According to a serials librarian I know you if you catalog serials you need to know the MARC 21 Format for Holdings Data. The online publication provides access to descriptions of “every data element, along with examples”.



Catalogers working with music materials will want to be current with the Music Library Association’s Best Practices for Music Cataloging Using RDA and MARC21. Since February of last year, this document has been integrated with the RDA Toolkit (under the Resources tab).  You need not be logged on to the Toolkit to access Best Practices, but the links to RDA instructions will not work unless you are.

If you want to consult a more traditionally formatted document, the old website of the former Bibliographic Control Committee of the Music Library Association has links to PDF files of Version 1.1 (the final version issued as a complete stand-alone PDF file), a list of changes between versions 1.01 and 1.1, and Supplements to Best Practices for Music Cataloging Using RDA and MARC21, version 1.5, 12 April 2016 (this last document is also available at the current website of MLA’s Cataloging and Metadata Committee).  Be aware, of course, that the Toolkit-integrated document will presumably be more up to date.

Walt Nickerson has recently published updated versions of his four macro books:

Walt’s Macros

The long list is in alphabetical order, so look in the middle for M: Macro book: Essentials; Macro Book: Extras1; Macro Book: Extras2; and Macro Book: MacroTools.  There is also, right above these, a handy list of all the macros in the four books, “Macro book listing.”

Terry Reese announced new additions to MarcEdit on April 30. He has added a new tool, UNIMARC Tools, for moving data between MARC21 and UNIMARC, and a new option has been added to the Replace function.

Update on MarcEdit:  Terry has just (as of today, May 13) announced that he plans a few more updates for the weekend.  If you use MarcEdit and want to be up to date, it would be a good idea to subscribe to his list, MARCEDIT-L (


From the Illinois Library Assocation’s 2012 Annual Conference, Peoria, October 9:

Fantastic (and Free!) Cataloging Tools, presented by Erica Laughlin, RSA Cataloging and Database Administrator, Resource Sharing Alliance NFP:


A wealth of useful resources here, including DDC tools, converters and calculators, RDA resources, many more.

Wait a Minute, How Many Months?: Getting Ready Now that RDA Is Almost Here:

Wait a Minute, How Many Months 2012-10-17 (PPT)

Wait a Minute, How Many Months 2012-10-17 (PDF)

Some RDA Training Resources 2012-10-11

I have saved my presentation as both PPT so you can see the notes, and PDF in case you have trouble viewing the PPT.

Both Erica and I added a little extra information based on the discussion at our presentations.

Lynne over at Cataloging Aids has created a nice summary of the correct order of subfields for the 245 Marc tag.

The MARC Standards Home Page is not going to win any awards for snappy Web design. Bookmark it anyway. It provides numerous links to primary MARC resources, including:

MARC Formats

Bibliographic, Authority, Holdings, Classification, and Community Information (each of these in full and concise versions); Translations and adaptations, plus MARC 21 Translators’ Tools for those doing translations of MARC documentation; and even a MARC LITE Bibliographic Format, “a true subset of the data elements in the complete MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data” designed as “a quick reference guide to tagging.”

Even if your daily use of MARC is in the context of OCLC, my opinion is that you really should know your way around MARC 21, or at least be able to find data elements in their MARC 21 form. Otherwise you’ll be floundering when examining a MARC record from a source other than OCLC, or when setting or troubleshooting specifications for import into a local system.

MARC Code Lists

Geographic Areas
Relators, Sources, Description Conventions

(I’ve mentioned these in connection with OCLC, which no longer maintains separate lists but links to these.)

… and much more. I might just make particular mention of two useful introductory documents, Understanding MARC Bibliographic and Understanding MARC Authority Records.