Ever since the UK library community decided to abandon UKMARC and move to MARC21, one of the biggest concerns for those who haven’t yet moved over seems to be the loss of tag 248 (part/volume details). I don’t get why it’s such a big deal. It’s not like there’s nowhere else to put the volume information, is it? Why are cataloguers still concerned? There’s a nice sunny spot in the title field for it to go and if you’ve got your search indexes and display sets in order everyone’s still going to be able to find that info., aren’t they?
There are too many MARC fields anyway – 150 in UKMARC, probably less in MARC21 (but I’m not going to count them to find out!). With all the duplication, bar minute differences, I’d have been happy cutting them by half. No wonder different cataloguers do their own thing when it comes down to using it – it’s needlessly complicated. Most of the time taken over creating a record (if you haven’t bought it in from a bib record supplier) is spent on working out whether you can use this or that tag on a particular day, because the sun isn’t in alignment with Mars yet! Sometimes I think the only reason it was made/kept complicated is to keep the myth that cataloguing is a mysterious art. It’s not a mysterious art, MARC just makes it look that way 😉
So, if you haven’t moved over to MARC21 yet, please just relax about UKMARC tag 248. Yes, it’s going, but it doesn’t mean this is the end of the world. It just means part/volume details are getting put with the rest of the title info., where they belong.