OLAC Cataloger’s Judgment: Questions and Answers

Newsletter Issue: 
Volume 36, no. 4. December 2016


Rationalizing Aspect Ratios

Question: What should we do with the aspect ratio of a video? Does it belong in field 345, 538, or somewhere else?
Answer: The OLAC Best Practices for Cataloging DVD-Video and Blu-ray Discs Using RDA and MARC21 document (http://olacinc.org/sites/capc_files/DVD_RDA_Guide.pdf) deals with Aspect Ratio (RDA 7.19) on pages 146-148, designating field 500 for that information. RDA presents the controlled terms as “full screen” and “wide screen” (with each as a two-word phrase). In, it also allows for recording the aspect ratio “as a numerical ratio in standard format with a denominator of 1.” According to, you may also include other details such as “pan-and-scan” or “letterboxed.” RDA 3.17 is literally entitled “Projection Characteristic of Motion Picture Film,” which, strictly speaking, should preclude its application to video (as opposed to film). Throughout the text of 3.17, “motion picture film” is the phrase used and most of the characteristics discussed meaningfully apply only to the medium of film (with “3D” in as the most obvious exception). Field 345, which is intended to correspond to RDA 3.17, fudges things with its broader name “Projection Characteristics of Moving Image” and definition. In my videorecording cataloging workshops and in CAPC, I’ve been pointing out these and related logical inconsistencies in RDA and MARC’s treatments of moving images for several years now. And as we were working on the OLAC Best Practices, we discussed all of this as well. I’m hoping that eventually, CAPC will come up with proposals to rationalize some of this by suggesting changes to both RDA and MARC and to assign a logical and specific place in MARC for aspect ratio that will make sense in a Linked Data world. So, although “presentation format” has often been considered to include the aspect ratio of a moving image, aspect ratio designations should not be recorded in 345 subfield $a nor in field 538, but in field 500 and/or in field 250, in cases where the information has been presented as an edition statement.


The Definition of Moving Image in Motion

Question: I’m cataloging a four-DVD set of three operas (one of the operas requires two discs) with a single bibliographic record. It’s titled Best wishes from Cecilia Bartoli. All three of the operas are listed as having different sound and video characteristics. I know the 344 and 345 are repeatable, but I don’t see a way to say what characteristics are associated with each of the operas. Do I just throw the information out there and let the patrons sort it out if they need to, like this?
344 digital ǂb optical ǂg stereo ǂ2 rda
344 digital ǂb optical ǂg surround ǂh Dolby Digital 5.1 ǂ2 rda
344 digital ǂb optical ǂg stereo ǂh Dolby Digital 5.1 ǂ2 rda
345 wide screen ǂb 24 fps ǂ2 rda
345 fullscreen ǂb 24 fps ǂ2 rda
538 Disc characteristics: DVD-9 and DVD-5.
I guess I could write a long note explaining it all, but the vast majority of patrons wouldn’t care.
Answer: This is precisely what the subfield $3 is designed for, and it’s valid in fields 344, 345, and 538. Depending upon how you’d like to express it and how the set divides the three operas up, you could create subfields $3 along any of these lines:
344 ǂ3 [Title of opera 1]: ǂa digital ǂb optical ǂg stereo ǂ2 rda
344 ǂ3 [Discs 1 and 2]: ǂa digital ǂb optical ǂg surround ǂh Dolby Digital 5.1 ǂ2 rda
344 ǂ3 [Title of opera 1 (discs 1 and 2)]: ǂa digital ǂb optical ǂg stereo ǂh Dolby Digital 5.1 ǂ2 rda
Depending also upon what your local system does with fields 344 and 345 in particular, you may additionally want to explain things in a note. Depending even further upon your bibliographic taste, what you believe will be most clear and useful to your users, and how you are formulating the record, you could include that pertinent information in one or more 538s, 500s, or even in a 505:
505 00 $t [Title of opera 1] / $r [Composer] $g (Dolby Digital 5.1 surround) -- $t ….
Concerning the 345 fields, contrary to the examples that previously appeared in BFAS (and which have been revised along with the text), “widescreen” and “fullscreen” designations do not belong in field 345. (See the “Aspect Ratio (RDA 7.19)” section of the OLAC Best Practices for Cataloging DVD-Video and Blu-ray Discs Using RDA and MARC21, pages 146-148. You will actually find field 345 mentioned nowhere in the DVD/Blu-ray Best Practices document.) It is RDA 3.17, “Projection Characteristic of Motion Picture Film,” that corresponds to field 345, which has been misleadingly titled “Projection Characteristics of Moving Image.” The instruction in RDA is explicitly limited to film, per se, and to film projection; it does not apply to video. (Page 108 of the OLAC Best Practices document spells this out: “Projection characteristic of motion picture film applies only to actual motion picture film. This element does not apply to DVD or Blu-ray Discs.”) Aspect ratio should be expressed in a 500 note and/or in an edition statement in 250, if that is appropriate. In your case, those designations could also be part of the parenthetical 505 information. RDA has the controlled list of “Presentation Format” terms that may be used in field 345 subfield $a. It also says that “If none of the terms in the list is appropriate or sufficiently specific, use another concise term or terms to indicate the presentation format.” Aspect ratio, however, is accounted for in RDA 7.19; there is no MARC field explicitly defined for this. I’m not at all saying that this is sensible; it is one of a series of related and somewhat-related lapses of logic regarding audiovisual and electronic materials currently built into RDA and as a result built into MARC. Both Presentation Format (RDA 3.17.2 and field 345 subfield $a) and Projection Speed (RDA 3.17.3, and field 345 subfield $b) apply properly only to motion picture film.

A Lost Generation

Question: I ran into the phrase “No display constant generated” in field 521 as a First Indicator “8” but I have also seen it elsewhere and I cannot figure out what it means. I could not find it in the OCLC glossary. I hope you will be able to enlighten me.
Answer: OCLC's Bibliographic Formats and Standards is undergoing an extensive revision and, unfortunately, we haven't gotten around to the 5XX introduction page, so the information there is a bit out of date. But if you look at the "Display Constants" section on that page, you'll find an explanation. A display (or print) constant is a standardized introductory word or phrase that the system supplies to precede the text of the note. These standard display constants have historically been called for in certain cataloging codes in some instances, either explicitly or implicitly. (See, for example, AACR2 1.7B18 and the corresponding rules in later chapters for the display constants suggested for Contents Notes in field 505.) Catalog card printing ended on October 1, 2015, as you may have heard, so the generation of display/print constants no longer applies to cards. Many local systems, however, have long used the various indicators that generate display constants to supply the introductory text appropriate to the field and indicator. In the case of field 521, the First Indicator may generate the display constant that corresponds to the indicator (“blank” for "Audience:", “0” for "Reading grade level:" and so on) preceding the text of the note. Using the First Indicator value “8” in field 521 would mean that no display constant would be provided, suggesting that the text of the note proper is able to stand on its own without an introduction.


006s of Wagnerian Proportions

Question: I’m looking at a 17-disc set concerning Wagner’s Ring cycle. The first 14 CDs are the operas. Discs 15-16 are a spoken word recording, namely Deryck Cooke spending 2 1/2 hours untangling aspects of the opera cycle, largely a discussion of the major leitmotifs and their transformations and use in the operas. (Your hear lots of 2- to 8-measure bits of the operas.) I’m thinking I should include field 006 for the spoken recording, since the 008 is for the musical recording. I’d have a Type “i”, but all the rest of it would be blank or not applicable, except for LTxt, which would be “l” (el) for lectures/speeches. Does it make sense to do this 006? I guess I’ve never thought about this before. I have accounted for it in 336. That’s just the warm-up question. My real problem is Disc 17. It is a self-proclaimed CD-ROM and contains five PDF files. Four are the librettos (in German with English and French translations). The fifth is a transcript of what is spoken on Discs 15-16, i.e., Deryck Cooke’s talk on the leitmotifs, with the audio bits of the opera represented by notation on 1 or 2 staves. Well, well, well … my computer disc contains mostly text. I’ve run into this before and in doing 006, have always chosen Type “m”, Computer File; Form “q”, Direct Electronic; and File “d”, Document. Today, for some reason, I carefully read the definition of Type “m”: “Digital material consisting of … [and a whole list of things.]”, but text is not mentioned. Meanwhile, up at Type “a”, I see that it covers “published textual electronic resources.” Hey, I should have been coding Type for the content (text), not the carrier (computer disc). Is that right? I also note up nearer the top of the page, under Special Guidelines, there is Electronic Resource: “Determine the form of content of the resource and code for that aspect.” Text is my content. (Yes, I have accounted for the CD-ROM in 33x and 347.) Thus 006 of Type “a”, Form “q”, File “d”. Is that correct? And I just noticed that if I try to insert 006 for a computer file and change Type to “a”, I get an error message, “Please enter a valid Type for this field.” Now what?

Answer: Regarding the CD-ROM with textual PDFs, were you to catalog it separately, the Type and 008 would reflect its textuality (Type “a”) and the 006 would be for the electronic aspects (Type “m”, Form “q”, File “d”). Because it’s part of this much larger resource (accompanying material-ish), two more 006 fields are appropriate, one for the textual content (Type “a”) and the other for the electronic aspects, as you’ve noted. You’ll also want to make all of this clear, with any system requirements, in notes, as appropriate. To answer your error message question, actually, you can leave the computer file 006 but also add another for Type “a”. Sounds as though you’ll end up with three 006 fields: Types “i”, “a”, and “m”.