Maximum record length in Libraries Australia

The NSW User Group has asked a question about the length of Libraries Australia records that contain table of contents data. The question and Libraries Australia’s answer follow. Question: Can Libraries Australia improve the quality of the machine generated Table of Contents data being supplied by YBP. Specifically, is there any way to prevent the extraneous chapter sub heading data which results in records far larger than the maximum record size allowed for a MARC record. Many library systems cannot download or correctly index these long records.

Answer: The chapter sub heading data in YBP records is valuable data that has the potential of increasing the discovery of resources and aiding library users in their selection of resources. In addition, the structure of the data means that we are unable to reliably remove the sub heading data while retaining the remaining  data in field 505.  Libraries Australia records are limited to a maximum length of 28,000 octets (bytes) which is well below the 99,999 octet maximum record length allowed by MARC 21. There is significant variation in the maximum record length supported by various library management systems. We do not believe that it is in the best interests of our members for Libraries Australia to unnecessarily delete data from records in order to meet the lowest common denominator supported by library systems, even if that figure could be established. If User Groups would like to discuss this further and advise Libraries Australia of their consensus view of the preferred maximum record length then we will be happy to reconsider the issue.  Ultimately it is the responsibility of library system administrators  to manage the ingest of data into their systems.

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