Sunday, December 26, 2010

RE: ONIX data

Posting to NGC4LIB


Karen Coyle wrote:
<snip>
It's not just conforming to standards or levels of standards: ONIX data has a different *purpose* from library data.
...
So even if the publishers perfectly follow their own standards, their records will not look like ours. And that is not a bad thing. We should be able to take what is useful for us from the publisher records, or link to them for further information. It's a different view, and a legitimately different view.
This would be easier to do if our record format were more open. You can't grab someone else's bit of data and add it into a MARC record. (It should be possible to combine publisher data into a MODS record, and I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has done that.) We need to see other peoples' data as additive, not a substitute, as I said before.
</snip>

This is correct, but it doesn't cover the whole of the problem. The world of metadata is far bigger than just library metadata and ONIX from the publishers, but there are lots of different types of metadata that we need to interoperate with, each with their own purposes, including a whole variety of open archives. We need to interoperate with all of this because our patrons want those resources. That was why I placed that "Conceptual Outline" section in the Cooperative Cataloging Rules Wiki http://sites.google.com/site/opencatalogingrules/, to try to allow metadata creators to begin to get some kind of understanding of what others are doing. Not much has gone on there, but maybe it will eventually.

Nevertheless, while it is true that cataloging the same thing in different ways because of "different purposes" is being done now and will continue to be done for awhile, I believe it will prove to be a luxury that is financially unsustainable in the long run, just as the cooperative cataloging movement changed so much in libraries in the past. Our records are being mashed up now in Google Books and will continue to be--whether we like it or not--and doubtless Google Books will not be the only place these mashups will exist. This will force major changes. Somehow, I think bibliographic standards need to be reconsidered in this regard.

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