Weekly Response #2- Katherine K.

The two articles that stood out to me were “MARC must die” by R. Tennent and What is a MARC record, and why is it important? from the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress article did a better job at explaining what MARC is in a non-complicated form. I felt Chowdhury’s article, while it had similar information, was not as simplified as the Library of Congress article. Upon doing some more research on the subject of MARC, I can sympathize with both article’s need to show the benefits and negative sides of this bibliographic form. Examples I found on Google images seemed like it was pretty straight-forward, once you understood all its terms.


Source: https://www.libraries.psu.edu/psul/cataloging/training/marctaggingintro.html 

However, the quote that sticks out to me the most about MARC itself comes from Tennent’s article “MARC Must die”:

“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. Computers were so large, complex, and expensive that it was ludicrous to think that you would one day have one in your home, let alone hold one in the palm of your hand. Although age by itself is not necessarily a sign of technological obsolescence (how much has the wooden pencil improved in the last 40 years?), when it comes to computer standards it is generally not a good thing. The very nature of the MARC (machine-readable cataloging) record is, to some degree, an anachronism. It was developed in an age when memory, storage, and processing power were all rare and expensive commodities. Now they are ubiquitous and cheap.”

While from my own limited experience with MARC, while it does seem relatively simple, I am always in favor of adapting to new software and technologies. Since it was created around the 1960’s, it does seem like enough time to create a new program that should have taken its place by now. Out of curiosity, I looked into MARCXML, but sadly there wasn’t enough development put into this project. It seems like it would be worth it to pursue a new technology, perhaps even made by a librarian. From one of my other classes, my teacher remarked how amazing it was that a librarian’s role has changed and we now have the potential to work with programmers, from grants we can obtain, in order to make new software. While it can be difficult, it can be worth it in the end to discover how to make this new technology when it comes to creating bibliographic records. I agree with Tennent’s statement that in terms of making new technology: “We did it once over 30 years ago, and we can do it again.”


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