Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lingua franca

So, as I said a few days ago, I have been out of the library game for awhile. But I have a persistent question regarding MARC and BIBFRAME. Maybe it’s been answered already, and if so, some kind person needs to point me to the answer so I can lay my feelings to rest on the matter.

Here’s my question: BIBFRAME is in English. Does this bother people? Did it once bother a lot of people and it's now all fixed up and has a resolution?

I know that English has become sort of the lingua franca (haha) of the digital world, but I’ve always seen the strength in MARC as its language independence. I may not speak German, and the German across from me doesn’t speak English, but we both know what a 300 field is. BIBFRAME is, I’ve heard, being experimented with by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Are they using a translated version that has a crosswalk to English? Or is it just English and they have to learn it? How do they feel about this? How do other countries’ library folks feel about this English-centric model? I’m so curious, and I haven’t really had time to dig very deep into this question of mine in search of answers, but it seems absolutely of vital importance if this is supposed to be a framework on which we rest all of our future cataloging. Which is why I assume that someone smarter than me has figured this out already. I just don't know what they did about it, and would like to.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Well, it’s officially been what? a year and a half since I last posted on this blog. I’m back in the library world after a hiatus due to babies, and of course I have things to say about things again. And since this blog was just sitting around and not doing anything (figures…lazy blogs), I decided that I can start using it again for my blatherings.

And do I have something to blather on about?! Yes, yes I do.

There was a Webinar. Hosted by NISO and by DCMI, it featured Mr. Eric Miller and he talked for 90 minutes about BIBFRAME (which I hear has its own website now checkitoutlook!).

I am so excited about BIBFRAME that I actually went home and told my husband all about it. I never do this, by the way, because he’s a very nice man and also an attorney who doesn’t even know who Tim Berners-Lee is. Anyway, so I went home and started to explain why we are in the position of needing a new metadata schema for bibliographic entities, and I only got to the point of explaining MARC and he said “that seems clunky—why don’t they just make it so that the records can be searched by Google?” And then I had to say “you ruined my whole story.”

That is what BIBFRAME, if and when it gets on its feet, is supposed to do. It’s going to open up bibliographic data to the World in the form of tagged data that can be searched by the search engines on the internet. I’ve been telling all my (non-librarian, non-cataloger) friends about this, and they all get wide eyes and go “Ohhhhhh! That’s a good idea! I would love something like that.”

Yeah, no kidding.

I also had a thought regarding the paradox of vendors who say “we will change the metadata schema for bibliographic records when our customers demand it” and the customers (libraries) who say “We can’t change schemas until our vendor changes it, and every time we ask if they’re working on RDA, they say they are but we have no evidence of this!” Eric Miller seemed to suggest in that webinar that what should happen is that the librarians should march on the vendors and demand a change. And everyone in the room with me when he said that literally laughed out loud like crazy loons. So I thought to myself: wouldn’t it be more beneficial if Eric Miller went to the vendors and said “I have a solution to your problem with implementing RDA. It’s called BIBFRAME and it’s going to rock your socks.”
"Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness." —Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril.