Machine exchange format for libraries

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The machine exchange format for libraries ( MAB ) is a bibliographic data format .

MAB was an exchange format for metadata that was particularly common in German-speaking countries . A comparable, internationally widespread exchange format is MARC .


MAB was mostly used in conjunction with the Alphabetical Cataloging Rules (RAK). The beginnings of the MAB go back to 1973, when a national exchange format was initiated under the leadership of the German National Library (DNB) together with the Laboratory for Library Technology. A comprehensive revision of the MAB in 1995 led to the new format version MAB2 after two years of development work . After that, four supplements to MAB2 were published.

The DNB used MAB neither as a cataloging format nor (internally) as a working format, but only for data exchange with other libraries. The use of MAB in the German-speaking library sector has been replaced by a switch to MARC : Since 2009, the German National Library has also supplied its bibliographic data and authority data in MARC 21. With the introduction of the Common Authority File (GND) in April 2012, the delivery of authority data in MAB discontinued by DNB, in June 2013 the complete discontinuation of data deliveries in MAB followed.

Content and structure

Similar to its Anglo-American counterpart MARC, MAB consists of five formats that characterize different types of data:

  1. MAB format for bibliographic data (MAB title)
  2. MAB format for personal names (MAB- PND )
  3. MAB format for corporate names (MAB- GKD )
  4. MAB format for keywords (MAB- SWD )
  5. MAB format for local data (MAB local)

The MAB format allows a finer granularity when marking bibliographical elements than MARC. The greater diversification can be absorbed by grouping similar elements. Elements that belong together are arranged hierarchically.

Comparison with MARC

Although influenced by MARC , MAB does not represent a strictly congruent image of the MARC architecture, but shows some serious conceptual differences to MARC.

While the MARC formats follow a relatively strict sequence of record headers and secondary entries when recording a title, MAB allows elements that match each other to be arranged in segments.

The approach of the MAB is therefore more oriented towards the linking of semantically related components than the comparatively static structure of the MARC formats.

Another difference is the assignment between bibliographical elements and fields. While MARC may combine several bibliographical elements in fields or subfields, MAB generally only assigns one element to each field. For example, records of the 245 bibliographic MARC format a real title along with a parallel title, while MAB would define its own field for the parallel title. Overall, MAB therefore prefers a more finely granulated breakdown and then puts the individual components in a context. In MARC, information about a multi-volume work would possibly be summarized in one sentence, while MAB in this case forms several sentences that belong together (main clauses, subclauses and suffixes). These sentences are in a hierarchical relationship to one another.

Furthermore, the MAB format only allows a certain number of field repetitions. In MARC, on the other hand, the (often arbitrary) repetition of a field is possible using the field addition "repeatable".

MAB in XML (MABxml)

An XML version of MAB2 has also existed since the end of 2003. This makes it possible to transport MAB data via XML-based exchange protocols such as OAI-PMH or SRU .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Project change to MARC 21 at the German National Library
  2. (accessed on September 27, 2012)
  3. (accessed on December 8, 2014).