MARC must die

While I agree with the premise of Tennant’s article MARC Must Die, I think it’s important to bear in mind what a successful format MARC has been.  Libraries have functioned on databases of MARC records for several decades now.  MARC records are the foundation of the OCLC network, which allows libraries across the globe to see one another’s holdings and copy one another’s records. They offer a stable, reliable framework for bibliographic information, which has integrity.  It takes time to change such a dense and longstanding structure.  It seems as though the transition to a new, more contemporary, bibliographic paradigm will continue to be relatively slow and incremental.   For example, the Library of Congress formally began formatting records in the R.D.A. standard just last year  – a shift that took many years of debate and revision before it was implemented, and which still depends on the MARC framework.  While MARC is certain to be phased out, I think it will remain an important milestone, and a slow evolution seems more likely than a sudden death.




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