On Tue, Jan 27, 2009 at 11:56 AM, Kyle Banerjee <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> The basic problem is that the real value of a catalog is its
> consistency, and the legacy data in these fields is already too
> inconsistent to have much value.
> The good news is that despite the fact that some fields are just
> hopeless, many things in the catalog are decent. The consistency of
> structure and the quality of content in author, title, and subject
> fields is significantly better in a library catalog than it is in
> other sources. That is why faceting works pretty well.
This is a very good point -- the parts of the MARC record that people
actually *use* tend to be reasonably OK. When they aren't, they tend
to get corrected. Hence, you can use the good parts of the records to
do useful things.
The crappy, inconsistent bits of the record? Ignore 'em. Don't expose
them. Let actual use dictate what gets exposed, and how.
Sure, MARC is an ugly, nasty binary format, and could be replaced by
Something Better. MP3 is another nasty format -- but somehow, Ogg
Vorbis hasn't replaced it, despite its technical superiority. iTunes
manages to be a very good media player, even though MP3s suck as much
as they did 15 years ago. Good collection search and management tools
can be built on top of MARC.
While it's _fun_ to complain about ugly data structures, it's _more
productive_ to build libraries and products that abstract away the
I don't think the merits of MARC will determine the future of
libraries any more than the merits of MP3 will determine the future of
the music industry.