MARC 21 is a result of the combination of the United States and Canadian MARC formats (USMARC and CAN/MARC). MARC21 is based on the ANSI standard Z39.2, which allows users of different software products to communicate with each other and to exchange data.MARC 21 was designed to redefine the original MARC record format for the 21st century and to make it more accessible to the international community. MARC 21 has formats for the following five types of data: Bibliographic Format, Authority Format, Holdings Format, Community Format, and Classification Data Format.Currently MARC 21 has been implemented successfully by The British Library, the European Institutions and the major library institutions in the United States, and Canada.
MARC 21 allows the use of two character sets, either MARC-8 or Unicode encoded as UTF-8. MARC-8 is based on ISO 2022 and allows the use of Hebrew, Cyrillic, Arabic, Greek, and East Asian scripts. MARC 21 in UTF-8 format allows all the languages supported by Unicode.