Works in Progress Webinar: A Close Look at Archival Records in MARC

Standards for archival description have been in place for more than thirty years, but what does actual practice look like? In this webinar, OCLC Research Program Officer Jackie Dooley gave an overview of her deep dive into the four million records for archival materials in WorldCat. #orlp

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Webinar files

Download webinar slides (.pptx) [link]



MARC provides no straightforward way to extract all records for “archival materials,” so OCLC Research has scoped a filter to extract the archival subset from WorldCat. The filter itself suggests a rich discussion question: How does one define archival material in the context of the MARC format? For starters, it encompasses materials in every format represented by MARC catalog records.

In addition to compiling statistics on field occurrences, the work highlights differences in description from one type of material to another. The data analysis address questions such as these: How often have DACS and other special materials content standards actually been used? Is it true that archivists usually describe materials at the collection level? To what extent do records link to digital content, and for which types of material? Does the archival control byte fulfill its intent to identify all archival descriptions?

This free webinar previewed a report that will be published early in 2016. 

Works in Progress: An OCLC Research Occasional Webinar Series
These webinars are exclusively for OCLC Research Library Partners, but the recordings are publicly available to all

What are we working on? What are you working on? OCLC Research Library Partners are invited to participate in Works in Progress: An OCLC Research Occasional Webinar Series to talk about work happening in OCLC Research – we'd like to present our work informally and get feedback from you, our Partners. We'd also like this to be a venue for Partner institutions. What are you working on that everyone should know about? What input would help you move forward? Let us know!


03 December 2015


1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Eastern Standard Time, North America [UTC -5]


Online via WebEx


For more information about this project, see Jackie Dooley's HangingTogether blog post, What do MARC descriptions of archival materials really look like?