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 June 2, 2005 [posted]
February 27, 2006 [note added]
 Request for Comments on Discontinuing Distribution of Cataloging Bibliographic Records with Artificially Reconstructed Subject Strings

[Editor's Note: The Response to NLMs request for comments can be found in Subject Headings in NLM MARC 21 Products. NLM Tech Bull. 2005 Sep-Oct;(346):e6.]

drop cap letter for n LM is proposing to discontinue distributing its cataloging bibliographic records with artificially reconstructed subject strings. Records in MARC format would continue to have MeSH headings combined with the appropriate topical subheadings, but age group and pregnancy subdivisions, geographic locations, and publication types would be carried in separate fields in the record, rather than as subfields of the MeSH heading.

This would mean that records distributed to bibliographic utilities and other licensees would be identical to the records in LocatorPlus. NLM's understanding is that many medical libraries would prefer to establish their headings in the same manner that NLM does internally. Where libraries are still using the complete subject string, they often are still making local adjustments to the current strings to make them compatible with the older headings in their databases, so they are not using the strings as found in the utilities.

By no longer distributing reconstructed subject strings, NLM will be able to streamline its cataloging process by avoiding the complex tagging and coding needed to reconstruct the strings properly on output. This will avoid the creation of sometimes nonsensical subject strings that occasionally are automatically generated by the reconstruction program. In the online environment, deconstructed subject headings provide more simplicity and semantic interoperability.

Currently Catfile licensees receive MARC formatted records with the following data:
650 _2 $a Main heading $x topical subheading $x age group $z geographic location $v Publication Type/Genre $x language
In the future, distributed records would contain the following data:
650 _2 $a Main heading $x topical subheading
650 _ 2 $a Age group
651 _2 $a Geographic location $x topical subheading
655 _7 $a Publication Type/Genre $2 mesh

$x language would not appear in the 650 (subject) field. Language information would still be found in the 008 (fixed field) and the 041 field.

NLM is interested in hearing if libraries would like to continue to have $x language appended to the subject string on distributed records when one of the following publication types is used: Dictionary, Encyclopedias, Phrases or Terminology.

The proposed change would be reflected in NLM's cataloging bibliographic records distributed to licensees and would begin to appear in bibliographic utilities (e.g., OCLC, RLIN) in December 2005, when NLM resumes MARC record distribution after internal year-end processing to implement MeSH 2006.

Please send comments on this proposal by August 15, 2005 to:

Diane Boehr
Head, Cataloging
National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike, Room 1N11
Bethesda, MD 20894

NLM will make the final decision on whether or not to implement this change by September 30, 2005.

By Diane Boehr
Cataloging Section

black line separting article from citation

Boehr D. Request for Comments on Discontinuing Distribution of Cataloging Bibliographic Records with Artificially Reconstructed Subject Strings. NLM Tech Bull. 2005 May-Jun;(344):e8.


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