Tag of the Month

Category: Tag of the Month Bibliographic Archives
Title: 520 - Summary Note (R)

The Summary Note (520 tag) of the MARC 21 
bibliographic record contains an unformatted note 
that describes the scope and general contents of a 
book or library holding. This could be a summary, 
abstract, annotation, review, or only a phrase 
describing the material. Title and subject headings 
are often not descriptive enough for the library 
searcher to determine if they want to read or 
consult the title. The Summary Note can provide a 
description of the plot, give the names of 
characters, or mention that photographs are 
present. It can also point out special features of 
the item, describe the way in which information is 
presented, provide a more detailed list of topics 
covered, or tell the user about a topic for which 
adequate subject headings have not been 

The 520 tag is keyword searchable, so it can aid in 
a more profitable search. The Summary Note may 
mention an alternate term or a more common term 
than the established subject heading. For instance, 
when "Inuit" is used as the subject heading, 
"Eskimos" might be used in the Summary Note. A 
Summary Note can list more specific topics. For a 
book that receives the subject heading "Animals," 
the Summary Note might list some of the animals 
described in the holding. 

AACR2 governs the construction of the Summary Note
with rule X.7B17. The X represents the particular 
chapter number depending on what type of media the 
librarian is cataloging. For book materials it 
would be rule 2.7B17 in chapter two and for 
projected graphics it would be 8.7B17 in chapter 

RDA guideline instructs to provide a summary
if this information is considered important for identification
or selection especially for audiovisual resources and for
resources used by persons with disabilities.

Usually, the 520 tag uses one subfield, subfield a. 
The MARC format also makes provisions for subfield 
b, Expansion of summary note. The individual 
subfields are not repeatable. The MARC format 
provides for a display constant that would label 
the Summary Note as "Subject" or "Review," etc.

Adding the summary notes to the bibliographic 
record will make many items in the library more 
accessible to the library users through keyword 


First  Display constant controller

     blank Summary 

     0 Subject 

     1 Review 
     2 Scope and content
     3 Abstract

     4 Content advice

     8 No display constant generated 

Second  Undefined

     blank Undefined

     a Summary, etc. note (NR) 

     b Expansion of summary note (NR) 

     c Assigning source (NR)

     u Uniform Resource Identifier (R)

     2 Source (NR)

     3 Materials specified (NR)


This field ends with a period unless another mark 
of punctuation (!, ?, -) is present.


     520    _aContains 800 short articles on individuals, 
                    organizations, events, and court cases focusing 
                    on the period since emancipation.

     520 8  _aA guide to aircraft used by the American Air Force 
                    during this century.  Entries are arranged alphabetically
                    by manufacturer.  Includes over 1,000 photographs, 
                    diagrams, and plans.

     520 0  _aTwo head-and-shoulder portraits in separate ornamental 
                    oval frames, one frame held by eagle.

     520    _aA research tool designed for students  of all ages, 
                   including maps, charts, audio sound clips, dictionaries, 
                   and other useful information.  Works in a virtual workspace
                   mode so that the user can access multiple pieces of 
                   data simultaneously.

     520 1  _a"Aronson's film is a wonderfully sympathetic, chronological 
                     record of Ginsberg's life and career as a poet, 
                      counterculture yoeman, and "cosmic  social worker."  
                     Along the way, aging subterranean friends bear fond 
                     witness to Ginsberg's literary power and moral courage. 
                     However, it is Ginsberg himself who is ultimately the most
                     eloquent and insightful commentator on his life 
                     and times" - American Libraries,  July/August, 1995.

     520    _a"An explanation of how the Appaloosa horse was brought 
                    to the Sahaptin Indians by a young warrior who 
                    traveled into Apache country"--Library Journal.

     520    _aDescribes the life and customs of the Inuit people, also 
                   known as Eskimo, answering many questions about them.

The following is an example where the Summary Note 
is repeated because there is more than one film 
included on the videotape: 

     520    _aIn "Pepe le Moko" a famous gangster is safe from 
                   the police while hiding in the Casbah section of Algiers,   
                   but he falls in love and follows the lady into danger.
     520    _aIn "Shoot the piano player" Charlie is a timid cafe pianist
                   who has given up his former life as a concert 
                   pianist, a career which had destroyed his marriage.

The Summary Note is also repeated where a library 
finds it useful to include summaries in several