Use this section in conjunction with the following sources:
- MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data: 008: Computer Files, See 008/26: Type of computer file (006/09)
- Bibliographic Formats and Standards / OCLC: Type: See Type of Record: Electronic Resources and File: Type of Computer File
- Cataloging Electronic Resources: OCLC-MARC Coding Guidelines
- RDA Toolkit: Section 6.9: Content Type: Table 6.1 [Content Type Terms]
This article is intended to serve as a caveat to catalogers for some unique and sometimes difficult decision-making. This article does not comprise GPO-specific guidelines, but, rather, covers MARC/OCLC instructions that:
- are historically not well-understood for a subset of electronic resources, and
- do not map easily to RDA.
Although the phrase, computer file, is not represented per se in RDA, it is represented in OCLC and MARC 21 documentation that present guidance for treatment of electronic resources. Although OCLC and MARC 21 instruct that many electronic resources are treated for “the significant aspect of the content,” e.g., “language material, graphic material, cartographic material, sound, moving image, etc.,” there are four general classes of materials that are treated preferentially as computer files and thus allocated their own workform for which Type (Leader/06) is coded “m.” Resources that should be coded and described as computer files are:
- Computer software
- Numeric data
- Computer-oriented multimedia [a.k.a. Interactive multimedia]
- Online systems and services
OCLC provides definitions of each of these four computer file types.
The challenge for the cataloger is that there exists no one-to-one correspondence of the computer file types defined by MARC 21/OCLC and RDA content types. (Cf. the RDA Toolkit’s Table 6.1 for content type terms. ) When the cataloger is describing an OCLC/MARC 21 computer file, then s/he must select corollary RDA terms from its content type list to populate the RDA Content Type field (MARC 336) in the MARC record. For example, OCLC/MARC 21’s “computer software” would translate to RDA’s “computer program.” OCLC/MARC 21’s “numeric data” likely would translate to RDA’s “computer dataset” or “cartographic dataset.” For an interactive video game, OCLC/MARC 21’s “computer-oriented multimedia” might translate to a combination of such RDA content type terms as “computer program” and “two-dimensional moving image” and “sounds,” or any other combination necessary to describe all aspects of the work.
It is possible that as MARC 21 and OCLC are phased out in favor of a new bibliographic framework that is more accommodating to RDA, “computer file” treatment in the bibliographic utility will cease to require catalogers’ attention. In the interim, it is contingent upon catalogers to reconcile the different approaches described above.
One common procedure to convert records that originally were cataloged as computer files prior to a common understanding of the format’s restrictions is described in detail below.
Procedures to Convert Type "M" (Computer File) Records to Type "A" (Language Material) Records
Older electronic resource records that catalogers find when searching for copy may be coded Type (Leader/06) “m.” At the time these records were created, this was an appropriate Type code, but this code is now only used for computer software, numeric data, computer-oriented multimedia, and online systems or services. The type code must be changed to describe the significant aspect of the resource, usually “a” for “language material.” Other, less common possibilities are: “g”—projected medium, “k”--two-dimensional nonprojectable graphic, “e”—cartographic material, or “o”—kit. All these codes, however, are dependent on the higher level Format of the record. Depending on the specific Format for the record, only certain codes in the “Type (Leader/06)” fixed field are allowed. (OCLC Bibliographic Formats and Standards, describes the relationship between Format and Type, and BLvl: Bibliographic Level. Alternatively, simply click on the hyperlinked fixed field label “Type” within any OCLC record.) Therefore, the first step to take in changing the Type code of a record is to change the Format.
Catalogers should attempt to change the record format, and replace the record in OCLC, if possible. In OCLC, this is done by going to the drop down box at the top left of the record, just below the OCLC number. Change the format from “Computer Files” by selecting either “Books,” “Continuing Resources,” “Maps,” “Visual Materials,” or one of the other formats available from this drop down menu.
Next, enter the appropriate values for the fixed fields Type (Leader/06) and BLvl: Bibliographic Level (Leader/07). Type (Leader/06) must be changed to describe the significant aspect of the resource, usually “a” for “language material. The codes for Bibliographic Level (Leader/07) will usually be “m” for monographs, and either “s” or “i” for continuing resources. The code “c” is used by GPO for collection-level records. Much rarer are the codes “a” and “b.”
Finally, fill in any other basic, mandatory requirements for that format, especially the fixed fields, including DtSt (008/06) and both Dates fields (008/07-14). At this time, do not change the ELvl: Encoding Level (Leader 17). After making these basic changes, attempt to validate or replace the record in OCLC. Carefully read any error messages that appear if the validation or replacement fails. Some of these error messages may describe incompatibilities between various codes in various fields. Remediate all errors within your capability. If validation is successful, replace the record. If you successfully replace the record, then, as a secondary step, make all the other changes warranted for the update, including upgrading the ELvl: Encoding Level (Leader/17), if possible. Never change the fixed fields ELvl Encoding Level or Srce: Cataloging Source (008/39) if already blank. If the system says you are not authorized to upgrade the ELvl or add an 042 field, you may contact OCLC as described below.
If OCLC does not allow you to replace the record (the error message will usually contain the phrase “Not authorized to replace”), then you should email the record to OCLC at [email protected] , asking them to change the record’s format. This may also be done from within the record on OCLC, by selecting “Report Error” from the Action drop down menu. Using either this method or email, provide the OCLC number of the record, and the Format (from within the drop down menu that currently has “Computer Files”) that you wish the record to be changed to. This format will usually be Books or Continuing Resources, though it may also be Maps or Visual Materials.
If desired, you may go ahead and make all needed changes to the record, both the basic, mandatory and secondary changes, including the Encoding Level, and save these in the online save file. Then, in your message to OCLC, mention that they can either simply change the format of the record, or alternatively, they may replace the record with your save file number (include this number) in GPO’s online save file. OCLC can access this. If you do not hear back from OCLC within four days or so, check back on the OCLC master record, as they may have made the change without notifying you.