Re: What is MARC format?

Posting to Autocat

On 09/07/2011 16:55, J. McRee Elrod wrote:

James Weinheimer said:

… there is the ISO2709 format which is used only to transfer complete catalog records (i.e. cards) among library catalogs, and this is definitely obsolete today.

MARC for transferring records at time of ILS migration is very much not obsolete today. Libraries which can’t get MARC out of an obsolete ILS are faced with a very expensive problem.

As I said, there is one use for the ISO2709 MARC format: for transferring complete catalog records from one library catalog to another. Period. That’s it. No other tool utilizes that format and it must always be transformed before it can be used anywhere. On the other hand, XML can be used by lots of tools out there, including browsers. [See below]

Because of this 1960s foundation, everything from then on becomes limited based on that format: limited>record length, a limited number of fields and subfields …

MARBI seems to have no difficulty adding fields and subfield. Consider the proposed overly complex 26X fields.

What I mean is that a single record can be no more than 99,999 because in the Leader, the first 5 positions (0-4) define the record length.Then comes the directory which defines the length of each field. I have seen repeated complaints on Autocat that the subfields are used up in some fields. With XML, there are none of these limitations.

and then concerning the information in the fixed fields, this is very difficult to extract without the special library software.

Have you tried reading XML without special software?

Yes, and you can too. All you  need is your browser, not some kind of special software that you have to download and learn. Here is a basic example: If you
look at the source code of this page, it is all XML and it uses thestylesheet to make it readable and useful. This page explains what is happening

Stylesheets can be extremely powerful. If these were MARCXML records, any browser can find, retrieve, resort and reformat a search result in XML in all kinds of ways–and on the fly if you want. By this I mean that I can automatically search a remote database, retrieve x number of records, and–if they are in XML–I can take just the parts I want, reformat those parts, resort them and do all kinds of things with them. People do it every day. I agree that MARCXML is not the best format, but at least it is possible to work with them. Nothing like that can be done with ISO2709 records. They are obsolete except to transfer virtual catalog cards from one library catalog to another. People need to be able to do much more than this and as a result, our records are ignored.

Also, a certain structure is embedded ISO2709. As I have mentioned, allowing for the possibility of multiple main entries …

Great. I do not wish to inhabit a bibliographic world of multiple main entries, whatever that could mean, with no set forms for bibliographies and citations, not to mention subject and added entries for works.

What multiple main entries means is that for Masters and Johnson, Johnson will be treated equally with Masters, which is how it should be. I submit that if there had never been book catalogs or card catalogs and we were setting things up from scratch today, nobody would ever come up with the idea of a single main entry. It is a remnant of the printed catalog.

In reality, there is primary and secondary authorship. I have mentioned in other messages how allowing multiple main headings would be very difficult in ISO2709 because of added and subject entries, if it is possible at all, but structuring it would be relatively easy in an XML format.

Again, a focus record transfer using XML instead of ISO2709 is not the complete solution, but one important step toward entering the larger information universe.

Considering bibliographical and citation formats, I have worked with them extensively, and am really doing so now as a consultant figuring out how to create citations for online statistical databases, and I have never seen any citation format that mandates a single main entry. People are supposed to list the authors as they appear on the t.p., using either full name or initial, and distinguish any editors, translators and others, in other words, indicate primary and secondary authorship, but I have never even heard of any citation format that directs people to figure out a single main entry.