The Library of Congress announced today that effective July 1, 2022, all LC systems will be flipped from MARC to BIBFRAME.  

In parallel with the LC announcement, OCLC made public its plan to flip WorldCat from a MARC-based database to a BIBFRAME-based triplestore. Connexion, OCLC’s cataloging client, will be decommissioned on July 1, 2022 and replaced with Sinopia to allow OCLC members to create and manage bibliographic metadata natively in BIBFRAME. 

BIBFRAME and linked data advocates hailed the announcement as the apogee of over a decade of development. Said senior library administrator April Fisch: “With this announcement we see the fruit of thousands of hours of work and millions of dollars of investment. Now, when users search one of our systems, they will be presented not with a boring list of available resources, but with nifty things like knowledge cards and links to other things with more links to other things about other things with more links to other links with information and links to even more things with more links. The traditional library discovery system, designed to connect users with resources, is obsolete. These new systems will connect users with everything, which is, as I’m sure we can agree, cooler.” 

Roy Tennant, whose cri de coeur twenty years ago that “MARC must die!” has finally been heard, was exultant. “Finally!” he is reported to have uttered with palpable relief. “I was beginning to think MARC might never die!” (On the other hand, Terry Reese, creator of MarcEdit and recipient of the 2019 Margaret Mann Citation presented by the ALCTS Cataloging and Metadata Management Section, was seen stumbling disconsolately around the campus of Ohio State University, mumbling to himself “What now?”) 

Lorcan Dempsey famously observed that “Discovery happens elsewhere.” Thanks to the complete abandonment of MARC for BIBFRAME, discovery will now happen everywhere, even when a user can’t tell that it’s happening. 

The vastly improved user experience long promised by BIBFRAME and linked data will now be a reality. Instead of answering boring questions like “where can I get this book?,” new systems will allow users to form queries like “show me all the materials by German women authors named Maria who lived in the 18th century and published in Leipzig. Or Berlin. And who had red hair. Or brown. And had a dachshund named Kip.” 

When asked how smaller libraries with fewer resources and little on-site technical expertise were expected to cope with the sea change, a spokesperson from LC’s Policy and Standards Division issued the following statement: 

“Um, not sure.”