First indicator - Access method

#  No information provided

0  Email

1  FTP

2  Remote login (Telnet)

3  Dial-up


7  Method specified in subfield $2

Second indicator - Relationship

#  No information provided

0  Resource

1  Version of resource

2  Related resource

8  No display constant generated

Subfield codes:

a  Host name (R)

b  Access number (R)

c  Compression information (R)

d  Path (R)

f   Electronic name (R)

g  Uniform Resource Name (R)  [Obsolete]

h  Processor of request (NR)

i   Instruction (R)

j   Bits per second (NR)

k  Password (NR)

l   Logon (NR)

m Contact for access assistance (R)

n  Name of location of host (NR)

o  Operating system (NR)

p  Port (NR)

q  Electronic format type (NR)

r   Settings (NR)

s  File size (R)

t   Terminal emulation (R)

u  Uniform Resource Identifier (R)

v  Hours access method available (R)

w Record control number (R)

x  Nonpublic note (R)

y  Link text (R)  [Not used in CONSER records]

z  Public note (R)

2  Access method (NR)

3  Materials specified (NR)

6  Linkage (NR)

8  Field link and sequence number (R)

NOTE:  See MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data (856 Electronic Location and Access) for code definitions not given below.


Record the information required to locate or access remote access continuing resources in field 856.  This field identifies the electronic location from which a resource is available as well as the information needed to access the item by the method identified by the first indicator value (HTTP, email, FTP, etc.) or subfield $2.  The information contained in this field is sufficient to connect to a service, access a document through a server, transfer files electronically, or subscribe to an electronic journal or newsletter.  It may also be used for finding aids or documents about the resource cataloged (including online documents about print resources).  Use this field also for resources in print or other formats that maintain online versions or supplemental information online.

No single subfield is required for all access methods although some are generally used for a specific type of access.  Subfield $u, Uniform Resource Locator, may be used in place of a group of specific subfields or along with the subfields.  Common subfields for the standard access methods are as follows:


$u (Uniform Resource Identifier)


$a (Host name), $f (Electronic name), $h (Processor of request), $i (Instruction)


$u (Uniform Resource Identifier ("mailto:")), $f (Electronic name), $i (Instruction)


$a (Host name), $d (Path), $l (Logon), $q (Electronic format type)


$u (Uniform Resource Identifier ("ftp:"))

Further information about other types of electronic access such as dial-up and remote login and associated subfields can be found in MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Description.

If the resource is available by more than one access method, the field is repeated with data appropriate to each method.  A resource that is available in different file formats under different file names, or groups of files, may also have multiple 856 fields in the record to record access and location information specific for each version.

The MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Description does not recommend a subfield order.  An alphabetical order is generally followed here for convenience, although the subfields can be reordered for a clearer interpretation.  Subfields $z and $3 are usually recorded first.

Editing instructions

1.   Do not add terminal punctuation at the end of the field.

2.   It is optional to replace the spacing underscore (_) and the spacing tilde (~) found in system, directory, or file names with their corresponding hexadecimal code, preceded by the percent sign (%).

\%5F   for spacing underscore

%7E   for spacing tilde

This was an interim practice used before OCLC implemented the corresponding characters from the MARC 21 character set.  These characters can be entered as characters instead of hexadecimal codes in OCLC.

856 40 $u

First indicator - Access method

The first indicator contains a value for the method of access that defines how the rest of the data in the field will be used.  The methods defined are common TCP/IP protocols.  Other access schemes are identified using indicator value "7" with the appropriate access method code recorded in $2.

The value in the first indicator may determine which subfields are appropriate for use.  For example, when first indicator value "1" (FTP) is used, subfields $c (Compression information), $d (Path), $f (Electronic name), and $q (Electronic format type) may be appropriate, whereas they would not likely be used with first indicator value "2" (Remote login (Telnet)).

#    No information provided.

Use this value to indicate that no information about the access method is provided.  This may be used when subfield $g contains a URN and there is no specific access information given.

0    Email.

This value indicates that access to the electronic resource is through email and Listserv subscription information is usually included.  Information can also be included to retrieve issues via email (e.g., "get" command in subfield $i with the issues' file names in subfield $f).

1    FTP.

Use indicator "1" to indicate that the access is through the File Transfer Protocol with information in 856 subfields to enable the user to transfer the resource electronically.

2    Remote login (Telnet).

Use indicator "2" to identify access through remote login, or telnet connection, with information in the field to enable the user to connect to the resource electronically.

3    Dial-up.

Use indicator "3" to indicate that access to the electronic resource is through dial-up by use of telephone lines, with additional information recorded in the subfields for connecting to the resource.

4    HTTP.

Use indicator "4" to indicate that access to the electronic resource is through the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).  This is generally used for documents on the World Wide Web.

7    Method specified in subfield $2.

Use indicator "7" to identify a method of access other than the defined values for which an identifying code is given in subfield $2 (Source of access).

Second indicator - Relationship

Use the appropriate value in the second indicator position to identify the relationship between the electronic resource represented by field 856 and the item cataloged.

#    No information provided.

Use value "#" to indicate that no information is provided about the relationship of the electronic resource to the bibliographic item described by the record.  (Records created before the implementation of second indicator values will show blanks.)

0    Resource.

Use value "0" to indicate that the electronic location in field 856 is for the resource cataloged.  In this case, the resource represented by the bibliographic record is an electronic resource.  The display constant Electronic resource: may be generated.  If the data in field 856 relates to a part of the resource represented by the record, subfield $3 is used to specify the portion(s) to which the field applies.

1    Version of resource.

Use value "1" to indicate that the location in field 856 is for an electronic version of the resource described by the record.  In this case, the item represented by the bibliographic record is not online but an online version is available.  The display constant Electronic version: may be generated.  If the data in field 856 relates to a part of the resource represented by the record, subfield $3 is used to specify the portion(s) to which the field applies.

2    Related resource.

Use value "2" to indicate that field 856 represents an electronic resource that is related to the resource described by the record.  Examples of related electronic resources include organizational home pages, subject-related resources, or online research tools.  The display constant Related electronic resource: may be generated.

8    No display constant generated.

Value "8" specifies that no display constant is to be generated.  Subfield $z may be used with second indicator "8" to identify a different relationship than those associated with the other indicator values.


The most commonly used subfields are:

$u  Uniform Resource Identifier.

Subfield $u contains the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI), which provides a standard syntax for locating files using existing Internet protocols or by resolution of a Uniform Resource Name (URN).  Field 856 is structured to create a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) from separate subfields.  Use subfield $u instead of those separate subfields or in addition to them.  It might be desirable to include subfield $u and the other subfields if a user display is desired as well as a URL.  Repeat subfield $u only if both a URN and a URL or more than one URN are recorded.  Repeat field 856 to record more than one URL (including a persistent uniform resource locator ( PURL)).

856 40 $u http://jefferson.village.virginia.EDU/pmc/contents.all.html

856 11 $u

$x  Nonpublic note.

Subfield $x contains a note relating to the electronic location and/or access of the item identified in the field.  The note is written in a form that may not be appropriate for public display or contains processing information about the file at the location specified.

856 10 $c decompress with PKUNZIP.exe $d mirrors2/win3/games $f $x Cannot verify because of transfer difficulty

$y  Link text.

Subfield $y contains link text which is used for display in place of the URI in subfield $u.  When subfield $y is present, applications can use the contents of subfield $y as the link instead of the content of subfield $u when linking to the destination in subfield $u.  Generally display and textual content are determined by local institutional policy so the field should not be used on CONSER records.

$z  Public note.

Subfield $z contains a note relating to the electronic location of the resource, written in a form that is intended for public display. (FN)

856 40 $z Link no longer valid as of Dec. 4, 2000 $u http://www...

856 10 $z FTP access to PostScript version includes groups of article files with .pdf extension $a $d /pub/EID/vol*no*/adobe $f *.pdf $l anonymous $q binary

$2  Access method.

When the first indicator position contains value 7, supply an appropriate code from: Electronic Access Methods Code List, available from the Library of Congress Network Development Office:

$3  Materials specified.

Subfield $3 contains information that specifies the part of the bibliographic item to which the field applies.  This can be used for resources that are not "remote access" but maintain supplemental information online.

856 00 $3 User's guide available via email $a $h almanac $i send ejoe guide

856 41 $3 Summaries and index $u http://…

$6  Linkage.

Use subfield $6 to record data that link pairs of fields that are alternate graphic representations of each other.  The subfield contains the tag number of an associated field and an occurrence number.  A complete description of subfield $6 and guidelines for applying it are provided in the 880 Alternate Graphic Representation section.

Related fields, etc.

538, 556, 753

856 Electronic Location and Access  (MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data)

See also:

841-88X  Holdings, Alternate Graphics, Etc.

Variable Data Fields

Section E.  MARC 21 Format for Serials as Applied Within CONSER

CONSER Editing Guide:  Contents