MARC::Record - Perl extension for handling MARC records


Version 1.39_02


Module for handling MARC records as objects. The file-handling stuff is in MARC::File::*.


Any errors generated are stored in $MARC::Record::ERROR. Warnings are kept with the record and accessible in the warnings() method.



Base constructor for the class. It just returns a completely empty record. To get real data, you'll need to populate it with fields, or use one of the MARC::File::* modules to read from a file.

new_from_usmarc( $marcblob [, \&filter_func($tagno,$tagdata)] )

This is a wrapper around MARC::File::USMARC::decode() for compatibility with older versions of MARC::Record.

The wanted_func() is optional. See MARC::File::USMARC::decode for details.


Following are a number of convenience methods for commonly-retrieved data fields. Please note that they each return strings, not MARC::Field objects. They return empty strings if the appropriate field or subfield is not found. This is as opposed to the field()/subfield() methods which return undef if something's not found. My assumption is that these methods are used for quick & dirty reports and you don't want to mess around with noting if something is undef.

Also note that no punctuation cleanup is done. If the 245a is "Programming Perl / ", then that's what you'll get back, rather than "Programming Perl".


Returns the title from the 245 tag.


Returns the title proper from the 245 tag, subfields a, n and p.


Returns the author from the 100, 110 or 111 tag.


Returns the edition from the 250 tag, subfield a.


Returns the publication date from the 260 tag, subfield c.



Returns a list of all the fields in the record. The list contains a MARC::Field object for each field in the record.

field( tagspec(s) )

Returns a list of tags that match the field specifier, or an empty list if nothing matched. In scalar context, returns the first matching tag, or undef if nothing matched.

The field specifier can be a simple number (i.e. "245"), or use the "." notation of wildcarding (i.e. subject tags are "6..").

subfield( $tag, $subfield )

Shortcut method for getting just a subfield for a tag. These are equivalent:

  my $title = $marc->field('245')->subfield("a");
  my $title = $marc->subfield('245',"a");

If either the field or subfield can't be found, undef is returned.

append_fields( @fields )

Appends the field specified by $field to the end of the record. @fields need to be MARC::Field objects.

    my $field = MARC::Field->new('590','','','a' => 'My local note.');

Returns the number of fields appended.

insert_fields_before( $before_field, @new_fields )

Inserts the field specified by $new_field before the field $before_field. Returns the number of fields inserted, or undef on failures. Both $before_field and all @new_fields need to be MARC::Field objects. If they are not an exception will be thrown.

    my $before_field = $record->field('260');
    my $new_field = MARC::Field->new('250','','','a' => '2nd ed.');

insert_fields_after( $after_field, @new_fields )

Identical to insert_fields_before(), but fields are added after $after_field. Remember, $after_field and any new fields must be valid MARC::Field objects or else an exception will be thrown.

insert_fields_ordered( @new_fields )

Will insert fields in strictly numerical order. So a 008 will be filed after a 001 field. See insert_grouped_field() for an additional ordering.

insert_grouped_field( $field )

Will insert the specified MARC::Field object into the record in grouped order and return true (1) on success, and false (undef) on failure.

    my $field = MARC::Field->new( '510', 'Indexed by Google.' );
    $record->insert_grouped_field( $field );

For example, if a '650' field is inserted with insert_grouped_field() it will be inserted at the end of the 6XX group of tags. After discussion most people wanted the ability to add a new field to the end of the hundred group where it belonged. The reason is that according to the MARC format, fields within a record are supposed to be grouped by block (hundred groups). This means that fields may not necessarily be in tag order.

delete_field( $field )

Deletes a field from the record.

The field must have been retrieved from the record using the field() method. For example, to delete a 526 tag if it exists:

    my $tag526 = $marc->field( "526" );
    if ( $tag526 ) {
        $marc->delete_field( $tag526 );

delete_field() returns the number of fields that were deleted. This shouldn't be 0 unless you didn't get the tag properly.


This is a wrapper around MARC::File::USMARC::encode() for compatibility with older versions of MARC::Record.


Returns a pretty string for printing in a MARC dump.


Returns the leader for the record. Sets the leader if text is defined. No error checking is done on the validity of the leader.

set_leader_lengths( $reclen, $baseaddr )

Internal function for updating the leader's length and base address.


The clone() method makes a copy of an existing MARC record and returns the new version. Note that you cannot just say:

    my $newmarc = $oldmarc;

This just makes a copy of the reference, not a new object. You must use the clone() method like so:

    my $newmarc = $oldmarc->clone;

You can also specify field specs to filter down only a certain subset of fields. For instance, if you only wanted the title and ISBN tags from a record, you could do this:

    my $small_marc = $marc->clone( 245, '020' );

The order of the fields is preserved as it was in the original record.


Returns the warnings (as a list) that were created when the record was read. These are things like "Invalid indicators converted to blanks".

    my @warnings = $record->warnings();

The warnings are items that you might be interested in, or might not. It depends on how stringently you're checking data. If you're doing some grunt data analysis, you probably don't care.

A side effect of calling warnings() is that the warning buffer will be cleared.


add_fields() is now deprecated, and users are encouraged to use append_fields(), insert_fields_after(), and insert_fields_before() since they do what you want probably. It is still here though, for backwards compatability.

add_fields() adds MARC::Field objects to the end of the list. Returns the number of fields added, or undef if there was an error.

There are three ways of calling add_fields() to add data to the record.

1 Create a MARC::Field object and add it
  my $author = MARC::Field->new(
                100, "1", " ", a => "Arnosky, Jim."
  $marc->add_fields( $author );
2 Add the data fields directly, and let add_fields() take care of the objectifying.
        245, "1", "0",
                a => "Raccoons and ripe corn /",
                c => "Jim Arnosky.",
3 Same as #2 above, but pass multiple fields of data in anonymous lists
        [ 250, " ", " ", a => "1st ed." ],
        [ 650, "1", " ", a => "Raccoons." ],


A brief discussion of why MARC::Record is done the way it is:

  • It's built for quick prototyping

    One of the areas Perl excels is in allowing the programmer to create easy solutions quickly. MARC::Record is designed along those same lines. You want a program to dump all the 6XX tags in a file? MARC::Record is your friend.

  • It's built for extensibility

    Currently, I'm using MARC::Record for analyzing bibliographic data, but who knows what might happen in the future? MARC::Record needs to be just as adept at authority data, too.

  • It's designed around accessor methods

    I use method calls everywhere, and I expect calling programs to do the same, rather than accessing internal data directly. If you access an object's hash fields on your own, future releases may break your code.

  • It's not built for speed

    One of the tradeoffs in using accessor methods is some overhead in the method calls. Is this slow? I don't know, I haven't measured. I would suggest that if you're a cycle junkie that you use to check to see where your bottlenecks are, and then decide if MARC::Record is for you.


MARC::Record, MARC::Lint



  • Incorporate in the distribution.

    Combine and MARC::* into one distribution.

  • Podify

  • Allow regexes across the entire tag

    Imagine something like this:

      my @sears_headings = $marc->tag_grep( qr/Sears/ );

    (from Mike O'Regan)

  • Insert a field in an arbitrary place in the record

  • Allow deleting a field

      for my $field ( $record->field( "856" ) ) {
            $record->delete_field( $field ) unless useful($field);
            } # for

    (from Anne Highsmith

  • Modifying an existing field


Please feel free to email me at <>. I'm glad to help as best I can, and I'm always interested in bugs, suggestions and patches.

An excellent place to look for information, and get quick help, is from the perl4lib mailing list. See for more information about this list, and other helpful MARC information.

The MARC::Record development team uses the RT bug tracking system at If your email is about a bug or suggestion, please report it through the RT system. This is a huge help for the team, and you'll be notified of progress as things get fixed or updated. If you prefer not to use the website, you can send your bug to <>


Ideas are things that have been considered, but nobody's actually asked for.

  • Create multiple output formats.

    These could be ASCII, XML, or MarcMaker.


This code may be distributed under the same terms as Perl itself.

Please note that these modules are not products of or supported by the employers of the various contributors to the code.


Andy Lester, <>