LIS 653–MARC response–Maureen McElroy

So I think I have a basic understand of MARC–a standard system that information is added and arranged to create a bibliographic record.  There are obvious limitations, but there are limitations with everything.

I think Roy Tennant in his article, “MARC Must Die,” needs to take it down a notch.  Starting with his opening sentence, “When MARC was created, the Beatles were a hot new group and those of us alive at the time wore really embarrassing clothes and hairstyles”–okay.  The Beatles were new, so its been around for a while, but one cannot diminish the impact of the Beatles or their huge influence and most people know who the Beatles are and their music.    “Embarrassing clothes and hairstyles”–that is everyone regardless of when they were born–look pictures from 5 or 10 years.

I think he is being a little dramatic–MARC needs to die–really.  Yes, the MARC system probably does need a major overhaul and more information added, better utilized information, flexibility, and keeping up with technology.  He seems to think that XML is answer.  I work in the trademark industry and we use XML.  I know we use XML so we are able to download data from around the world so we can download information to create our databases–information is put into a uniform record.  However, not every country provides data in a uniform way–there is no standard.  Even if MARC ended, you would still need a uniform system–there is worse when trying to compare records and not all of the basic information is not provided in the same way.  You are constantly wondering if it is just an incomplete record, an error, or a problem with the data.

Does MARC need to die or get an extreme makeover?  Perhaps there is a better answer–combing a uniform system (MARC) with a more flexible information system (XML).   Uniformity will have always limitations and technology will always a short shelf life–XML might be the solution today but what about in a few years.  It seems both sides of the issue need to be addressed together.

There probably is reason that the Beatles are still popular and considered groundbreaking, even if we aren’t listening to them on vinyl anymore.  With MARC, a uniform system of information is still important even if it is not in the same format.


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