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Language coding in the catalog

  • 1.  Language coding in the catalog

    Posted Nov 30, 2022 11:29 AM
    Edited by Charles Riley Nov 30, 2022 11:36 AM

    The Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC) is pleased to announce the release of its guidelines for coding language information in bibliographic and authority records using the ISO 639-3 vocabulary. ISO 639-3 is a comprehensive list of nearly 8,000 three-letter codes for individual languages that expands on ISO 639-2. ISO 639-2 includes the same languages as the MARC language codes. Using ISO 639-3 to encode language information in bibliographic and authority records will allow us to provide users with more accurate and granular language information. In particular, ISO 639-3 will enable better access to many indigenous languages, sign languages, historical languages and artificial languages. It also provides better identification of spoken or sung languages in records for audiovisual materials in some languages, such as Chinese and Arabic.


    The guidelines are available at https://www.loc.gov/aba/pcc/scs/documents/ISO-639-3-guidelines.pdf


    These guidelines are based on feedback from user testing. We welcome further feedback as catalogers gain experience with using the ISO 639-3 language codes.


    We are also asking library- and cataloging-related communities with language expertise to examine the guidelines from the perspective of their own areas of specialization. You may also wish to consider developing supplemental guidance focused on the languages that you work with. For example, you may wish to provide guidance around ISO 639-3 macrolanguages or suggest approximate date ranges for ISO 639-3 codes for historical languages.


    Thank you for your consideration.


    Charles L. Riley

    on behalf of the PCC Task Group on Developing Guidelines for Using ISO 639-3 Language Codes for Library Cataloging



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    Charles Riley
    Catalog Librarian
    Yale University
    He/Him/His
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