Many music CDs and videos (especially older VHSs and DVDs) don’t have ISBNs, the identifier that goes into the 020 field of the MARC record.  However, there is another numeric identifier for audio and video items that can go into MARC records as unique identifiers: UPC codes.

If you see a UPC code on the CD, VHS or DVD packaging, you can put that into the 024 field of the MARC record.  It is an excellent, unique identifier when no ISBN is present. Even if an ISBN is present, it’s not a bad idea to put the UPC into the MARC record, too.

UPCs look like the one below. They generally appear somewhere on the item’s outer package. UPC codes have exactly 12 digits. The number includes the two digits “outside” the frame. So the UPC for this item should be entered 036000291452. If you have the packaging with the UPC code available, just scan that into the 024 field of the record.

For audio and video items, the best thing is to put as much identifying data into the record as possible. For example, some libraries only purchase full screen movies, so it’s important to make sure full screen and widescreen bib records are distinct, and that your holdings aren’t attached to the wrong bibliographic record.  In general, a good video record should contain data about format (Widescreen, Full Screen), edition (Special, Director’s Cut, Anniversary, etc.), running time, number of discs, bonus features, publication year, and publisher.

Ideally, here’s what we like to see in every videorecording bib record:

  • 020 ISBN and/or 024 other standard numbers such as UPC
  • 250 Edition Widescreen, Full Screen, Blu-Ray, Director’s Cut
  • 260 Publication or copyright year
  • 260 Publisher (studio or distributor)
  • 300 Running time in minutes
  • 440 Series (New Line Platinum, Criterion, Star Wars, etc.)
  • 500 Special features

For audio CDs, the UPC is the item’s principal identifier and should always go into the MARC record’s 024 field. Some audio discs are in special formats, such as Dual Disc hybrids, SACD Super Audio, DVD Audio, or shaped CD discs. These formats should be noted in the MARC 500 field. DVD Audio has its own MARC 300 subfield.

Photo credit: “New media shelf” by Flickr user kalleboo under a Creative Commons license.