Friday, January 14, 2011

RE: Browse and search RDA test data

Posting to RDA-L

Bernhard Eversberg wrote:
<snip>
About current MARC practice, your'e right.
While I've never been a dyed-in-the-wool MARC enthusiast, I'm realist enough to recognize that any migration into something else, and then what really?, would be a galactic task. There will have to be a MARC implementation of those ER values or RDA will remain either a theorist's glass bead game, or it will live on as nothing more than the dumbed-down version reflected in that test stuff. The ALL CAPS skirmish drawing on forever and overshadowing all the rest of the
endeavor.
</snip>
Well, when you look at it that way, in this sense it's another one of those retrospective conversion projects that probably everybody on this list has known and loved. When I was doing research on the history of the library catalog of Princeton University, I found ten or twelve conversions since 1755, including when the library burned down a couple of times. (I include recopying the manuscript book catalogs in this, because things were normally reconsidered, reclassed, etc. By the way, one letter I found from a cataloger in 1866 was unforgettable since he was describing the work he was doing and would lose his mind just a few months later!)

When comparing those jobs with what faces us now, I think this conversion will be much easier than before, i.e. in the sense of the actual work, but the task itself is far more complex. It's difficult at this point to understand exactly what we should *convert into*, while it was easier to sit and copy records from one volume to another, or from one size card to another, or from the card to the MARC record, etc. This is on a completely different plane.

My own suggestion would be to do this as quickly as possible with a minimum of information loss. So, the conversion itself could be done incredibly fast by converting to MARCXML (yes, I know that's bad) but at least then we would gain some genuine flexibility to be able to share records. An application profile could be drawn up to allow inclusion of XML information from other projects and perhaps allow some of the more specific relationships mandated by FRBR/RDA (which are in our records now but some are not coded so specifically).

This could probably be done rather quickly, and some open source catalogs created to deal with these records could be devised, since many exist now. Koha, for instance, works on MARCXML. Some internal tweaking would be needed, but perhaps not all that much.

Of course, the separate records/entities for WEMI would be thrown overboard, at least for the foreseeable future, but people probably know my opinion on that....

I think this would be a definite step forward, but a small one.

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