Goodbye MARC. Hello RDF!

This just in: The Library of Congress has officially called for the replacement of MARC with a more web-friendly metadata schema.

The new bibliographic framework project will be focused on the Web environment, Linked Data principles and mechanisms, and the Resource Description Framework (RDF) as a basic data model.  The protocols and ideas behind Linked Data are natural exchange mechanisms for the Web that have found substantial resonance even beyond the cultural heritage sector.

I’m not expert in MARC, but I’ve seen enough to recall the sound of nails scratching that other fading technology known as a chalkboard every time I have to work with it.

As Library of Congress puts it very well in their statement, MARC was designed before the Internet and is seriously showing its age. Moreover, (and this part I certainly can’t confirm), they say that the emerging RDA standard (weren’t they talking about that when I was in Librarian school?), will likely fail if libraries don’t replace MARC.

Like the blurb above states, a new framework will allow linkages between digital records in libraries and other online resources much in the way that non-library systems are interlinked via URIs. That is, if you go to your library’s “catalog” you’ll be able to navigate seamlessly from the library record of a given article, say on Elvis, to an IMDB listing of Elvis’ filmography or to a distributed collection of images of Elvis.

Now that would truly do justice to the King. I can’t wait.


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