I received a question regarding a software library I have created and released as open source.  The record length in the leader ( positions 0-4 ) was not being calculated correctly when writing as MarcXML.  However, this raises a more philosophical and larger question.  What is the point of the first five digits of the leader, outside of a ISO2709 / MARC21 encoded record?   Should I calculate the record length AS IF it would be encoded in ISO2709? This would be computationally non-trivial and would likely double the time necessary for my software to write a MarcXML file. Should I just make the first five digits of the leader '00000', since it means nothing in the context of a MarcXML file?

Has anyone else pondered this question or have any input on how current systems work?

Keep in mind I could be writing a MarcXML record for a record created or modified in memory, so just using a pre-existing record length is not an option.

Many thanks for your consideration.

Mark V Sullivan
Digital Development and Web Coordinator
Technology and Support Services
University of Florida Libraries
352-273-2907 (office)
352-682-9692 (mobile)
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