March 2010 Archives
Of specific interest is the point made in the Executive Summary that, differently from other analyses of catalog and record use, this group focused on the use of MARC by machine applications. While the focus on "machine applications" may sound limiting, it is crucial in understanding how MARC is indexed and processed. This understanding can then lead to a more informed analysis of how to get more out of our search, discovery, and delivery systems. (For example, individuals participating in the OCLC Developer Network have created a number of innovative applications using machine-to-machine access to WorldCat data.)
Looking at the end of the Executive Summary, there is a list of assertions about "MARC's Future." Taken together, these form a call to quickly transition from MARC, and to do so in a way that allows us to "meet the demands ... from the rest of the information universe", using linked data and other solutions deployed both inside and outside of libraries. At once there is a push for reducing redundancy, enhancing flexibility, more quickly resolving the technical and social dilemmas around wide data sharing across systems, and being open to new approaches.
Many of the points made hearken back to "On The Record", the final report from the Library of Congress' Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control. That report recommended casting a wide net for data that could be used to help with organization and access. It identified eliminating redundancies as a key step in increasing record production efficiency, pushed for development of a new metadata carrier, and recommended a new focus on user needs over administrative requirements. And both reports show a frustration with the information locked up in MARC fields.
The final assertion in the MARC usage Executive Summary: "Rather than enhancing MARC and MARC-based systems, let's give priority to interoperability...."
Does the library world have the collective will to step away from MARC as recommended in these reports? What do you think?
We'll have a followup post examining some of the implications of specific parts of the study.
As an update on this post, we have made available recordings of the ALA session on the sustainability and economics of the collaborative national bibliographic framework. The recordings are linked from this page:http://www.oclc.org/us/en/multimedia/2010/alamw_techservices.htm
A short intro by Karen Calhoun highlights the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control report as an impetus for a new look at the role of cooperatives and national libraries in the descriptive environment.
Alisdair Ball's presentation provides useful information on the scale and profit/non-profit service mix of the British library. The description of the overall national framework provides a useful contrast to the US model, while retaining crucial environmental similarities. Ball also points out the SCONUL Shared Services Survey [Summary here: http://sconulss.blogspot.com/2009/06/shared-services-survey-headlines.html], which may be unfamiliar to some, which surveys the appetite among UK libraries for shared services.
Ruth Fischer of R2 Consulting provided an overview of the report they prepared on behalf of LC on the MARC record marketplace [Original report, our commentary]. While stressing the limited scope of R2's assignment from LC, she highlights the report's most important points: the high cataloging capacity that remains underused due to insufficient incentives, the distorting market effect of LC's record supply subsidy, and the disjunction between community and commercial values in the information market.
Brian Schottlaender of UC San Diego begins with a useful set of references to seminal reports and studies in the area. He asserts that environmental conditions have moved to a point where changes in cataloging practice are desirable and feasible. His presentation describes the steps that UC libraries have taken to determine the best and most efficient ways to take collaborative cataloging to a new level.
In the question and answer session, an attendee from Lyrasis offers personal anecdotes about the difficulties in shifting cataloging priorities. Jay Schaefer of University of Massachusetts Amherst, reacting to Schottlaender, discusses frankly the difficulties in large organizations with multiple employee classifications, leading to a valuable discussion of training. Diane Hillmann of Information Institute of Syracuse and Metadata Management Associates asks about the interplay between the trend toward making government information more open and possible moves toward cost-recovery for its production. Bob Wolven of Columbia University points out some areas in which catchphrases are emerging, leading to a discussion about unpacking the concept of "uniquely adding value." Kevin Randall cautions that the difference between "metadata work" and "cataloging" is overplayed, and separating the two is a false dichotomy. Robin Wendler of Harvard brings up points relating to the distribution and re-distribution of MARC records and the cost and restrictions engendered.
- A draft of the policy will be circulated to OCLC's Board of Trustees in April, for the Board to distribute to OCLC's Global and Regional Councils.The member comment period will be in April and May. Member comments will be incorporated into a new policy at the end of May.