The RLG Partners working group that has been gathering and analyzing evidence over the past two years about MARC tag usage to inform library metadata practices completed its work. The 72-page Implications of MARC Tag Usage on Library Metadata Practices report was published on March 12 â€” with links to thirteen detailed data tables for those who love to immerse themselves in statistics. Theyâ€™re spreadsheets, so you can also filter and sort the data as you like.
The working groupâ€™s studies focused on machine applications. This is an important user category that has generally been ignored in user studies. Â MARC data is also used for machine matching and manipulations, linking, harvesting, collection analysis, ranking, and providing systematic views of publications. If we envision a future of linked data so that all the work information professionals have invested into creating and maintaining legacy MARC data are available to the rest of the information universe, machine applications will become increasingly important. Future encoding schemas will need to have a robust MARC crosswalk to ingest our millions of legacy records.
We believe that MARC data cannot continue to exist in its own discrete environment. It will need to be leveraged and used in other domains to reach users in their own networked environments. With the increase of digitized full text from various mass digitization efforts, we advise MARC practitioners to focus on authorized names, classifications, identifiers, and controlled vocabularies that key-word searching of full-text will not provide, rather than on â€śdescriptive metadataâ€ť.
The working group held a Webinar on March 18, 2010 to discuss its findings and projections for MARCâ€™s future with those interested. I was grateful that Catherine Argus at the National Library of Australia was willing to get up extra early to present her work, at 7:00 am local time, so that RLG Partner staff on the east coast of the US could join the discussion at 4:00 pm EDT. A couple of Catherineâ€™s colleagues at the NLA also listened in. Lisa Rowlison de Ortiz (University of California, Berkeley), who collaborated on the executive summary which pulled together all our work and presented the working groupâ€™s views on MARCâ€™s future summarized above, also joined the discussion. The recording of that Webinar will be available on the OCLC Researchâ€™s Webinars page soon.
The working group members each selected a topic to research, and then wrote a report summarizing the findings, which we presented during the Webinar: