Report on MARBI (Machine Readable Bibliographic Information) Meetings at ALA Midwinter 2012

MARBI met twice at ALA Midwinter.

The first meeting, on Jan. 26, was devoted to a discussion of Proposal 2012-01, New Data Elements in the MARC 21 Bibliographic and Authority Formats for Medium of Performance. Music catalogers currently assign LCSH headings which often combine genre/form and medium information into a single heading. Eventually, Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials (LCGFT) will replace these headings. But medium of performance is out of scope for LCGFT, and must be treated as a separate facet. Two options were offered: use the 382 (Medium of Performance) field, and distinguish between RDA and LCGFT formulations of this information, or create a new 6XX field for medium of performance. Option 1 was preferred, with an indicator to indicate whether the field was used for access or not. This leaves unresolved questions of how to link the genre terms with the medium of performance terms, when multiple mediums of performance are involved (e.g. piano and strings), and how to handle situations where a single record describes several different works, each with its own genre and medium(s) of performance. The recording of medium of performance in authority records will be covered in a future discussion paper.

The second session, on Jan. 27, devoted about an hour to a discussion of the future role of MARBI, and of its relation to the development of a new bibliographic environment. This new environment will cover far more ground than MARC, encompassing rights and preservation information as well as bibliographic and holdings data, and it will be based on the Resource Description Framework (RDF), emphasizing linked data rather than the creation of self-contained bibliographic and authority records. Decisions on a future role for the committee are complicated by the fact that MARBI is actually a subgroup within the MARC Advisory Group, which advises the Library of Congress on changes to the MARC 21 formats. MARBI is an inter-divisional committee of the American Library Association; the MARC Advisory Group includes representatives from national libraries in the United States and other countries, other library associations, library system vendors, bibliographic utilities, and others with an interest in the MARC format. MARBI members are the only members who can vote on proposals presented at the sessions; they report to ALA, while the MARC Advisory Group members are accountable to their own organizations. MARBIís charge covers, in theory if not in practice, any type of machine readable bibliographic information, while the Advisory Groupís charge is limited to MARC. It is unclear what the future of either group will be. It is also unclear what the role of the groups in the Bibliographic Framework Transition process should be. For now, members of MARBI and the MARC Advisory Group should contribute to the Bibliographic Framework list-serve as individuals. As development proceeds, more definite roles for members may take shape, such as the formation of working groups on specific issues. And members will have to continue to work on supporting MARC until the transition is complete. RDA generated a large number of requests for new fields and subfields (as witness Proposal 2012-01), and other needs will emerge during the period when the new bibliographic framework is developed. Eventually, things will settle down and MARC will become vestigial (though its successor will still require care and feeding).

The remainder of the session was devoted to discussion of Discussion Paper 2012-DP01, Identifying Titles Related to the Entity Represented by the Authority Record in the MARC 21 Authority Format. Currently the 670 field is used to record the source of information about an entity represented by an authority record. The information may be a bibliographic citation, or some other source (e.g. phone call to publisher). It is also used sometimes to indicate that the entity is not the author of a particular title (when a cataloger might reasonably suppose otherwise). The 670 field contains a mix of different data elements; it would be desirable to define a separate field for use solely for bibliographic citations, encoded in such a way that they could be used for machine matching or comparison when checking access points for the entities they are related to. Discussion covered whether only titles related to entities with an authorial relationship to the title should be included, or whether subject relationships should also be included (if the latter, then it should be possible to distinguish subject from non-subject relationships); whether authority records for all FRBR levels (work/expression/manifestation/item) should be included, or only records for works (the former was preferred); how to deal with titles that fell outside the usual 245 encoding pattern, such as Romanized and original script pairings and articles in periodicals.

Here is a link to the minutes of the LC Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative Update Forum held Jan. 22 at ALA Midwinter in Dallas

Submitted by Liz O'Keefe, ARLIS/NA Liaison to the MARC Advisory Group

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