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    Long MARC Fields, Limits and Splitting

    • Article Type: Q&A
    • Product: Aleph
    • Product Version: 20


    What is Aleph's limit on the size of a single field?
    How many characters can a single field accommodate?
    When Aleph encounters a long field, how this handled?


    Any single tag is limited to 2000 characters.
    Aleph will automatically break any longer incoming tags into multiple occurrences.
    “Convert MARC Records - Step 2 (file-02)” breaks fields at logical boundaries (subfields or full words) in versions 16 and up. Please see example attached.

    There are the following rules: When the text in one field is longer than 2000 Bytes it is split into several fields beginning with $$9. The first fields are around 1000 Bytes. E.g. when the field has 2800 bytes, it will be split into 2 fields (the first with 1000, the 2nd with 1800). If the field has 3400 bytes, it will be split into 3 fields (the first with 1000, the 2nd with 1000 and the last with 1400). 
    Separators are the ' -- ' , blanks or full stop. If there is a "word" containing more than 2000 characters like in your example it is cut after 1000 characters. If there are blanks or full stops or ' -- ' in it, the program looks for this to cut the fields.

    Additional Information

    * When downloading records to the Aleph from OCLC via the oclc_server, Aleph breaks long tags at a fixed position, rather than breaking on a word or subfield boundary. The result is that a broken word displays as two strings, with a space between (for example, "subsurface" becomes "subsu rface").
    * Do not use 2709 OCLC conversion (Catalog module > Records tab > Import Records > Convert Records > Convert Procedure drop-down) for records with fields longer than 2000 bytes because this routine does not handle long fields correctly.
    * The preferred conversion routine is pc_tab_cat_conv. This is a REMOTE method and information about it is found in System Librarians Guide > Cataloging > Importing Records.
    * If there is a convert procedure in the Cataloging module Convert Records with the name "MARC", this is probably already set up to use pc_tab_cat_conv.


    Attached file

    Category: Cataloging (500)

    Subject: Importing records (500)

    • Article last edited: 11/15/2013