • "Read by George Guidall" - cannot vary, different narrators require separate records
Sample audio book MARC record:
MARC Example Audiobook.png

Large Print Books

Match on:
  • 100 Author
  • 245 Title
  • 250 Edition
    • Should say “Large print edition”
  • 264 Production, Publication, Distribution, Manufacture, and Copyright Notice
    • may vary
  • 300 Number of pages
    • may vary
  • 6XX Subject heading
    • Should say "Large type books."
Sample large print book MARC record:
MARC Example Book Largeprint.png


Match on:
  • 245 Title
    • content might include director, actors, producer, production company, screenwriter
  • 250 Edition
    • widescreen DVD
    • full screen DVD
    • Widescreen and Full screen should be on separate records
  • 300 Physical description
    • format (VHS or DVD)
    • number of cassettes or discs
    • running time
  • 500 General note
    • may have product type – VHS or widescreen DVD or fullscreen DVD
  • 508 or 511 Performers or Credits
Summaries, rating information, notes on dubbing or subtitles are all good to have included in a record. Contact a cataloger at to have this information added.

Sample videorecording MARC record:
MARC Example Video.png


Match on:
  • 245 Title
  • 250 Edition
    • Typically game system: Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo DS, Play Station, Play Station 2, Xbox, etc.
  • 300 Physical Description
    • Ex.: Computer optical disc, CD-ROM, etc.
  • 538 System Details Note
    • System requirements: type of game system, computer processor speed, etc.
Sample of a videogame MARC record:
MARC Example Videogame.png
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