Monday, August 29, 2005


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Karen Coyle has some interesting things to say about FRBR and the future of MARC. This dovetails with some of what I've been thinking about lately. At the very least, MARC standards are going to need a serious overhaul to reflect the kind of entity-relationship modeling present in FRBR and FRAR. I suspect that at the end of such an overhaul, the MARC standards would not much resemble their present form.

The bugaboo here, of course, is how to create a communications metadata standard for bibliographic data that will be backwards compatible with current MARC data while still taking advantage of entity-relationship models for data storage, communication, and retrieval. I think that our legacy data is both an incredibly rich resource and foundation for building library catalogs of the future, and the single greatest obstacle in the way of creating such catalogs.

I don't have a real answer to this issue, but I do suspect that beginning of finding a way to deal with this will be moving the MARC standards in the direction of accommodating entity-relationship data-models and effectively representing the relationships inherent in those models. That may provide a path toward maintaining the enormous legacy of bibliographic data libraries have already created while moving into more flexible ways of organizing and providing that information to users.