Friday, December 11, 2009

The Difference Between MARC and AACR2

Providing straight answers to some FAQs that lead people to my blog...

Quick and Dirty answer:

AACR2 is a way to write out information so people everywhere can understand what you are describing.
MARC is a way to write out information so you can transfer it to a computer database.

Read on, if you like!

AACR2 (Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd revision) is a standardized way to describe an item for categorizing and cataloging purposes.  You have a choice of words, and you use those so everyone else knows what you are talking about.  There is a standardized way of writing it with punctuation.  (I'm sure someone else could tell you why, probably for the same reason, so all catalog records look the same.)  AACR2 helps you figure out what you need to know about an item to describe and categorize it well enough so that other people can find it.  Finding things is very, very important.  I know that sounds like I'm oversimplifying it, you aren't an idiot.  But really: spelling and controlled vocabulary and access points (the first thing you type in to get you to that record) make or break our mission.  You follow the rules and then write it in the ISBD format (International Standard Book Description) An AACR2 record looks like this: 

Title proper = parallel title : other title information / first statement of responsibility ; each subsequent statement of responsibility. - Edition statement / statement of responsibility relating to the edition. - Place of publication : publisher, date of publication.-Pagination : illustration ; dimensions + accompanying material. - (Series)

Joe likes eggs = Jose se gusta los huevos : this is not a yolk / Ferdinand, Franz ; Norton, Edward. - Second edition / with introduction by The Egg Board of Alabama. - Hot Coffee : Chicken Printers Unlimited, 2009. -344 p. : ill. ; 30 cm. - (Alabaman Animal Product Propaganda Society Book Series)
Censorship rating : Material may not be suitable for vegetarians.
ISBN : 9780231676221
MARC21 is absolutely nothing like AACR2.  It's like HTML for catalog records.  It's a transfer format.  It's a computer language, but only for libraries. You stick certain information that you created using the AACR2 (or another set of rules) into these database-boxes (there are even MARC wizards, you just plug what you know in and poof!) and feed it to the computer and the computer spits out what was in your original record, but in a manner that other library computers can read.  Basically.

MARC is ONLY in libraries.  AACR2 is used in other places.  The old card catalog cards? The typewritten ones?  They didn't use MARC.

For me, MARC doesn't provide enough ways for me to create access points for realia records.  There's no author or publisher or edition when it comes to a blade of grass.  You have to stick it all in the 500s, the notes.

Our MARC record:
(lots of numbers and letters and ##s and stuff at the beginning usually generated by your computer program so you don't have to worry about it)
020##$a9780231676221 :$c$5.00
1001#Ferdinand, Franz.
1001#Norton, Edward.
24510$aJoe likes eggs = Jose se gusta los huevos : $bthis is not a yolk  
250##$a2nd edition / with introduction by The Egg Board of Alabama.
260##$aHot Coffee, AL:$bChicken Printers Unlimited,$c2009
300##$a344 p. :$bill. ; $c30 cm.
490##$aAlabaman Animal Product Propaganda Society Book Series.
500##Censorship rating : Material may not be suitable for vegetarians.

Keep in mind that only do library school students have to type this all out: a program will do it for you (for the most part) (unless you like this).
Recommended titles:
-Learn Descriptive Book Cataloging, Mary Mortimer. 
The AACR2 itself.  You can look at mine.

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