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BIBFRAME  March 2015

BIBFRAME March 2015

Subject:

Re: Linked data

From:

James Weinheimer <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative Forum <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 6 Mar 2015 14:44:07 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (98 lines)

Ross Singer wrote:
<snip>
Counterpoint: if libraries can do "anything they want" with their data and
have had 40+ years to do so, why haven't they done anything new or
interesting with it for the past 20?

How, with my MARC records alone, do I let people know that they might be
interested in "Clueless" if they're looking at "Sense and Sensibility"? How
do I find every Raymond Carver short story in the collection? The albums
that Levon Helm contributed to? How can I find every introduction by Carl
Sagan?  What do we have that cites them?

How, with my MARC records alone, can I definitively limit only to ebooks?
What has been published in the West Midlands?

You *could* make a 3-D day-glo print of a MARC record, I suppose - but that
seems like exactly the sort of tone deaf navel gazing that has rendered our
systems and interfaces more and more irrelevant to our users.
</snip>

Why haven't libraries done anything new or interesting with our data for 
the past 20 years? Is it because it has been *impossible* due to our 
formats, even though we now have XML? You ask an excellent and important 
question that I was hoping somebody would bring up. It deserves a 
separate discussion. But first I want to emphasize: I am not saying that 
we need to work with MARC records alone--never said that at all. What I 
am saying is that for the library community, that is, the people who 
already know and understand--and even control--MARC format, changing the 
format they already control to Bibframe will not give them any new 
capabilities over what they have been able to do with MARCXML. 
*Librarians* understand the MARC codes and that means they can work with 
MARCXML to fold in their records with what else exists on the Internet; 
they can do that now, and they've been able to do it for awhile. 
Changing to Bibframe/RDF will not change anything for librarians, but it 
will change matters for non-librarians who may want to use our data for 
their purposes. Nevertheless, a *lot* of work will remain to be done. It 
isn't like after we change to Bibframe, we can fly onto the deck of the 
aircraft carrier festooned with banners that proclaim "Mission 
Accomplished". It will only be the beginning of a vast amount of work 
and expense. It seems to me to make sense to talk about that now.

So, if we can already do anything and haven't, the obvious question is: 
why will anything change with Bibframe/RDF? again, I stress: this 
concerns *the library community*. Non-librarians will have new options 
but there will not be any new capabilities for the library community. 
Perhaps Bibframe will be a catalyst for change among librarians, 
providing a needed kick-in-the-pants to get them to do something they 
haven't until now. OK, I'd go along with that. But let's be fair and say 
that it is just as possible that it won't. Going back to the reason why 
we haven't done anything interesting in the last 20 years: maybe it's 
money, maybe it's imagination, maybe it's proprietary catalogs, maybe 
it's power.... I don't know, but there may be a whole host of other 
reasons.

Perhaps with Bibframe the non-librarian community will come riding to 
the rescue and they will figure out what to do. We can hope.

I wrote that message on Autocat to combat the popular idea that the 
reason libraries haven't done anything new or interesting is because of 
the limitations of the format. That was true until MARCXML arrived and 
then it became possible to do all sorts of new things. MARCXML may be 
nasty and difficult to work with, but no matter: if somebody wants to, 
it *can* be worked with *within the library community*. And people have 
worked with it, such as we see in catalogs that utilize Lucene indexing 
(which is based on MARCXML) to create the facets we see in different 
library catalogs. (That is one thing that has been done in the last 20 
years, and it is due to XML)

I gave the example of printing day-glo colors merely to emphasize that 
we can currently do anything we want right now, but of course, I was not 
suggesting we should waste our time on that. I want to try to open 
people's minds to what *can* be possible. *Anything* is a tremendous 
concept that is difficult to grasp. Once we accept and begin to 
comprehend the idea that "anything can be done" the question of what 
would be better, or worse, uses of our labor and resources becomes far 
more complex and takes on different subtleties. Those who believe that 
the problems we have faced are because of the *format* so therefore, the 
solution is to get a "better format" and things will then be solved, 
will be sadly disillusioned.

Finally, in answer to some other posts, I repeat once again that I am 
FOR the library community's implementation of linked data but we need to 
do it with our eyes open. I'll copy that part of my original message:
"I want again to emphasize that libraries should go into linked data, 
but when we do so, there will probably be more question marks than 
exclamation points. Just as when a couple is expecting a baby and they 
experience pregnancy: at least when I experienced it, I imagined that 
the birth of my son would be an end of the pregnancy. But suddenly, I 
had a crying baby on my hands! Linked data will be similar: it will be a 
beginning and not an end."

James Weinheimer [log in to unmask] First Thus 
http://blog.jweinheimer.net First Thus Facebook Page 
https://www.facebook.com/FirstThus Cooperative Cataloging Rules 
http://sites.google.com/site/opencatalogingrules/ Cataloging Matters 
Podcasts http://blog.jweinheimer.net/cataloging-matters-podcasts [delay 
+30 days]

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