Response #2: Emily Moyer

Roy Tennant’s article “MARC Must Die” sums up the inadequacies of the almost fifty year old MARC standards. The “complicated syntax” and “needless obfuscation” of MARC is antithetical to the transparency and collaboration that is encouraged today in the forms of tagging, crowdsourcing, and collective cataloging. Although MARC was innovative for the time it was created, it is a strictly controlled system that does not allow for flexibility. For the novice cataloger it is a challenging task to determine the right tags, indicators, and subfield codes to correctly create a MARC record.

Tennant also addresses the problems with trying to incorporate additional information into MARC records which he basically comes to the conclusion is like fitting a square peg into a round hole: possible, but not pretty. Libraries are doing a disservice to their patrons by making it difficult to create and retrieve records.

This article was written in 2002 however, the MARC issue still seems to still be a topic of discussion today. Within that time the Bibliographic Framework Initiative (BIBFRAME) proposed that the MARC format and standards be transitioned into a “linkable information resource” or Linked Data Model. In comparison to MARC, the BIBFRAME Model relies on the relationships between resources instead of individualized records. The BIBFRAME Model is still in early testing, but at least some new options seem to be percolating.


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