MARC Must Die

The MARC record format seems antiquated and overly complex. Being able to understand different ways up marking up data has recently begun to seem similar to being multilingual, as I’ve been learning HTML/CSS/Java/Javascript recently. It is clear that AACR2 and MARC records were both initially developed to translate paper catalogs into computer catalogs. Now that so much is digitized, it seems that bibliographic data could exist in a syntax that is both human readable and machine readable. The syntax of MARC has more in common with other simple markup languages that information professionals and the general public will, more and more so, encounter on a daily basis. Furthermore, XML is not isolated to the library community, its unique vendors and softwares, etc. Other markup languages use XML data or have the capability to read it/parse it and use it as input to accomplish different tasks. You could, for example, load bibliographic information into another programming language to produce analytics. Because XML data is not static and flat, but is object oriented and loaded in “strings” and “threads” it has more fluidity and can be more easily restructured into different info organization systems. If a new standard for data emerges, this computer/human language will be more easily updated to another one than the current paper/computer language of MARC.

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