Many of us have been in a foreign country where we can’t speak the language. It is like being illiterate, you are unempowered, it can restrict what you can and can’t do. For example, unless you understand Russian you probably can’t read the words in the following sign. However, from the image you can probably work out that it is a street sign and therefore it is highly probable that the words relate to geographic place names, AND because one word is presented with an airport symbol, you can also work out that this must be the name of an airport. Of course if you understand Russian you picked all of that straight away and can read the actual place names.6-9-1_d_russian_road_signSource

For over fifty years the language of Libraryland has been MARC, and though we are moving towards FRBR enabled bibliographic descriptors such as BIBFRAME the lingua franca for Libraryland is still MARC and yet:

many librarians do not even have a basic knowledge of MARC, they are effectively illiterate in Libraryland.

A case in point is what to do with award metadata. While this may not be seen as the most important bit of bibliographic information, for a school library book awards can play a very useful role in promoting books to children, especially where they might not necessarily choose the book unless it was won an award. For a school library that has moved into a global shared metadata environment within the WorldShare WorldCat ecosystem it is important that award information is described according to the lingua franca / standards of Libraryland rather than some bespoke siloed and / or unstructured process.

What does this mean?

The library metadata standard for award information is the MARC586 field. While a library can create their own specific list of award winning books unless the information is coded into the MARC586 it is siloed within the library’s or institution’s systems. Therefore, the MEANING of the information can not be readily shared or distributed, and it has no meaning to any other system. Going back to first principles, the reason Henriette Avram developed MARC in the first place was so libraries could share MEANINGFUL metadata.

What to do and why?

Code the award details into the MARC586. For example:

586 ##$aInky Award longlist, 2016

Do not post this information into the MARC500 general notes field. YOU might be able to read this information on the screen, but neither your catalogue, or any other catalogue that might access your records via bibliographic metadata infrastructure such as Libraries Australia, will be able to put the information into context and use it effectively. The MARC500 general notes field is exactly what it says: “general notes”. For example, in the Kerferd Library catalogue full record at the award information is clearly displayed as an award. See the following screen shot for details. Note that in the Kerferd Library WorldShare full record for this book the WorldCat holdings of any other library around the world can be displayed. At the top of the screen shot you can see that there is a school in Tasmania that also has the same manifestation of this work.

Moreover, as this information is coded into the global library metadata ecosystem that is WorldCat, this meaningful award information automatically becomes part of any other Worldshare library that has the same manifestation in their catalogue. More importantly,

by coding the bibliographic information in the appropriate MARC field the information is available via WorldCat to any other library with access to Libraries Australia and / or WorldCat.


Who should do this coding?

In a global collaborative cloud based ecosystem any library should do this, even a smallish school library in Australia. BUT, given some of awards are often organised under the auspices of some of the larger libraries out there, the Inky Awards are run by the Centre for Youth Literature at the State Library of Victoria, these larger libraries with larger cataloguing departments and resources really should take the lead in correctly coding what is after all THEIR award metadata. While the WorldCat record used by the State Library of Victoria’s holdings ( lists many other awards it does not include their own Inky Award information from 2016 and it is now 2017.