How to Understand a MARC Record, Part 1


This section contains a number of examples of cataloging in several different formats. All of the cataloging records below were copied from the MARC database found at the Library of Congress web site, Some of the records were adjusted or shortened for ease of viewing.


In understanding how MARC works, it is helpful to look at the information in various cataloging records, and compare how they look in an average computer display and how the same record looks in a MARC display. Below is a record displayed in a commonly seen computer display.


Author: Palin, Michael.

Title: Full circle : a Pacific journey / with Michael


Published: New York : St. Martin's Press, 1997.

Description: p. cm.

Dewey No.: 919.04 21

ISBN: 0312169604

Subjects: Pacific Area -- Description and travel.

Palin, Michael -- Journeys -- Pacific Area.


This cataloging record was done before the book was published. It is possible to determine this because the number of pages and the size of the book are not entered in the description area. Many times publishers send pre-publication proofs to the Library of Congress, so that the final book can have the CIP on the back of the title page. Library of Congress does as much of the cataloging as they can, and the library copying the cataloging will have to enter the rest of the information in their record as they create it. Other indications that this record was created before the book was published are the lack of information about illustrations and the lack of notes. Again, the cataloger who is using this record will have to enter in the necessary information.


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