Eric Lease Morgan wrote:
|Who ever heard of an indicator being longer than two characters long?
Byte 10 (zero origin) of the MARC leader specifies the number of
indicator characters. MARC21 and its predecessors have always specified
2, but the possible range is 0 to 9. The 24-character leader is the
"wizard" of MARC records, specifying what a particular version of "MARC"
looks like. Libraries have always been very conservative in this
regard, using only a single set of specifications from 1968 to the
present. However, the standard actually permits a very wide range of
Unfortunately, the most limiting aspect of the 24-character leader is
that fact that only 5 digits (the first 5 characters of the leader) were
specified as the maximum length of a MARC record. Manipulating the
various possible values of specific positions in the leader could lead
to record/field/subfield sizes far larger than this, but the 5-digit
(99,999 maximum) limitation is really *quite* limiting these days. The
5-digit base address in positions 12-16 might pose a similar problem.
But people were thinking in catalog card terms back at the beginning of
MARC. It's sort of like, are we putting unconscious limitations on
anything today in our specifications that future generations might wish
*we* had done differently?
Harvey E. Hahn, Manager, Technical Services Department
Arlington Heights (Illinois) Memorial Library
847/506-2644 - FX: 847/506-2650 - Email: hhahn(at)ahml(dot)info
OML & Scripts web pages: http://www.ahml.info/oml/
Personal web pages: http://users.anet.com/~packrat