A review of metadata: a survey of current resource description formats
Work Package 3 of Telematics for Research project DESIRE (RE 1004)
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RFC 1807

Environment of use


RFC 1807 (A Format for Bibliographic Records by R. Lasher & D. Cohen. June1995) is a memo, not a standard, and defines a format for E-mailing bibliographic records of technical reports. RFC 1807 obsoletes RFC 1357 of July 1992.

Constituency of use

US technical community.

Ease of creation

The format was designed to be easy to read and create. Bibliographic records can be prepared and read using any text editor, without any special programs.

Progress towards international standardisation

RFC 1807 is not a standard in IETF terms, it is a memo.

Other comments

Programs have been written to map between RFC 1807 records and structured USMARC cataloguing records, and also from USMARC to this RFC.

Format issues


The format makes use of self-explaining alphabetic tags (field-ID's) to designate the fields. The four extra fields that were added to the old format (RFC 1357) are: handle, other_access, keyword and withdraw.


Basic descriptive elements

Subject description


Two fields are available for location and access data:

Resource format and technical characteristics

No separate fields.

Host administrative details

There are ORGANIZATION and CONTACT fields for the publishing organization and the contact for the author(s) respectively. Their are no additional fields for data pertaining to the host organization providing the report, or the contact of the host.

Administrative metadata


Terms of availability/copyright

Rules for the construction of data elements

The format is not designed for use with specific catoguing rules. Guidelines for the content of the fields are given in RFC 1807.

Multi-lingual issues

Ability to represent relationships between objects

Not many linking facilities. In the revision field a link is made to the obsolete record that is to be replaced.


Medium. As the format is specially designed for the description of technical reports, a number of fields are only relevant to this kind of material and the format is not especially suited for the description of other kinds of documents.

Protocol issues

The format is designed for sending data of technical reports by e-mail. The RFC defines only the format of bibliographic records, not the way to process them.


RFC 1807 is used by the Cornell University Dienst architecture (which provides an open, distributed digital library, of which all the services make use of the Dienst protocol) and by the Stanford University SIFT system (newsgroups).

RFC 1807 has been in use by the five ARPA-funded computer science institutions to exchange bibliographic records (Cornell, Stanford, UC, MIT and Carnegie Mellon University).

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Last updated: 10-Jun-1998