Russian Ligatures in MARC

We have had a few other libraries ask about the Russian ligatures since there seems to be several inconsistencies with how these diacritics are coded in LC’s authority records.  A couple of months ago, one of our programmers was looking into this issue.  Here is the information that he found:

The reason why both the single ligature and the two half ligature’s are used is the LC records are inconstant in which ligature diacritics they use. We aren’t randomly changing them, we are exporting what’s in the LC record. I’ve only looked at a few records but this usually happens when OCLC updates a record. I’m pretty sure OCLC uses the two separate left and right half ligatures and LC uses the single combining ligature.

Here’s a direct quote from LC’s mapping table:

Code: The Ligature that spans two characters is constructed of two halves in MARC-8: EB (Ligature, first half) and EC (Ligature, second half).  The preferred Unicode/UTF-8 mapping is to the single character Ligature that spans two characters, U+0361.  The single character Ligature is encoded between the two characters to be spanned.

It specifically says the single ligature goes between the two characters that are supposed to be spanned.

LC’s mapping table can be downloaded here. It’s the MARC-8 to Unicode XML mapping file link: … ables.html

So it looks like these Russian ligatures are being coded one way at LC and another way at OCLC.  The records that we receive are from LC.  As the records are changed from the single ligature to half ligatures (or vice verse), you will see them on the R03 change reports.

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4 Responses to “Russian Ligatures in MARC”

  1. Darla Carras says:

    The single ligatures are an issue in our system. Are you saying that you can convert them to half ligatures, both in bibs and authority records?

  2. Jeremy Myntti says:

    We currently don’t have an option in place to convert the single ligature to two half ligatures. However, it sounds like several systems have issues with the single ligature, so we are looking into different options for converting the single ligature to the half ligatures in bib and authority records. If you would like, feel free to call and we can talk about some possible options.

  3. […] this was an interesting one to figure out. Back in September 2010, we wrote a blog post about this […]

  4. Chuck says:

    There’s a bug in Arial Unicode MS that compounds this issue, described here: