There is no doubt that Bibframe is a real entity and that for many
libraries it will replace MARC.  Even more so, if and when it is
implemented by OCLC and other the other national utilities on which most
libraries depend.  However, you need to realize that there are still
libraries filing catalog cards, keeping Windows XP running so they can
continue to use outdated bibliographic software, and using FilemakerPro,
MSAccess, and other apps to run their catalogs.  These libraries will never
make the leap, since in many cases, even MARC was never fully implemented.
The ILSs that we have entrusted to maintain our data in what we think is
the current MARC standard, really only guarantee MARC ingest and output.
What happens to the data once it enters their system has more to do with
Oracle, Postgres, MySQL, and other databases on which their system is built
than it does on MARC.  The cataloger sees something that resembles MARC (it
has fixed and variable fields, the latter with numeric tags and indicators,
on the screen), but may or may not be MARC in the background.  Certainly,
no cataloger has ever had to directly code the MARC legend! Even what you
see in OCLC is not really MARC, since they early on adopted mnemonic tags
to address the fixed fields rather than force users to count relative byte
positions to get to the value they wanted to enter.

I guess a good question would be, will the cataloger interface change with
Bibframe or will the systems into which we enter data continue to ask us to
submit the usual elements (author, title, publisher, subjects, etc.) and
then place them in their Bibframe context behind the scenes, as they do now
with MARC?  I'm betting that catalogers will never have to directly
interact with the mark-up required by Bibframe, just as they've never
really had to directly interact with MARC.  Cataloger time is simply too
valuable to expend on the markup overhead associated with any bibliographic


On Mon, Apr 6, 2015 at 10:12 AM, Erin Merold <[log in to unmask]
> wrote:

>  Hi everyone, I think I’m a little confused.
> I’m a fairly new cataloger (about 2 years under my belt) and am fresh out
> of grad school (graduated spring 2014). I am currently employed at my first
> full-time cataloging position, and I really enjoy cataloging. I subscribed
> to this list in an attempt to keep updated with cataloging goings-on now
> that I am out of grad school.
> When I subscribed to this list, I thought it was understood that BIBFRAME
> was most definitely going to be implemented – it was just a matter of time
> and working out the bugs: hence the list.  Everything on the LOC website
> seems to suggest that BIBFRAME is indeed definitely going to replace MARC
> at some point in the future. However, from many of the comments I’ve seen
> on here, it seems that perhaps this is just a possible option for libraries
> in the future – is that the case? Or is BIBFRAME actually going to happen
> at some point in the future?
> If it IS a sure thing that BIBFRAME will be implemented, then why are we
> spending so much time arguing about it? For example, Robert Sanderson said:
> So ... please lets focus on constructive suggestions for how to improve
> the current Model T version of the ontology we have now, towards that much
> sleeker and better performing Ferrari :)
> I would think it would be better to focus on constructive suggestions for
> improving BIBFRAME, which would be replacing MARC. Unless, of course, I am
> mistaken, and that is not actually the case. (Forgive me, I don’t mean to
> call anyone in particular out; I just remember this particular quote).
> However, I will say that I really, really hope that something comes along
> and replaces MARC…Maybe it’s because I’m younger than most of my fellow
> catalogers, but it seems to me that MARC, while innovative when it was
> first used, is now incredibly outdated. One of the library world’s main
> concerns is staying relevant for current and future users, and we can’t do
> that if we’re mired down in outdated technology. I realize that funding is
> a huge and appropriate concern, but it’s going to be even more so if the
> world views the library as unable to catch up with the modern world in
> which it exists. Would you vote to continue funding something you viewed as
> outdated and unnecessary? For my part, I find myself wrestling with the
> fixed fields when cataloging eBooks, audiobooks on CD or digitally
> recorded, DVDs, or Blu-Rays. It’s as though MARC itself doesn’t want to
> acknowledge that technology beyond analog tape exists. It’s like it’s
> literally stuck in the 80’s!
> I was thrilled when I stumbled upon the Webcast from November 2013
> discussing BIBFRAME (
>, because I
> thought that finally the library world was taking one giant, painful step
> forward towards modernization. The public service side of librarianship has
> been running circles around the cataloging side when it comes to
> modernization and changing the way we serve our patrons to better meet
> their needs.  It’s really sad to see the other half of the library world
> get left behind.
> So, I guess I’m asking if BIBFRAME is a real thing – is it really going to
> be implemented, and replace MARC? Or is that just a possibility that we are
> discussing? If it’s just a possibility, are there other possibilities also
> being discussed?
> Erin Merold
> Cataloger
> [log in to unmask]

Charley Pennell
Principal Cataloger
NCSU Libraries
North Carolina State University