> There is a lot of redundant data in MARC that is an encoded form of
> something that elsewhere is expressed as text -- somewhat controlled text,
> but text............ Much of this redundant input (think of the time!) could
> be eliminated if we quit keying text strings but allowed the display to
> derive from the coded data.
> ......because it does not get input consistently, it's hard to base any
> functionality on it since that functionality would apply only to a somewhat
> random subset of the records in the database.
The reality with fixed fields is that few are used by *any* system. That
provides a disincentive to spend loads of time (i.e. money) mucking about
with them, particularly since they lack expressivity and practical use cases
are not that compelling.
In any case, even if everything suddenly started getting entered
consistently today, you'd still have to deal with all the legacy data.
Cataloging practices change. For example, the form subdivisions mentioned
early in this thread have only been stored in |v for a few years now.
Thoroughness of records is highly variable.
This means that systems need to be built around the assumption that data are
only somewhat consistent. As a result parsing and normalizing text is a far
more realistic approach than messing with fixed fields.