MARC 541 Immediate Source of Acquisition Note

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MARC field 541 in the bibliographic and holdings formats contains information about the immediate source of acquisition of the described materials. This field is repeatable. Starting in 2019 the Folger only records accession number in the 541 field. Additional public information is in a free text note describing the full provenance. Many records for manuscripts, paintings, and drawings still have provenance information split between "Provenance" and "Immediate source" notes.

Commonly-used tags


1st indicator - Privacy

0 - Private
1 - Not private

2nd indicator - Undefined

Subfield delimiters

ǂ3 - Materials specified (NR) 
ǂe - Accession number (NR)
ǂ5 - Institution to which field applies (NR) 

Policy and formulation

Used in Folger records for the accession number. Do not use for recording source, method, or date of acquisition: this is maintained in database form in the Acquisitions module of the Integrated Library System, and entered as an eye-readable note in MARC 561$a (for unique items such as manuscripts and drawings) or 852$z (for resources issued in multiples, like printed books and engravings)

  • All vault materials added to the collection receive a 6-digit accession number. The call numbers of most printed rare materials are based on the accession number. Items acquired before this practice may have four-digit accession numbers, case numbers, the name of a person, or a date.
  • Case numbers are 4-digit numbers that go to the low 2000s. Record the number preceded by 'cs', no space. Example: ǂe cs1493 (a parallel series of case numbers from 1 through 128 have circles around them, and are referred to as "circle case" numbers. Use parentheses to indicate the circle. Example: ǂe cs(25)
  • Accession numbers 3001 through 7029 were assigned between October 1930 and the end of August 1938.[1] (A previous version of these instructions incorrectly said "The books donated by Henry N. Paul were given 4-digit accession numbers in the 6xxx range" but in fact, the Paul donation received accession numbers 5921-6176, 6735-6858, and 6897-6900. Incorrect Henry N. Paul former owner access points may therefore be present in Hamnet).
  • Separate the units of date-based accession numbers with a period. Example: ǂe 12.30.44
  • 'F' or 'ac' usually precedes the six-digit accession number or accession date as written in the item. Record the 6-digit number only. Example ǂe 256644
  • If item in hand lacks a case or accession number, record ǂe No case or accession number present
  • In the case of framed art or other material where an accession number would be hidden, record ǂe No case or accession number visible

History note

For records created before November 2016, accession numbers may be found in MARC 852ǂj, 852ǂz, or 876ǂz


541 1_ ǂe 196314 ǂ5 DFo
541 1_ ǂ3 STC 17412 copy 1 ǂe cs452 ǂ5 DFo

External links


  1. Note signed "Roberta Harrison, Secretary in Charge of Accessions" at the end of that last used page in the register says "On September 27, 1938, the keeping of the accession book was discontinued by order of the Director, Dr. Joseph Q. Adams." The last number assigned had been on August 31.