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Exchange Formats

Exchange formats were developed in parallel with the development of computers and other electronic storage devices to facilitate the transfer of bibliographic data between computer systems. Their use affects economies by reducing the duplication of effort implicit in different libraries acquiring and cataloguing the same material.

  • MARC (MAchine-Readable Cataloguing) - is a standard for the storage and exchange of bibliographic records and related information in machine-readable form. All MARC standards conform to ISO 2709:1996 Information and documentation -- Format for Information Exchange.
  • MARC 21 - The MARC 21 formats are standards for the representation and communication of bibliographic and related information in machine-readable form. The MARC 21 formats are maintained by the Library of Congress in consultation with various user communities. The British Library adopted MARC 21 as its cataloguing format in June 2004 as part of the implementation of an integrated library system.
  • UKMARC - The UKMARC format was the standard for exchange developed, managed and promoted by the British Library and applied by the Library in its bibliographic products and services until May 2004. All BL cataloguing data is now originated in MARC 21, and the UKMARC format is no longer supported. The Library ceased support for UKMARC on 31 December 2008.


The UKMARC Manual [24KB]

The UKMARC Manual (4th ed. The British Library, 1996) is a guide to the UKMARC format for handling bibliographic records. The manual is designed specifically for use by cataloguers and is fully illustrated with examples.

Access The UKMARC Manual.


The UKMARC Exchange Record Format [14KB]The UKMARC Exchange Record Format (The British Library, 1997) describes the use of the UKMARC format for the exchange of bibliographic records between computer systems. It is designed specifically for use by Technical Services staff.

Access The UKMARC Exchange Record Format.


For further information please contact:

The British Library
Collection Metadata
Boston Spa, Wetherby
West Yorkshire
LS23 7BQ
United Kingdom