It may be useful to consider BIBFRAME activity as taking place within a Trading Zone Ė where there is some confusion about the directionality of exchange. Letís unpack that sentence. First, you might review this Wikipedia page to set the overall context:

Following the Wikipedia webpage, letís say that there exists:

*  A global, library ďsubculture" whose resource description approach threads together a number of important historical/philosophical/mathematical ideas (woefully underexamined), embedded in institutional administrative practices alert to historical constraints imposed by mass production undertaken in technologically limited circumstances.

* A global, technologically sophisticated subculture that has incrementally enlarged its interest in resource description and access beyond mere management of data. However, this subculture is now bravely attempting to engage resource description scenarios whose complexity and quantity are commonplace in library subcultures (e.g., realized and distributed variants of creative efforts like the Bible, Koran, Moby-Dick, Leonard Cohenís Hallelujah, etc.)

Galison Can Help Ė From the message traffic and BIBFRAME documentation, BIBFRAME designers are trying to accomplished two things within a somewhat ďforced innovationĒ organizational innovation framework (

* They think/believe Ė pragmatically - that they can construct a pidgin that represents key library world conceptual structures sufficiently to allow the transformation of library data descriptive of those structures to serve a broader user base. Ultimately, a MARC-RDF thing.

* They think/believe that they can construct a creole that encompasses or replaces those library world conceptual structures with ones mostly originating within the W3C IT subculture. (This is the directionality issue.) So libraries are not merely data suppliers with an exportable product, who are allowed to languish in their quaint folkways, but are  in fact a market for new, W3C-friendly resource description thinking and its technological representation. (From my POV, this is pretty ambitious, given the lack of comparable experience with resource description complexity*quantity interactions.) Galison informs us that creoles are created organically by people who grow up in a pidgin-speaking environment.

The library world creole is not intended to be a very ďbalancedĒ one (in the sense of library world thinking changing W3C thinking - at least in the minds of W3C-allegiant parties posting to this listserv), it seems. This expressed intent has generated support/skepticism/disapproval in listserv message traffic. But what to make of it all?

So if you, as a new cataloger, want to get a sense of what may happen to the library world innovation called BIBFRAME, I recommend that you first check out some of the innovation literature cited in Wikipedia (Rogers especially if you want a cookbook on how to get innovations adopted), and then revisit this thread with your better informed POV.

Ron Murray


Ronald J, Murray
Digital Conversion Specialist
Preservation Reformatting Division
Library of Congress
Washington DC 20540

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phone: (202) 707-9610

From: Erin Merold <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: Bibliographic Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Monday, April 6, 2015 at 10:12 AM
To: Bibliographic Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: [BIBFRAME] BIBFRAME implementation

Hi everyone, I think Iím a little confused.


Iím 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 Ė 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 Iíve seen on here, it seems that perhaps this is just a possible option for libraries in the future Ė 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 donít 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 MARCÖMaybe itís because Iím 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 worldís main concerns is staying relevant for current and future users, and we canít do that if weíre mired down in outdated technology. I realize that funding is a huge and appropriate concern, but itís 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. Itís as though MARC itself doesnít want to acknowledge that technology beyond analog tape exists. Itís like itís literally stuck in the 80ís!


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.  Itís really sad to see the other half of the library world get left behind.


So, I guess Iím asking if BIBFRAME is a real thing Ė is it really going to be implemented, and replace MARC? Or is that just a possibility that we are discussing? If itís just a possibility, are there other possibilities also being discussed?



Erin Merold


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