Posting to Autocat
On 05/05/2011 12:06 AM, Elise Wong wrote:
I know this is rather an old discussion but as I recently got my first exposure to metadata I remember an old saying “Marc is dead.” coined by Roy Tennant (http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA250046.html). I am a traditional cataloging librarian and as I am thinking that library world is transitioning fast from print to digital format, I began to worry the relevancy of MARC encoding standard (comparing to DC, MODS, VRA etc) in the digital world. Karen Coyle’s presentation (http://www.kcoyle.net/marcdead.html) is interesting as well. I understand that the preference of which metadata standard to be used depends on the uniqueness of the resources. My question is, what’s good about Marc in this print-digital world, or a born-digital world?
Granted, we still have print resources and yes MARC has been a great tool. If print goes away, is MARC dead too?
I have had long arguments about this on other lists. In my opinion, we first have to agree on what we say MARC is since there are two important and separate aspects to it: is it the standardized system of numbers and subfields that we all know (and love, of course!), or is it the format that libraries use to transfer their records, that is, ISO2709 format?
This is that weird format with all of the numbers:
01142cam 2200301 a 4500001001300000003000400013005001700017008004100034010001700075020002500092040001800117042000900135050002600144082001600170100003200186245008600218250001200304260005200316300004900368500004000417520022800457650003300685650003300718650002400751650002100775650002300796700002100819 92005291 DLC 19930521155141.9 920219s1993 caua j 000 0
eng a 92005291 a0152038655 : c$15.95
aDLC cDLC dDLC alcac 00 aPS3537.A618 bA88 1993 00 a811/.52 220 1
aSandburg, Carl, d1878-1967. 10 aArithmetic / cCarl Sandburg ;
illustrated as an anamorphic adventure by Ted Rand. a1st ed. aSan Diego : bHarcourt Brace Jovanovich, cc1993. a1 v. (unpaged) : bill.
(some col.) ; c26 cm. aOne Mylar sheet included in pocket. aA poem about numbers and their characteristics. Features anamorphic, or distorted, drawings which can be restored to normal by viewing from a
particular angle or by viewing the image’s reflection in the provided
Mylar cone. 0 aArithmetic xJuvenile poetry. 0 aChildren’s poetry, American. 1 aArithmetic xPoetry. 1 aAmerican poetry. 1 aVisual perception. 1 aRand, Ted, eill.
Whenever we transfer a record into our catalog, this is the way it comes. Then, our catalogs parse it out and put the bits and pieces in various places internally, normally in some kind of relational database fashion (each catalog will do this differently). If someone downloads your record from your catalog, the computer recompiles the ISO2709 format with all of the numbers.
In my opinion, the ISO2709 aspect of MARC really should die because it forces us into an incredible loss of flexibility in a whole variety of ways. There is less need to change the standardized system of numbers and subfields, since systems can display those numbers and subfields however somebody wants, although this too, will have to change soon enough. Still, we can’t really talk about changing the system of numbers and subfields without dumping ISO2709. Implementing FRBR would be more
or less impossible with ISO2709.
It is important to realize that not everyone agrees with me on this by any means and the debate remains open. The arguments are on my blog (at least my own postings), but of course, I think I am right! 🙂
I personally believe that MARC in a more flexible form could handle almost any kind of material, and certainly could handle anything electronic. The real problem is far more basic and not commented upon very often: can a resource that, by its very nature, changes randomly and without notice such as online resources, be described by a static metadata record, no matter what the format? Trying to keep the static record up-to-date results in playing a never-ending, and demoralizing, game of catch-up. The real problem of cataloging websites is not with the description and organization aspects, it is the *maintenance of that record to ensure that it reflects the current state of the resource* that takes the entire matter onto a different level. We have not had these problems with printed items, except for looseleaf publications, and we managed to deal with them to a point. The level of change with online resources however, make our normal procedures completely inadequate.
To create something that can successfully deal with these problems efficiently will need true innovation and neither FRBR nor RDA deal with them.
Yes, I think there are solutions, but they would mean real changes.