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Cataloging Manual

Appendix G:

Database & Record Structure

The Sierra database is comprised of six primary records types. They are:

  • bibliographic records
  • item records
  • checkin records
  • order records
  • authority records
  • patron records

All types of records are comprised of fixed-length and variable-length fields. Variable length fields in the Sierra database are associated with a label, which is often referred to as its field group tag. Variable length fields can be either MARC fields (i.e. associated with a numeric MARC tag) or non-MARC fields (e.g. item record BARCODE). The indexing of a given field within a record depends upon its field group tag and/or MARC tag.

Bibliographic Records


Bibliographic records typically correspond to a given title within your library and can exist within the database without being linked to any other record type. Bibliographic records without linked records, though highly discouraged, are referred to as naked bibs.


Fixed Length Fields
Unless otherwise noted, allowed values for fixed length fields can be determined by selecting the following within Sierra Desktop Application:


ADMIN > PARAMETERS > GENERAL > FIXED-length codes (entries 1 through 3) 


Three letter MARC code that refers to the language of an item. When a record is loaded into the Sierra database, the system fills the LANG field with the code specified in bytes 33 through 35 of the MARC 008 (or OCLC’s LANG fixed field). This field is used in the catalog to limit materials by language of publication.



Number that tells the system how many characters to skip when indexing the title field of a non-MARC bibliographic record.



The two-letter location code indicating which library has item, order or checkin records attached (or if no records are attached, the last library to have an item order or checkin record attached). If more than one library has records attached, the LOCATION field will display “multi” and each holding library will be listed in a variable-length LOCATIONS field at the bottom of the record. The bibliographic LOCATION field controls the “scope” in which the record will display.



The date the bibliographic entity was cataloged. When records are loaded into the system, the system normally adds the current date to the CAT DATE field. This field is used to determine which records are sent to Marcive for monthly authority control. Any time a field that is subject to authority control is changed in an existing bibliographic record, the CAT DATE must be updated so that the record is sent to Marcive in the next authority control run.



The bibliographic level of the material, e.g. serial, monograph, etc. When a record is loaded into the database, the system uses the code specified in byte 7 of the MARC leader (i.e. OCLC fixed field BLvl).



The broad material designation. This field is used in the catalog for limiting a search by material type. The material type is also displayed in the list of records matching a given catalog search. When a record is loaded into the database, the system uses the code specified in byte 6 of the MARC leader (i.e. OCLC fixed field Type).



Controls how (or if) the record is displayed in the public view of both the OPAL and OhioLINK catalogs. Records with “-” are displayed in both OPAL and OhioLINK. Records with “z” will display in the OPAL catalog but not in OhioLINK. Records with “s” do not display in either public view of the OPAL or the OhioLINK catalog. The SUPPRESS value does not affect retrieval in any Sierra module. The following records must be suppressed (using “z” or “s”) from the OhioLINK catalog:


  • Records without OCLC numbers (e.g. records for uncataloged materials)
  • Naked bibliographic records
  • Records for electronic resources that are NOT accessible by ALL OhioLINK users


Three letter MARC country code. When a record is loaded into the database, the system uses the code specified in bytes 15 through 17 of MARC 008 (i.e. OCLC fixed field Ctry).