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CODE4LIB  January 2009

CODE4LIB January 2009

Subject:

MARC 21 and MODS

From:

Rebecca S Guenther <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Code for Libraries <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 28 Jan 2009 14:29:26 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (1 lines)

In response to some of the recent posts on this list (some excerpted below)...

People often confuse what is required by the MARC 21 syntax with what is in the element set and with what content rules are applied to populate the elements (I saw some of this confusion in the various posts on this topic on this list). With MARCXML we have solved some of the MARC classic communication format problems (e.g. using the directory structure to parse the record), although there are still some of the same limitations in terms of coded data and the availability of enough subfields. It is interesting though that a study of different metadata formats at Los Alamos National Labs a few years ago concluded that MARCXML was the richest and most robust.
http://www.dlib.org/dlib/september06/goldsmith/09goldsmith.html

MODS began as an open process to develop an XML format that would be highly compatible with MARC data but simpler and easier to understand and rich enough to satisfy user needs.  We have now had about 7 years to experiment with it and it has been fairly successful in achieving a wide implementation base. It does attempt to solve some of MARC's obvious problems, for instance redundant data throughout the record; tagging for where data appears in the record rather than what it is; limitations of 3 character numeric tags and 26 alphabetic characters; etc. It allows for lots of extensibility both in use of controlled vocabularies developed within or outside of the format, addition of local fields, use of external schemas, etc. The related Item area is very flexible and has proven quite powerful in its use of the same data elements as MODS itself (particularly for whole/part relationships). Yes, some features retain some of the kludges in MARC, and if we were starting again we might have done some things differently. The MODS Editorial Committee is going to be looking at some of these areas and suggesting changes (as mentioned by Jenn Riley). Now, though, since there are quite a large number of users, we have to be careful about too much disruption. 

MODS has been particularly successful in digital library projects where compatibility with MARC is important because MARC records are being reused and/or MODS and MARC records need to be used together in the same context. It also has been widely used as a common format between disparate database structures and formats where a certain amount of richness in the metadata is important.

We are also working on modeling MODS as RDF-- some work has already been done on this. 

In terms of MARC, we are planning for its evolution and streamlining to get rid of some of its problems and plan for a future where the transition to new cataloging rules will work well with existing records and cataloging infrastructure. Whatever the format of the future is, the transition will need to be evolutionary because of the billions of records that are out there and the need to satisfy a lot of the user tasks required of library (and other) metadata. Another factor is the continuing need for the other MARC formats (in addition to bibliographic): authority, holdings, even classification. There will still need to be interaction between these various types of records to satisfy user tasks. It is also worth noting that despite some calls for a MARC replacement, we have a number of national libraries throughout the world that are abandoning their national formats and just now adopting MARC 21. They also need to be considered in this transition.

Rebecca

------------------------------

Date:    Tue, 27 Jan 2009 18:11:04 +0100
From:    Alexander Johannesen <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: marc21 and usmarc

On Tue, Jan 27, 2009 at 18:06, Jonathan Rochkind <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Because their customers are not demanding it, and they
> often don't have the technical expertise to understand
> why it matters anyway.  But mainly because
> their customers are not demanding it.

So, um, could librarians everywhere start being just a tad bit more
demanding about this stuff? You know, before your profession becomes
obsoleted from this planet?

Actually, I was wondering what areas MODS can't handle which MARC
does, hijack and / or change MODS to fit it (what I know of it seems a
bit limiting, but through XML certainly extensible). Shouldn't folks
start by demanding at least MODS (or XOBIS if we're *really* crazy :)?


Regards,

Alex
-- 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Project Wrangler, SOA, Information Alchemist, UX, RESTafarian, Topic Maps
------------------------------------------ http://shelter.nu/blog/ --------
------------------------------
------------------------------

Date:    Tue, 27 Jan 2009 10:50:41 -0800
From:    Karen Coyle <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: marc21 and usmarc

Kyle Banerjee wrote:
>   
>> Actually, I was wondering what areas MODS can't handle which MARC
>> does, hijack and / or change MODS to fit it (what I know of it seems a
>> bit limiting, but through XML certainly extensible). Shouldn't folks
>> start by demanding at least MODS (or XOBIS if we're *really* crazy :)?
>>     
>
> Frankly, the important stuff is there and it would be possible to
> modify MODS to accommodate the things that aren't. The main reason
> you're stuck with MARC is that there are a lot of legacy loaders out
> there so even if all transmission was done in MODS, you'd still have
> to convert it to MARC.
>
>   
I am less optimistic about MODS than Kyle. Having watched it be made, I 
think it's more than just a bit of a kludge, and carries forward a lot 
of the problems of MARC21. I also don't think that it has a strong model 
or philosophy behind it. I think we can do much, much better. What is 
stopping us is what comes up here: you can create a better record, but 
that doesn't mean that library systems will use it. Even so, I'm up for 
trying to create that better record, and I'm even up for creating one 
that is compatible with library cataloging practices, at least in their 
intent. Some of us talked about this on the exhibits floor of ALA just 
in the last few days.

I will start by re-organizing a document I did a few years ago but that 
was never publicly released. I'll do a new, public version and post it, 
then wiki it so we can have the discussion. Also, I think that the 
cataloger scenarios in the DC/RDA wiki are beginning to show what one 
can do with the FRBR assumption behind the record.

kc

-- 
-----------------------------------
Karen Coyle / Digital Library Consultant
[log in to unmask] http://www.kcoyle.net
ph.: 510-540-7596   skype: kcoylenet
fx.: 510-848-3913
mo.: 510-435-8234
------------------------------------

Date:    Tue, 27 Jan 2009 18:32:48 -0500
From:    "Riley, Jenn" <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: marc21 and usmarc

> I am less optimistic about MODS than Kyle. Having watched it be made, I 
> think it's more than just a bit of a kludge, and carries forward a lot 
> of the problems of MARC21. I also don't think that it has a strong model 
> or philosophy behind it. I think we can do much, much better. 

I agree with Karen's characterization of how MODS has developed since its inception. The good news is that will hopefully change soon. The newly formed MODS/MADS Editorial Committee is developing a design principles document that will help guide future versions of MODS and MADS. We'd gratefully welcome feedback on what those principles should be. The MODS list [1] is probably the best place for that discussion to take place, but some of the Committee members are on this list too, so ideas brought up here won't be lost on that group. I suspect we'll have a draft document to share on the MODS list in the next month or so, but ideas for what should be on it before then are even more valuable. :-)

[1] http://listserv.loc.gov/listarch/mods.html

Jenn 
(Chair, MODS/MADS Editorial Committee)

========================
Jenn Riley
Metadata Librarian
Digital Library Program
Indiana University - Bloomington
Wells Library W501
(812) 856-5759
www.dlib.indiana.edu

Inquiring Librarian blog: www.inquiringlibrarian.blogspot.com




Rebecca S. Guenther                                                       
 Senior Networking and Standards Specialist                  
 Network Development and MARC Standards Office     
 Library of Congress   
 101 Independence Ave. SE                                       
 Washington, DC 20540                                                      
 Washington, DC 20540-4402                                          
 (202) 707-5092 (voice)    (202) 707-0115 (FAX)           
 [log in to unmask]

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