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As of May 21, 2004, the National Library of Canada (NLC) and the National Archives of Canada (NAC) became Library and Archives Canada (LAC).

MARC 21 - MARC formats for the 21st century

What is MARC 21?

MARC 21 is the new name of the harmonized CAN/MARC and USMARC formats.

From 1994-1997, the Library of Congress and the National Library of Canada worked with their user communities, through their MARC committees, to reconcile format differences. In Canada, the Canadian Committee on MARC represents the user community on MARC format issues.

MARC 21 is the result of the activity undertaken to align CAN/MARC and USMARC. It represents the continuation of the CAN/MARC and USMARC formats in a single edition with a new name.

How is MARC 21 different from CAN/MARC?

In January 1998, the National Library of Canada issued an update to the CAN/MARC bibliographic format which included all of the changes resulting from harmonization with USMARC. In June 1998, a document listing changes to the CAN/MARC authority format resulting from alignment with USMARC was posted on the National Library of Canada Web site. The format specifications in the MARC 21 publication have, therefore, already been made available to users of existing CAN/MARC documentation.

When will MARC 21 be published?

The first format to be published will be the format for bibliographic data. It is anticipated that the new publication will be released in the summer of 1999 in English and French to be followed by the authority, holdings and classification formats. The National Library of Canada and the Library of Congress will act as co-publishers of the English versions of the formats; the National Library of Canada will publish the French versions of the formats.

When will the National Library of Canada implement the MARC 21 format?

The National Library of Canada will implement the specifications in the MARC 21 bibliographic and authority formats in two phases. The first phase of implementation was implemented in January 1999. The second phase will be implemented in late 1999.

How can I get more information?

For information on changes to the bibliographic and authority formats, consult:

MARC harmonization and its impact on the CAN/MARC bibliographic and authority formats

For the National Library of Canada’s implementation plan, consult:

Implementation of CAN/MARC - USMARC Harmonization Changes

For further information, please contact:

Standards, IMO
Library and Archives Canada
Ottawa, ON   K1A 0N4
Telephone: 819-994-6936
Fax: 819-934-4388