Let me start with a disclaimer: I am a cataloger and manager of other catalogers, but by no means an expert in data frameworks, or Bibframe. Still, I have been following its development carefully and consider myself a "informed amateur" on the topic.

While it's certainly too early to tell, what I most hope to see come out of Bibframe is that it will enable catalogers to move away from a record-based system of recording and managing bibliographic metadata (i.e., MARC) and toward a data framework-based system. Because Bibframe allows metadata to be manipulated in a more granular way that MARC.

Presently, catalogers spend too much time fussing over problems that are primarily driven by the fact that we can only really accept an entire record or reject it.  So we too often run into situations where, for example, there is some good metadata on a sketchy record, or worse: sketchy metadata on a "good" (i.e. PCC, or LC) record. We can and do address these problems, either by fixing the "good" record (if we have the appropriate bona fides to do so) or simply by modifying the record locally.

Moreover, given the profusion of *records* (which is not the same as the profusion of *data* since so many of the records in OCLC are in fact duplicates) we end up having to do a fair amount of sifting through results to find the one record that suits our needs.

In addition, since the product of cataloging is wrapped up in records, libraries tend to have little choice about what kind of, or how much metadata they want. For each item (manifestation, if you like) the assumption is that there will be a single, universal record. But not all libraries have the same needs or wants, and so libraries may make local changes to records. Yet all of that work is difficult to share with others in the present environment, because the "network" as it were is shaped like a wheel, with a few shared databases sitting in the center ("hubs") and everyone else connected directly to them ("spokes").

I would love to see a future where the network over which catalogers share information is more of a true network. Instead of going to large, shared databases like OCLC to search for records, we could use identifying information like ISBN, author-title-publication, etc., to go out and find the metadata that is most current and relevant to our libraries' particular needs, wherever it happens to be, and collect that. I could see libraries of various sorts having individualized profiles for the type of metadata they need, or even being able to set and rank which sources of metadata they consider trustworthy and useful (for example: accept PCC metadata, but if that's not available, accept non-PCC contributed metadata, and if that's not available, accept publisher-supplied metadata.)

Ultimately we could move away from the paradigm of having large central databases like OCLC and toward more of a peer-to-peer model, where libraries can share metadata in real-time across a network of partner organizations.

Is this future a possibility or just a pipe dream? I don't really know but it does seem like BibFrame is currently the closest thing to a realistic way of achieving it.


Benjamin Abrahamse
Cataloging Coordinator
Acquisitions and Discovery Enhancement
MIT Libraries

From: Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Meehan, Thomas
Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 8:56 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [BIBFRAME] Thoughts about Bibframe

Dear all,

Hello. I am preparing a presentation on Bibframe for the autumn and am particularly interested in getting a general sense of what the community thinks of the Bibframe initiative and, in particular, how people see it developing and being implemented in the future. I would love to hear any views on this, especially from a wide section of the community (cataloguers, systems people, vendors, those working with linked data already, etc.). If you prefer, please feel free to contact me off-list or point me at write-ups (e.g. blog posts) that express your views. I would be very happy to receive even a brief indication of your thoughts.

I will treat any personal communications as confidential and will not quote from them without permission.

Many thanks,



Thomas Meehan
Head of Current Cataloguing
Library Services
University College London
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT

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