The National Library of Medicine ("NLM") has been collaborating with Library of Congress ("LC") on BIBFRAME development and experimentation from the Early Experimenters to the current Implementers.  The original goal of BIBFRAME (based on recommendations from the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control and the U.S. RDA Test Coordinating Committee) was to develop a data sharing standard to replace MARC that is web-based, flexible, and extensible beyond the traditional library cataloging community (i.e., rule agnostic). However, as NLM has experimented with BIBFRAME over the past several years, we are increasingly concerned that the vocabulary development, in attempting to become sufficiently aligned with traditional bibliographic cataloging, may hinder meeting all of BIBFRAME's goals, particularly those of flexibility and extensibility.

As a result of this concern, NLM has decided to take a step back from the current experimental vocabulary produced by LC to experiment with a more 'modular' approach to BIBFRAME.  Among the BIBFRAME Early Experimenters, the idea of a modular approach to BIBFRAME was briefly promulgated in which we would have a core BIBFRAME vocabulary that was generic enough to be shareable by the entire cultural heritage community.  It was proposed that such a core BIBFRAME vocabulary could be extended with existing descriptive schemes developed by the various sectors of the cultural heritage community, i.e., descriptive schemes developed by those with expertise in the resources being described.  In this model, as a descriptive scheme changes or evolves or is replaced, that extension to BIBFRAME can change accordingly, and, while mapping to the BIBFRAME core vocabulary may also need adjusting, the core vocabulary itself should not be heavily impacted, if at all.

This is the model (which we've characterized as 'modular' but might be considered a schema-defined profile in BIBFRAME-speak) that NLM intends to experiment with.  We believe that a successful proof of concept will demonstrate a BIBFRAME model and vocabulary that can meet all of BIBFRAME's original goals.  We intend to draft a core BIBFRAME vocabulary for experimentation (we fully understand that a workable core vocabulary will require collaboration from many communities, but we need to start with something) and extend it with RDA (using the RDA Registry Elements) and an NLM vocabulary for local data.  Our intention is to focus on generating new data in this model, but we will also experiment with conversion of legacy data.

NLM continues to work cooperatively with LC on BIBFRAME development and intends to meet regularly with LC to share our findings as we each run parallel experimentation in 2015.

On behalf of NLM's BIBFRAME Experimentation Team
-Nancy Fallgren

Nancy J. Fallgren
Metadata Specialist Librarian
Cataloging and Metadata Management Section
Technical Services Division
National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike, Bldg 38
Bethesda, MD 20894

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