Costs and benefits of standards

Sigfrid Lundberg's Stuff 2011-09-16

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For about fifteen years I've been active with both the creation and implementations of standards. I've been an evangelist for good metadata, good text encoding and sound internet standards. Good standards do help. In the library world we have the MARC bibliographic record as a prime example. Without such a standard it would have been much more difficult to establish the computerized library catalog as we know it. That concept has been the basis for a small but not insignificant branch of the software industry.

The uniform acceptance of the MARC format makes it possible to exchange records on a global scale across systems from different vendors. To the success we have to add the Z39.50 protocol for bibliorgraphic search and information retrieval, which has enabled us to cross-search virtually any library OPACS.

All this is indeed useful. But to prove that we've saved money is hard. The bibliographic records are created and maintained in workflows that are supported by sets of complicated cataloging rules. The bibliographic processes requires trained staff, often with academic education.

Now Library of Congress has finally reached the following conclusion: Recognizing that Z39.2/MARC are no longer fit for the purpose, work with the library and other interested communities to specify and implement a carrier for bibliographic information that is capable of representing the full range of data of interest to libraries, and of facilitating the exchange of such data both within the library community and with related communities. A Bibliographic Framework for the Digital Age

I sincerely think that this will lead to lesser costs for OPAC software. Noone knows if this will benefit the libraries or just increase the revenues of the software houses that will implement the next generation of library catalogs.

I doubt that RDA will be cheaper to use than AACR2.


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My name is Sigfrid Lundberg. The stuff I publish here may, or may not, be of interest for anyone else.

On this site there is material on photography, music, literature and other stuff I enjoy in life. However, most of it is related to my profession as an Internet programmer and software developer within the area of digital libraries. I have been that at the Royal Danish Library, Copenhagen (Denmark) and, before that, Lund university library (Sweden).

The content here does not reflect the views of my employers. They are now all past employers, since I retired 1 May 2023.

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