ALA Midwinter 2006
A brief update to MARBI about
German and Austrian libraries moving to MARC 21
German National Library
Office for Data Formats
Update on bibliographic data formats in the MAB community of Germany and Austria
History: Status quo, discussion, and decision
Since the beginning of IT in libraries we have had bibliographic data formats, and since the early 70s Germany and Austria have used MAB as a standard for exchange of bibliographic data. MAB stands for "Maschinelles Austauschformat für Bibliotheken"= machine-readable exchange format for libraries. MAB is loosely based on ISO 2709. It has a close relationship to cataloging codes RAK ("Regeln für die Alphabetische Katalogisierung" = code for descriptive cataloging) and RSWK ("Regeln für den Schlagwortkatalog" = code for subject headings). MAB is maintained by Die Deutsche Bibliothek with a national "Expertengruppe Datenformate" ("Expert Group for Data Formats", formerly "MAB-Ausschuss").
[for more information of cataloging rule development at the Deutsche Bibliothek, see http://www.ddb.de/eng/standardisierung/regelwerke/afs_regelwerksentwicklung.htm]
During the last few years MAB itself has undergone a process of internationalization in relationship to various other standards, including Unicode, FRBR, MABxml. In 2001 we began a long and sometimes hot discussion about abandoning the national standards RAK and MAB and moving to AACR2 and MARC 21. During 2002 - 2004 we carried out a feasibility study and analysis of AACR and MARC 21; then made a decision in December 2004: MARC 21 instead of MAB. This work is financially supported by the German Research Foundation "DFG" and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Aims and reasons
The decision for MARC 21 was based on the following points:
Difficulties and risks
- to get easier access to international bibliographic data
- to make data of German speaking libraries "visible" worldwide
- to be able to mix bibliographic data of different origins more easily
- to get into the MARC community
- to profit of the developments based on MARC
- to bring in our experiences
- to have more choice of library systems during migrations
In making this shift we realized that:
Parts, steps and methods
- to avoid: loss of needed information and loss of functionality
- data structures used in MAB not always given in MARC 21 (e.g. record linking)
- moving to MARC can't be done free of charge
- MARC 21 is/was not known very well in Germany and Austria.
There are a number of parts, steps and methods for getting to the goal. They include the following.
- Learn about MARC 21, training
- Analyze the conditions under which MAB is used, "Use cases"
- Analyze MARC 21 support for:
- works with collective titles, multipart resources, "hierarchies":
analysis, defining aims, and describing best practice recommendations
- record linking by record control numbers
- Central element: complete and obligatory mapping from MAB to MARC 21,
will be done on a freelance basis
- Based on the mapping:
- which information fits into MARC 21?
- which information does not fit?
- which of this part is really needed?
- which of this part can be defined newly in MARC 21?
- which will have to be defined in the 9-elements ("D-MARC")?
- Translation of MARC 21 into German, based on the Swiss work
- Coded character sets: can be done almost independently. ISO 646 + ISO 5426 (as UNIMARC), and MAB disk (IBM Codepage 850) mappings to MARC-8
- Analyze applications and implementations
- in principle internal data formats remain stable but there are effects on cataloging by new data models and structures especially if internal format = exchange format
- existing data
- Marketing, informing the community, vendors
Our website: http://www.ddb.de/eng/standardisierung/formate/marc21.htm
Steps already done, and next steps
On the level of the standard itself we are planning to have the preparations done in the beginning of 2007. From then on the German and Austrian libraries and their institutions will have to do the steps of moving to MARC 21.
- Initial MARC training done, further training to come
- We have nearly finished the discussions about works with collective titles, and we have defined best practice recommendations for these resources:
- Every volume of a series gets his own record.
- This record has to be as complete as possible.
- The series itself gets one additional record.
- We will work on the mapping from MAB to MARC 21 during the next months, and we plan to have a final version before summer this year. Then we will know which details we would like to have defined in MARC, via MARBI.
- As a next step the translation will be done.
- We have finished the mappings for the coded character sets.
Conclusion: What do we name the project?
"Umstieg auf MARC 21", literally "Change for MARC 21" ?
not just a "Harmonization" or an "Alignement" ?
not only "Moving to MARC 21" ?
"Transition to MARC 21" ?
"Switching to MARC 21" ?
"Meta-Exchange"? i.e. "Exchange of the exchange format"
... proposals welcome ...
... go to other ALA Midwinter 2006 reports ...